Sacred, warm country love

It has been a custom for nearly a decade now, no matter how busy I am, I still arrange a time to bring the whole family home to celebrate Tet. The country has changed, many memories associated with childhood in the countryside can not be found now: no longer the sound of pounding pestle resounds throughout the neighborhood; no longer the sound of firecrackers with the smell of burnt, fragrant firecracker paper; no more scenes of children holding straw torches, barefoot running through the dry furrows to dig graves. No longer see the image of the old mother huddled in the kitchen, her face covered with ashes; no longer see the image of the old father diligently cleaning the altar, carefully arranging the five-fruit tray, jam box, tea box, embellishing the letter book, hanging red couplets…

Our brothers and sisters, everyone is attached to the Tet holiday, everyone has many childhood memories associated with the memories of each New Year to Spring. Therefore, every time Tet comes, all six of my brothers try to bring the whole family home to celebrate Tet. The elderly gave birth to many children, all of them escaped, some from abroad, some in the city, but since the day their parents were still alive, all the families had always gathered on Tet. Now, parents are no more, but everyone agrees to celebrate Tet together in the countryside. Going back to Tho Ha ancient village, so that the children could meet each other, back to let the children know about the custom of wrapping banh chung, sitting around the fire waiting for the cake, waiting for the rolls to be cooked all night. Going back to see the chief doctor take care of the ancestral altar on his behalf, carefully arrange the five-fruit tray, come back so that the children can know each other’s faces, be closer to each other, and listen to old memories of grandparents and parents…

Recalling the day when I was a child, the country still had many difficulties, my family was always in a state of poverty, so I was looking forward to Tet to enjoy delicious food and wear new clothes. I still remember, my family and a few neighbors together bought a pig to make meat to share, my hometown still called it “eat bump” (don’t know if people still use this word now, it’s been a long time since I don’t know anymore). That day was really fun, the atmosphere of Tet was so vibrant. Several families gathered together to organize a warm year-end meal. Pork is divided according to the contribution of each house. That amount of meat is used by the house to wrap sausages and make cakes. If you have a fussy house, you can make more types of spring rolls. There are two types of spring rolls that are commonly made, which are spring rolls and stir-fried spring rolls. The most sophisticated is still sausage. Young people in the family are assigned to break. Lean ham must be made early, when the meat is still hot and pounded quickly to be smooth and delicious. Crushed the ham, the whole arm is broken. We children sat around waiting for the adults to finish pounding to get rid of the mortar, to “borrow” a pestle that was still sticky with meat, then dip it into the pot of boiling water, share the dishes. That delicious smell of ham has always followed me to this day.

Today’s life is different, the life of compatriots in Tho Ha ancient village is very different from my childhood. Many types of services have developed, especially services for Tet that bloom like mushrooms in the rain, pack cakes, make sausages, and even arrange a tray of rice to help those who are busy. But my brothers and sisters still want to keep the old customs. On the day near Tet, each person does a job with pork, making sausages, wrapping banh chung, banh gio, making peanut candies, lam candies, ginger jam, pumpkin jam… Although it was a bit hard for everyone, it was really fun. Adults are relived with old memories, while children can discover and experience Tet with a deep love, meaning, and better understanding of the homeland’s culture. My favorite scene is the scene of being gathered around the pot of banh chung to boil by the red fire. The children stayed up all night with their brothers and sisters chatting, listening to adults tell old stories. Perhaps they not only feel the warmth of the embers, but also feel the warmth of friendship and homeland going deep into their souls.

New Year’s Eve is the most sacred time of the year. When my parents were still alive, when the sacred moment came, the old people dressed very well, burned incense to worship their ancestors. All children and grandchildren stand behind respectfully towards the ancestral altar to remember the deceased and pray for a peaceful new year to the whole family. After that, my father opened the best bottle of wine, wrapped the best cake, and wrapped the best jam for the whole family to raise a glass to celebrate the New Year. And my father is also the representative to celebrate the birthday of each family member; then the children, grandchildren and brothers celebrate the age of grandparents, parents and celebrate each other’s age happily. Now, parents have gone away, but the extended family still maintains that custom. Every year on New Year’s Eve, watching the eldest brothers and sisters burn incense to worship their ancestors, open wine, peel candy, celebrate the age of children and their children, my heart is filled with tears, I miss my parents very much.

I don’t know where, but in Tho Ha ancient village, after New Year’s Eve, all descendants of the family must gather at the spacious, majestic and warm ancestral church. The patriarch of the family lights incense, and the descendants reverently remember their ancestors and raise a cup together to congratulate a peaceful and happy new year. There is an opinion that Tet is no longer poetic, every New Year is afraid of gifts, donations to take advantage of running for power, and then worry about money to travel to take “selfie” photos and give Facebook likes. … But for me every spring, the nostalgia for Tet at home is always burning and burning in my heart. “Trees have roots, water has sources”, only on New Year’s Day, expatriates like us have the opportunity to reunite with their families, to light incense sticks to pay homage to their ancestors, perhaps a sacred thing. especially for expatriate children.

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