Holidays for expats can be really lonely. Facebook only makes things worse as you see the ones you love posting photos and stories of family get-togethers back home. Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t celebrated in Korea and those days just pass by without much notice. However, we do get one day off for Christmas, which I am insanely grateful for. Thanksgiving and Christmas, as we celebrate it, centers around food and family. Since our families live on the other side of the globe, we have come to lean on our close friends to fill that void where a family should be and we’ve been lucky to have such a good community of people here. The people we spend time with are great for many reasons, but their value around the holidays is incalculable. And the food, well you have to take care of that yourself if you want a taste of home. Below, you can see Ryan’s school’s lunch on Thanksgiving Day, when the lunch ladies obviously didn’t get the memo on turkey and dressing.
Last year was incredibly difficult. Thanksgiving was spent just the two of us and some delivery McDonald’s. Unbeknownst to us, our order never went through, and we waited for around 2 hours, starving. We did eventually get the order placed and it arrived within 15 minutes. It was absurd how happy we were over a couple of hamburger combos and apple pies.
Last Christmas, we got our stuff together. We ordered smoked duck and made a cheese and sausage tray, which is traditional in my family’s Christmas. Even though the cheese was of the string variety and the sausage wasn’t precooked, it was still nice to have some semblance of home.
However, this year couldn’t have been more different. The expat community in Yeosu is quite large and welcoming. We got together with fourteen of our friends on Thanksgiving. Each of us brought a traditional dish and we all pitched in for two $75 turkeys. Turkeys are imported into Korea and so they are not only expensive, but during the holidays they are especially hard to get a hold of. Pumpkin pie, board games, and even football made this holiday feel like we were right at home.
Today for Christmas, we decided to keep it low key. We have plenty of Skype dates scheduled with our families and most of our friends are doing the same. In the middle of our afternoon, we did squeezed in some pancakes for lunch and a Christmas hike with some of our friends, John and Mara. The hike ended up on the beach which was a bit odd given the season. We stopped in for some burgers at Burger King and realized that we had once again fallen into the trap that is American holiday fast food.