Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'Tis the Season

Merry Christmas everyone :)

For those who spent it at home with family and friends - I hope it was a very special and beautiful holiday.
For those of you who like me, were away from home for whatever reason, I hope you got to spend it with good company and made some awesome memories!

I cannot really believe I'm writing a Christmas post. This year has flown by somehow, and it feels like yesterday that I was concerned about being away from home for the first time but was reassuringly telling myself not to think about it. Now it's come and gone and it really wasn't all that bad :) Let me start at the beginning...

We went to Seoul a few weeks ago for Nicola's birthday, to go and see Phantom of the Opera. It was the first time (other than Lotte World I guess) that I really felt like maybe it was Christmas. Seoul had many decorations up, Starbucks had their Christmas cups out...it was cold and festive. Now I've had this chat with Su, who is from England, and we were saying that there's nothing quite like a cold Christmas. Last year I was in Europe for the time leading up to Christmas and it was magical; I loved having hot chocolate and crepes and all the nice things to warm you up while exploring the Winter Christmas fetes and markets. Coming from SA, the weather at this time is always warm and time is spent by the pool, relaxing and being outside. So that's what I'm used to. But I really love the atmosphere of a Winter Festive Season and being in Korea has been no different.
(Phantom of the Opera was mind-blowingly awesome, by the way).

This is us in a subway in Seoul
So after that weekend, it became apparent that Christmas was coming. I received a box from home from my family packed with presents which helped me get excited! The first real celebration started with girls day last week Wednesday. We had the day off for 'election day' here, so a bunch of us got together at a friends place, brought crafts to make decorations, a ton of junk food and took amazing awkward, awful sweater pictures (an idea Esti got off Imgur). They proved to be a huge success, here is the one of Nic and me:

After that came the Christmas party on Saturday, hosted once again by Adina (the hostess with the mostest) and this was a lot of fun. We had a 'white elephant' present exchange where my penguin hat got stolen but I was rewarded with an awesome wrist warmer, used for napping at your desk! Everyone brought an array of yummy foods, we drank egg nog and were merry. Afterwards we went into town for dinner and some drinks, then went to Jecheon's new "club", King Kong, where one of the Jecheonians was DJ-ing and we danced the night away.

The tree

The hostess

The hat
Now Korea isn't big on Christmas. Yes the decorations go up and sometimes you catch a Korean carol here and there but the spirit of the season definitely never reaches the rice lands as much as it does back home. As such, we only got the 25th off from school. This in itself was really weird for me, and I found myself sitting at my desk on Monday, wondering what I was doing here and wishing for the excitement of home. But my computer has finally been given the power of sound so I sat at my desk, listening to carols on YouTube and doing the best I could to feel like it was Christmas eve. I had worn a red scarf and bow to school which received many an exclamation of "Santa style" and "wow, fantastic"  from kids and teachers alike. I also handed out mini candy canes to my students which they seemed to love. So working on Christmas eve wasn't the end of the world.

Once we were done with school, it was off to Emart to buy all the food stuffs for our big dinner the next day. Afterwards, we went to my place to decorate cookies, listen to carols, and watch a Christmas movie. It was really nice to chill before the storm...we were also treated to some authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate thanks to Jeanette which was delish! I thought it was an excuse to wear my onesie again too, and although I still wasn't feeling all that festive, it was a lovely evening spent in the company of great friends. It had started to lightly snow, which made me super excited as my only wish was for a white Christmas!

Decorating cookies. Esti got really creative...*clears throat*

Onesie cuteness 
I woke up on Christmas morning, looked out the window and saw snowflakes falling - I was done! That was all I wanted, and although the snow was over early and didn't last (it was really just a fresh dusting) I felt like my little wish came true. From then on it was full swing into dinner prep. There were 9 of us coming to dinner and each had a certain task. Our kitchens are small so we prepped in little groups and I was Su's assistant for the day. Really  I was assistant tea drinker (wine later on). I was very grateful to spend the day in her company, and watch the pro at work ;) Everything went really smoothly. We spent most afternoon just getting things ready, putting the roast pork in, all the little things. Only once everyone else arrived and we had to put the meal together and do all the last minute things like gravy did it get a bit crazy.

I must take my hat off to everyone involved. They did the most outstanding job. We had roast chicken and pork, mashed potatoes and sweet potato mash, peas, roast veg, 2 kinds of stuffing, cauliflower and brocolli with cheese sauce, sausage rolls, gravy and yorkshire puddings. For dessert we had pavlova, apple crumble with custard and spiced cream, mince pies and cookies. Angela made egg nog and Esti made mulled wine. It was a feast. I know it sounds like an average Christmas meal to some but everything was done from scratch - pastry, alles. Nothing was pre-made and store bought. The amount of effort that went into this meal is actually making me feel a little emotional typing this out. Su and Esti did a wonderful job of hosting, thank you. And thank you to everyone involved - we pulled off the best Christmas away from our homes that I think any of us could have hoped for. The night was spent chatting, sharing stories, taking a rest after all the food we ate and ended with a Home Alone screening at Tom and Anna's (they have a projector, it is awesome). I got to skype with my family, including my grandparents, which was amazing and the box of presents to open really helped the day seem that much more special.

The meal - minus the yorkshires. 

Su, me and Esti <3 

The beautiful Angela and Estelle 

Angela and Nicola's amazing pavlova 
Some of the cookies: made by Su and decorated by Nic and me

All of us. Merry Christmas 

Being away for Christmas wasn't easy. I felt like I was pushing thoughts of home aside, and focusing more on the fact that I was getting a day off from school rather than the holiday itself. But in the end it was such a beautiful day, spent with my Jecheon family. And who could ask for better? When you live abroad, your friends become so much more than that - they become the family you rely on to make days like these feel special. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such awesome friends.

If I'm sounding sentimental and emotional it's because I am - boxing day blues have hit, feeling exhausted from all the festivities lately and I realise I have a limited time left with these beautiful people. How lucky I am.

To everyone back home who sent messages and wishes, thank you. I appreciated it immensely. I hope you all had a wonderful day.

As we prepare to see the new year in, I am grateful for everything Korea has given me, most of all my little family away from home.

No comments:

Post a Comment