Monday, December 30, 2013

You Serious, Clark?

Christmas has yet again come and gone, this one being, I believe, my fourth away from home. I'm already looking forward to next year when it will actually feel like Christmas and I can easily get the things I want (turkey, proper wrapping paper...) and be able to be with my family.

Christmas is only somewhat of a holiday here. It's been catching on over the past few years so there are decorations on store windows and music playing and trees up in the department stores and a big display of Christmas lights in the Nampo area that people flock to see, so there is a bit of holiday spirit in the's just not, you know, home. It's just not the same and not done to the magnitude that a Westerner is accustomed, so there is a little bit to be desired. Christmas Eve is a working day here, so I spent my day at school making construction paper Christmas trees with the kids.

My mom mailed our box of Christmas gifts and it arrived right on time, so Al and I woke up Christmas morning, put on the Elvis Christmas album (it's what my family always played on Christmas) and opened gifts. I don't care how old I am really, one never tires of opening dozens of Christmas presents. 

I got a new camera, which I'm super stoked about, I just need to figure out how to use it. I wanted a nicer one than what I have so I can get some good pictures on our European vacay, so that was my big gift from my mother. I can set things manually, which I think will allow me to take some much better pictures, I just don't know what I'm doing yet. Help!

We cleaned up all the paper and moved all the furniture around because all of our friends were coming over for Christmas that night. We decided that since we had the room and a good setup for Thanksgiving that we'd also just go ahead and do Christmas. A few weeks prior we had done a Secret Santa drawing, so more presents were to be unwrapped! 

Everyone I love here came and the mood was jolly. We had delicious food (everyone was in agreement it was even better than Thanksgiving) and I made a pumpkin cheesecake that was a huge hit. 

He wanted old man glasses to go with his outfit

Secret Santa!

Tom was Santa and added gift opening commentary



Everyone left about 2am and we had to work at 9 the next morning, which was the start of the kids' winter "vacation", meaning my hours now shift to morning. Which is fine, get in early, get out early. I finish at 2:35 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and 1:45 on Thursday Friday. Not a bad day. I won't be taking it for granted; it's my last semester. 

It's Monday and I'm off today, tomorrow and the 1st. Not much of a vacation considering I had 7 days straight off last year, but I'll take what I can get. Onward to 2014!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Holiday Away

Thanksgiving came and went with about as much excitement as it does back home, just perhaps with a little less cranberry sauce and a lot less family. On Thanksgiving Day, I wasn't about to do any studying at school just for the principal that it was a holiday to me. Al was there at school with me so we got some brown, red and yellow paper and made hand turkeys with our classes, to much delight of the students who neither know nor care that it's Thanksgiving, as long as they don't have to study. The older kids know of Thanksgiving, so they were also just as delighted to do a Thanksgiving crossword puzzle while I sat on the computer and scrolled through Pinterest. Not much of a Thanksgiving Day, but hey! Hand turkeys are better than nothing.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving was the big feast hoorah at our apartment. We squeezed over 30 bodies in our minuscule apartment, though much more comfortably than we imagined. We got three fully-cooked turkey breasts at Costco, I made enough mashed potatoes to feed an army, two pumpkin pies and our friend Jess, who has recently returned, brought stuffing back from America. That covers the basics, plus we had a dish or contribution from every person, including but not limited to: broccoli casserole, curried carrots, sweet potatoes, artichoke dip and some bacon-wrapped rice concoction which Sophie brought that I believe people are now clambering over themselves trying to get the recipe. Everyone had a great time, even though Americans make up maybe only 60% of our group of friends. But who doesn't love getting together and eating, despite the celebration?

Boys peeling potatoes

Full to the brim!

After Thanksgiving is the only appropriate time to put up the Christmas tree if you ask me, so that's what Al and I did Tuesday night. It's the same tree and decorations as last year, but it's cute nonetheless! 

Look at him flexing for the picture

Our friend Will decided on a whim not even a month ago that he was over Korea and wanted to move to Shanghai with some other friends we have there. Get a new start. So that's exactly what he did. Will has been a constant in our lives for nearly two years, so it's really strange that he's not here. I miss him terribly, and I can say it a million times, but it's the worst part of this job. Wednesday night was the last time we saw him and really have no idea when we will ever again. We miss you so much, Will! 

Getting pretty excited for Christmas! My last one in another country. I can't even remember the last Christmas I had with my family in America. Many, many years ago. Well, here's to my last set of holidays abroad!