How crowded it was at the shops. As a novice, I felt surprised by the scene. It was an entire month before Christmas and people were talking about the celebration all the time.

People were shopping for new clothes and were buying presents to give to others. I asked myself how they could spend money that way, giving and receiving so many gifts. Besides, did these presents really fulfull one's wishes and were they pleased with the things they received?

I could not tell, but someone told me that was the custom, and nobody thinks of repealing it. I went to shop many times but did not buy anything for Christmas. Every shop was decorated for the holiday and so were the people.

As my friends prepared for the holiday, I recalled the best Christmas I had ever had. It was in my country (of Vietnam).

People were not too busy for Christmas day; they all planned a party with their family or with friends after midnight. Three friends of mine and I had our plan. We would go to the church for the celebration and then come back to my house for the party.

We prepared cakes and beverages for the party, and we had music, but not for dancing. We were all together and sat around and each in turn had to tell a funny story. We were together until dawn, and laughing all the time. All of us were tired the next morning, but it was so nice to be with friends, and I had a very good time.

During my first Christmas in America, I stayed home with my uncle's family and with his relatives. As they were sitting and talking together, I kept in my room and thought about my family. I had no one to share what I had in my mind.

The noisy sound went through my room, and it made me feel more lonely.

I tried to get it out of my mind, and I tried to mentally unite myself and my family, hoping to share with them the bitterness of life which they were having.

At night, I prayed for the reunion of my family, and I prayed for them, sent them my best wishes and prayed I may never neglect to support them.

This was my first Christmas in America.