The holiday season is a special time of year in our house, and we have done our best to continue traditions while living abroad. While in Korea, we have been surprised by how many stores and neighborhoods have celebratory decorations and events to cater to those enjoying Christmas, however it is a different holiday than that which we are accustomed. For many Koreans, specifically in our age group, Christmas is most closely related to a Valentine’s-esque day where you go out on a date and treat your special someone to a nice meal and some quality time.
Although we felt out of place and awkward, we shopped around with our faces beaming a foreign affinity for this time of year while we shopped around and found what gifts we could. Both of us were surprised by the creativity we were forced to conform to while shopping for gifts, as traditional presents during “Koristmas” are markedly different. We can’t buy the much needed clothes that the other desires, and many things are difficult to find if you do have a gift idea. With a 50,000 won limit for each other, we found most of the things we hoped to find, and stumbled upon to interesting gifts that made for hilarious reactions whilst opening.
We then spent some time on Skype with family and opened some greatly appreciated airmail gifts over the internet whilst laughing and sharing a brief Christmas chat via webcam. It meant so much to be able to see our family and having wrapped presents from back home really made this huge world seem a lot smaller. To everyone who met us on Skype, gave us gifts, thermal underwear, and the industrial sized bag of Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese powder: we love you so much.
Our next challenge was Christmas food. Both of our families have continued cooking traditions that are as important as the tree or stockings. Since we do not have an oven or microwave, we were relegated to improvised foods that resembled our typical Christmas meals. Since Stephanie’s family has a constant “finger foods” dish with cheeses, sausages, crackers, pickles, and olives, we scoured the markets and foreign food stores in search of similar items. We couldn’t find blocks of cheese, so we resigned ourselves to cut string cheese. Also, we found sausage, pickles, crackers, and olives. Altogether we had amassed an assortment of foods that shared a semblance with the genuine articles we craved. To top off the already daunting meal, we ordered a smoked duck from a delivery menu. Say what you want about having fowl delivered by a scooter, but it was delicious and served as the bird for our meal. Everything was quite good, and we enjoyed stuffing ourselves while watching Christmas movies together.
While it was not the most traditional holiday celebration, it will surely be one of our most memorable in years to come. Sometimes it is not the traditions you maintain, but instead it can be about starting new traditions that will inspire fond memories for years to come. This was our 6th Christmas together, and this was a truly special day where we were reminded of what the holidays are all about. It’s about love, joy, giving, and duck. Also there was that strange side of salad/noodles that came with our duck; it’s kinda about that too.
From the Hedgers, Happy Holidays everyone. We wish you all a wonderful New Year and hope that you’ve all had the chance to connect with those people that are most important in your lives.