I have spent years of long winters, but none were as wonderful as those I enjoyed in Hoa Hao Village during my childhood.
I would wake up in the early morning in Hung Nhon, when the sky was still dark. I could not keep myself still under the warm blanket, because I knew something exciting was waiting for me. So I slipped down from the bed and ran to the kitchen, where I snuggled my tiny body into the great family circle with all the uncles and aunties and brothers and sisters, sitting and enjoying the moment around a brightening wood fire, with the floating sweet aroma of corn and yams broiled under hot charcoal.
Everyone's face was rosy and glowing, reflecting the dancing fire; their arms and their clothing were so cozy and soft. The fire in the big stove burned in height and splendor. From time to time, when the flame weakened, someone stood up to take a small shovel and pour rice husks into the stove. The fire burst into big flames again. The husks burned joyfully and small dazzling sparks flashed out. It made me feel so excited, just like watching New Year fireworks with my mother.