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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 past have replaced with high spirits during the Lunar New Year. Our lives are like a river which is continuously moving. Acceptance of changes will help you feel better about life. The sun still rises on this side of the globe, and the birds still chirp in the morning. Life is beautiful as long as you have opened your heart to change. The Year of the Dog is approaching in two weeks. May this Lunar New Year bring you good health, love, and happiness!

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