I was blessed this year to celebrate my thankfulness twice! If you don't remember, last year I spent the holiday in the company of Americans with a dinner on the Marine base here. This year was quite different. I like to call both celebrations International American Thanksgivings.
Shaun and I plus all of our friends in Uljin made the four and a half hour trip up to Suwon (close to Seoul) where we were graciously welcomed by Angela. She opened her home to all of us for the weekend and got all of the food for an American Feast. Only it wasn't only Americans in attendance. We had Americans, Canadians, Koreans, Brits and a South African. For some it was their first Thanksgiving! And of course, we all went around and shared what we were thankful for.
After the big meal we all had to unbutton our pants for a while (it really happened...) and then we got rowdy with a game of charades. Amy forgot to keep score but I'm sure my team won. Next we headed out to explore the night life of Suwon. Good times were had by all. The real fun (although not fun at the time) came the morning after when the stragglers stumbled in.
This story probably isn't nearly as funny if you weren't there but I'm going to tell you anyways because it was hilarious. I'll begin the story with noting that I had only gotten four hours of sleep in the past 48 hours. Lack of sleep mixed with turkey and drinks made for an exhausted Heather. Shaun and I plus a few others went back early in hopes of falling asleep before the others got home. Wrong. After many interruptions we were all sleeping soundly by 7 a.m. Then at 9 someone's phone starting going off. It was Amy's, who wasn't aware there was a phone alarm going off. So we tried to get her to turn it off. Mission accomplished? No. Five minutes later it starts again. I, a little aggravated at this point, calmly (not really..) told Amy to find her phone and turn it off. She struggled to open her purse from the wrong end first. Then she got it open. Finally. And pulled out her... Candy bar. The group heard me yell, "AMY THAT'S A CANDY BAR NOT YOUR PHONE!" Amy proceeds to open her chocolate to take a bite.
Funny? No? Guess you had to be there. Amy I think your candy bar is ringing. Better answer it.
Weeks prior to Thanksgiving my friend May and I thought it would be a good idea to have a dinner with friends. That turned into fifteen friends crammed into my little studio apartment. I made four chickens (turkeys are non-existent in Korea besides on military bases), stuffing, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes. The rest of the fixings were provided by all my friends.
We had Americans, Canadians, South Africans and Koreans! Again, it was the first Thanksgiving for some. Everyone was thankful for family, friends and the opportunities we all have being teachers in Korea. Bellies were full and wine was flowing (I counted 16 empty bottles scattered on my floor the next day). We rounded out the night Korean-style with noraebang! Who doesn't like karaoke after Thanksgiving dinner? Beat that America!
Almost a month later, my apartment has finally recovered. I won't be hosting Christmas this year...
Until now, I had decided to end my stay in Korea and return to America for good in February. Upon some thinking and number crunching, I've decided it's in my best interested to stay here. Most of my good friends are staying another year so why not? I've re-signed with my school for one more year! I'll be sad to be away from my family and friends for yet another year's holidays but think of it this way, I'll be able to save up and afford great Christmas gifts in 2014!
Korea is actually a wonderful place to spend the holidays. All my teacher friends are in the same boat - away from family. We are each other's family.
Happy Holidays, all!