There is a Vietnamese tradition where we are supposed to put our shoes out on Christmas Eve so that they could be filled with presents from Ông Già Nô-en, which literally translates into Old Man Christmas. We never followed this tradition when I was growing up. In fact, I only learned about Santa Claus through school and my friends. I don’t think my parents even knew who this Santa guy was, except that he was that dude at the mall that takes pictures with everyone. Honesty, I think the thought of a strange old hefty man getting into the house while we were sleeping would cause my mom to stand watch at night with her trusty broom and “Mama Tran” sandals ready and waiting to beat on anyone who dares to enter.
As a kid, I was a skeptical believer of Santa. For some reason, he always remembered me at school, but never at home. At one point, I thought that since our house didn’t have a fireplace, maybe the jolly old dude had no way in. So, in 3rd grade, I did write him a letter to ask him for a snowy Christmas. Since he couldn’t make his way in, maybe he could give me a present that he didn’t need
to put under the tree. I got a response from one of his elves saying that Santa would do his best to make it snow, but “it all depended on whether they were able to get the snow-machine working in time.” Luckily for them, it did. But, we lived in a valley in Southeastern Washington State with a high chance of snow. I also remember getting a candy cane that the elf said “Mrs. Claus baked herself” and was made especially for me. I had inquired about the reindeer’s, so the elf also assured me that they were keeping all of the reindeer’s warm as well.
Besides my Santa experiences through school, there were no other reinforcements that promoted his existence at home. The whole thing was inconsistent to the stories that I read, so my belief in Santa was always wavering. However, there was always hope and whenever there was a sign to support the belief (like the letter from the elf and little trinkets left by my teachers on behalf of Santa), I was always so grateful. Being the first generation born in America, when my husband and I do have children, we will most likely start the Santa tradition in our home. The kids will eventually find out, but those moments of belief and hope are priceless.
Linda Tran, EatinAsian Blogger and foodie