Happy Tet Trung Thu!

“I see the moon and the moon sees me,
Down through the leaves of the old oak tree.
Please let the light that shines on me,
Shine on the one I love.

Over the mountains, over the sea,
I have a love who is waiting for me.
Please let the light that shines on me,
Shine on the one I love.”

Okay, okay! I know that the Mid-autumn Moon Festival was Tuesday, but it was raining all night here, so we made our first attempt at Tet Trung Thu festivities Wednesday instead=) I know we didn’t do it justice–no music, dancing, or paper lanterns, and my attempt to make mooncakes was an utter and complete disaster–but nontheless, it was a very special time for my husband and me, and it was an opportunity to reflect on just what it will mean to raise a child of a different birth culture than our own. The food, costumes, music, and dancing are wonderful, and we hope to expose Miles to these parts of his culture as often as possible, but they are very much on the surface of what true culture means. As part of my training with the Ozark Literacy Council, we discussed cultural differences. Our teacher likened culture to an iceberg: you can see a little bit of it– the way we appear to others on the surface– but the biggest and most important parts lie beneath the surface. Those deeper values and beliefs (roles in relation to age, sex, class, occupation, and kinship, conversational patterns, conception of self, definition of right and wrong, nature of friendships, childrearing approaches, value of time, competition vs cooperation, concept of justice, concept of past and future, and many MANY more…) play a huge role in how we live our lives day to day, and yet, often they happen outside of conscious awareness. I worry about how I will adequately bring up my Vietnamese child in America. I also don’t want to underestimate the role that our family culture will play in shaping his life as he grows older. I undersand that there will probably be times when Miles feels caught in the middle of two very different worlds. I hope I can teach him to embrace the fact that his history and his culture as a Vietnamese/Irish/Danish/American is a very unique and special part of who he is. There may be times when he identifies more strongly with one than another, and that is okay. But each part will play a valuable role in the man he grows to be.

And after all of these thoughts on cultural differences and distinctions, and also couldn’t help but think that in the ways that really matter most, we as humans are all the same. Our battles may be different, but we are all doing our best to fight and navigate through this crazy thing called life.

My Grandma Jo used to tell me, when were miles apart, that all I had to do was look up at the moon and send her a wish on the wind, and remeber that she was doing the same. Last night as I sat on the back porch with Stephen and gazed up at the full moon, I was overcome with emotion at the thought that somewhere, across the mountains and the sea, Miles and his first family look up at this same moon.

“Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love”

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4 thoughts on “Happy Tet Trung Thu!

  1. That’s beautiful. And you are so right, the bits of “culture” we try to give our kids really don’t do justice to what it means to be Vietnamese American. But we do what we can and I just hope that in the end what matters is that my kids are loved and cherished for who they are.

  2. What a thoughtful post. I hear you on the moon cakes. You should have seen the mess the first time I tried to make pho. I think you are right that we can’t do it justice, but what is important is that we do it. We want our son to connect with our culture because it is a part of him and a part of us through him!

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