Living in Vietnam not only provides the opportunity to learn about Vietnamese culture, but also to share a bit about American culture. The Vietnamese are eager to learn about all things foreign, particularly what life is like in other countries.
Just before Christmas I was missing the annual American tradition of watching the 1946 holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" starring film legends Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Not only is it a great film, but it holds particular sentiment for me. I remember the first time I saw it in December 1988 like it was yesterday. I was a first year college student at UVA. A student film club has a tradition of showing the film every year just before exams begin. I saw it with some of my buddies from my dormitory. The club president introduced the film with an outstanding Jimmy Stewart impression.
Watching this film touched me deeply. As I waxed poetic about the meaning and spirit of the film walking back to the dorm, my buddies began humming "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." They were having a bit of fun with me, but the tune happened to be perfect accompaniment. At exactly the same time, it began to snow (snowing is used as a metaphor in the film). The warm feelings, the holiday season, the camaraderie made it one of those perfect moments you remember forever.
It simply wouldn't do to watch this classic by myself, so I decided to share a Christmas tradition and showed it at the office with a computer projector. While turnout was light at only about 6 people, I noticed more than a few watery eyes by the end of the film. Several people asked me for copies of the film, wanting to share it with their families and friends. Given that the Vietnamese are crazy about all things Christmas, perhaps the "It's a Wonderful Life" tradition will take root here as well.