A foreigner's Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine. Though I love Christmas and all the gifts and traditions, there's something nice about a day set aside for just family~ no gifts expected, just a chance to be together and let everyone know how much they mean to you. All the food we eat is traditional and the smells are sentimental. I was getting pretty homesick thinking about being away from home on Thanksgiving and not being able to cook all my favorite traditional dishes. Thanks to some of my awesome friends, I had received a big "Autumn" box in October with Fall decorations and pumpkin, apple cider, and apple pie scented candles. That made our home feel a little more seasonal. I started feeling better when I made plans to make a few of my favorite dishes for the church's Thanksgiving dinner and our great friends, Chad and Jo Newton decided to come up to spend the weekend with us. Knowing that we were going to spend the holiday with other Americans and that we were going to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal, made my homesickness go away. I started getting really excited about the upcoming holiday after all. After receiving a handmade card from my friend, Brittany Engebretsen, I got inspired to make cards. These were the results: 

In other news, we finished our first set of courses!!! As you know, we have basically been living in coffee shops so I decided to take a picture of the final cappuccino for the first set :) We are enjoying the short respite until we start again on December 1st. We are taking less classes this time because of Christmas and traveling, so it won't be as stressful.  

The fun weekend finally arrived and Chad and Jo made it to Seoul late Friday night. The time was so short, we had to take advantage of all the time we could! We stayed up until about 2 am just visiting and enjoying yummy brownies and ice cream (I had my MIL send me some brownie mixes and I only make them as special treats for guests~ this was one of those times). 

On Saturday morning, we all dragged ourselves out of bed at 9:00am (an incredible feat for Robert and I who are major night owls, especially on weekends and love to sleep in to a ridiculously late hour) and Jo and I made a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes. It was delish to say the least. I had already made the Apple pie on Thursday night so after breakfast I just made the finishing touches on the Pumpkin Souffle. 

*the pie was literally as big as my oven :) 

After the souffle was finished baking, Jo and I decided to hit a few shops for Christmas shopping and just enjoy some girl time sipping our Caffe Lattes on an overcast day :) 

The boys did a lot of male bonding~ whether on their Iphones and Ipads or playing pool. 
They had fun and we spent the money :) That's generally the way we roll...

I had done as much as I could for the stuffing, except just mixing it all together and cooking it, so I did that before we left for dinner. It started on Monday when I bought the bread and set it out to dry out, and cutting it into little squares. It was easy from there...

I loved using family recipes. It made me feel more at home :) 

It was off to Thanksgiving Dinner at the church. We met in the dining hall downstairs of the church. There were way more people than we had expected! Let's just say, I could have doubled all my recipes! I didn't take a scrap of food home~ all of my items were eaten up quickly :) I just started snapping pictures throughout the dinner... 

It truly was an amazing multi-cultural feast! I loved the Korean elements thrown in with the traditional American menu. Everyone pitched in and there was so much food! It was all so delicious! 

My favorite aspect of this dinner was eating with chopsticks. I eat with chopsticks every day but Thanksgiving dinner was really special because it was an example of how you can acclimate to any situation or culture and still be American, celebrating a very American holiday :) 

We had quite a few other foreigners join us for the dinner and it was wonderful meeting new people and getting to share the special holiday with them. 

On our way out of church, we grabbed a quick picture by the beautiful Christmas trees outside. 

Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to our guests :( The weekend was far too short but they had a long trip ahead of them... We were so glad they came up to Seoul and spent the holiday with us! 

On Sunday night, I decided to put up the few little Christmas decorations we bought so we could enjoy them for the few weeks we are here in December. Since we are leaving in less than 3 weeks, we didn't go big this year... as you can see :) 

When we moved here we were told that Christmas was not really celebrated here and that no one decorated their homes much. However, as there is more and more Western influence, the holiday is gaining importance and every store sells trees, ornaments, etc and all the restaurants, coffee shops and stores are decorated for Christmas. I love to see all the holiday cheer :) 

To sum up this post on Thanksgiving, I wanted to tell you a few things that I am Thankful for:

1. A loving and faithful husband who shows me every single day what it means to love selflessly. A man who provides for me, comforts and cherishes me, and who I laugh with on a daily basis. 

2. An amazing support system of family and friends who have been there time and again through text messages, Skype calls, Facebook messages, and hand written letters. They have been my strength and comfort on the lonely days. 

3. Coffee... go ahead and judge. I love coffee so much and can't imagine a world without the wonderful goodness. 

4. Social networks that offer easy and accessible ways of staying in contact with friends and family. It has made the separation far more bearable. 

5. The Korean heating system... hot water pipes below the floor make it amazing on cold nights and in the morning, you never have that "cold floor" feeling. 

6. A loving and forgiving God who made the ultimate sacrifice for me and offers me a free gift of His Grace. I cannot do anything to earn this gift, I only have to accept it and live my life to please Him and bring glory to His Name. 

7. My students are my constant source of joy. From the adorable little language blunders they make to their honest and loving spirits. They love with complete abandonment and only want your love and attention in return. 

8. The Holy Spirit who guides and draws near at all times. There is never cause of despair because I am never really alone. His spirit is always there, engulfing me and directing my steps. 

9. Coffee Shops... Thanks to Cafe Bene, Coffine Gurunaru, Gloria Jean's, Paris Baguette, Coffee Mama's, Witch's Coffee, we are on our way to completing our Masters degrees. 

10. I am thankful for Hope. Not the cliche term that everyone drops in speeches, conversations, and Hallmark cards, but the true hope that comes from living surrendered to Christ. The idea that you can do anything you set your mind to and that the world truly can be a better place. Hope for the future, hope in others, and hope in Jesus Christ. 

11. Public transportation takes me anywhere I want to go efficiently and at a low cost. I can grab a bus, taxi, or subway all over Seoul. It's amazing and convenient. I love it! 

12. A pharmacy with a doctor that speaks English. Its so much more comforting to know that if something goes wrong or I have health questions when I'm so far away from home, I can at least explain my symptoms and know that he understands me! 

13. Clean clothes, stairs, Korean food, rain boots, candles, chocolate, oatmeal, peppermint tea, shopping, crafts, sewing machine, books, entertainment, zebra slippers, umbrellas, Do-gae-be market,  et all...

And that folks, is what it's like to celebrate Thanksgiving as a foreigner. I hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends. Hope you have a wonderful few weeks leading up to Christmas! A lot will be happening between now and then, so stay tuned! 

1 comment:

Shelly said...

Great post! I never thought about Christmas being celebrated there! Very cool.