With more and more Western culture coming to Korea, holidays are becoming more widely celebrated. When we moved here we were told that Christmas was not celebrated and we would barely see any decorations around. I was pleasantly surprised to see trees in subways and restaurants and beautiful Christmasy-ness everywhere. I know, I know... it's not the real reason for Christmas, but it sure does feel a little more like home. Recently, we have been staying quite busy, but a fun kind of busy! For once we are not spending every waking moment in coffee shop with blood shot eyes from staring at a computer screen for five hours. With just one course, the school work is very manageable and we have been able to have a little bit of a social life. I am loving it!!!
For starters, my co-Western teacher Kristin Duncan invited a few of the Kindy teachers over for homemade fajitas. It was a really fun night and the food was delish...
Robert and I went on a date to Myeong-dong for an Italian dinner and some shopping. As usual, we had an absolute blast! Being in a foreign country is remarkable, but being there with your best friend tops anything I can dream. I can't imagine experiencing the world with anyone else.
Robert giving his best Korean pose*
Next, the Kindy teachers successfully pulled off a surprise birthday party for our boss, Hannah. It was so much fun and she was in tears. She said it was the first time she has ever been surprised and was so touched by the party.
It's a great group... I missed the "let's do a goofy picture" part. fail.
Hannah sporting her cardigan, necklace, gift card set :)
After the surprise part, we were all hungry so we decided to head to samgyupsal (pork). We went to Robert and my favorite spot and the owner loves us. He spent the night praising me and bringing me special things. We laughed about it and gave him a hard time since it was Hannah's birthday. He then brought her a very special piece of birthday pork :)
Next on the agenda... a very special Christmas weekend. My friend Hannah doesn't get to go home for Christmas, as do many other teachers (its a big treat that we get to) so we decided that we needed to have a Christmas-packed weekend. All the fun little things that make the holiday special.
First stop: caffe lattes from Paris Baguette.
Second stop: a delicious Southern breakfast of biscuits and gravy and hash browns cooked by my adoring and wonderful husband :)
Third stop: HomePlus for all our baking needs. This is not to make anyone feel guilty for enjoying a convenient life (believe me, there are days when I miss it!), but we realized something... you appreciate something more for it's rarity and its accessibility. We walked 15 minutes to the store (yes, we could have taken a taxi, but decided the crisp air only added to our Christmasy weekend), searched high and low for powered sugar (turns out they call it sugar powder which kind of makes more sense if you think about it), and lugged all our goodies the 15 minutes back. Now, do you think we had a blast making those cookies? You bet after going through such a process. I'm not saying you can't enjoy something unless its hard to do, but I am saying that I appreciated it all a little more...
What's Christmas without hot cocoa and marshmallows next to the tree?
Turns out, Korea only likes fun colored marshmallows.. no objection here.
We enjoyed sipping our cocoa and watching the "Christmas Card"
(a family favorite~ missed you Jeremy).
Next came the long awaited Christmas cookies!
Along with decorating the cookies, we watched "Christmas with the Kranks"
(a little more on the lighter side :)
Along with our search for "sugar powder", we tried finding food coloring. Guess what? they were one in the same! The sugar powder was colored sugar powder! Fancy that?! However, these colors consisted of pink, green, and yellow... not exactly the most Christmasy colors. That didn't stop these Florida girls! We just opted for a more "Lily Pulitzer-esque" style of Christmas cookie. Hey, they still tasted like Christmas cookies and they were just too cute!
Cookies and Milk~ I can see why this is a favorite with ole' Mr. Claus!
Thanks Hannah, for this amazing and fun "Christmas-packed" weekend.
Some may say little traditions like these aren't that important, but I say that when you are oceans apart from family and friends, it's the little things like hot cocoa and Christmas cookies that make all the difference sometimes. It's making new memories with old traditions and adapting those traditions to new situations. If I have learned anything from my childhood in Africa or my time here in Korea, it is to never take anyone for granted and take time to appreciate the small stuff.