Have you ever felt so homesick that you wished you could reverse the time and never leave your home? I did. The first decade living in America was very hard for me because I missed my family in Vietnam tremendously.

Sadly, I had no means to visit them for over twelve years. Each Lunar New Year approached, I always cried inside and shouted, “Go away!” But they never obliged. They came and left silently. It took me a long time to adapt to the new culture by learning English and getting myself involved in social activities. It was nerve-wracking at first for an introverted person like myself, but I bit my lips, closed my eyes and found the courage to get out of the melancholy stage which was eating me alive.

In the last couple decades, I have been way too busy during this time of the year. I participated in Vietnamese traditional fashion shows, beauty pageant contests, traditional dancing and reciting poetry. I’ve shared with many people about our new year tradition: the lucky red envelopes with brand-new dollar bills stuffed inside. The yellow apricot flowers which signify the Lunar New Year as opposed to pine trees for Christmas celebrations. Sticky banana leaf cakes as a traditional food to Vietnamese like tamales are to the Mexican food on the new year. Not only that, I got creative and also built upon my tradition. For children, I ask them to get in line and receive lucky envelopes from me with an exchange for a hug and well wishes. For anyone older, I ask them to pluck the lucky envelopes hanging on the apricot flower branches.

My sad days of reminiscing the