I have led a charmed life, and never had to spend Christmas away from family. Never, not once in my scant 24 years. So this year, my very first Christmas away, I had the Christmas blues. Luckily, that’s where the talented Jane Kim and the whole Kim family (and friends) stepped in and invited me over for Christmas lunch. I was actually invited over to help Mrs. Kim (Christina), cook lunch. She let me hold a knife for about five seconds before she decided I wasn’t up to the task and she better just cook everything herself. It was a wise choice, because the food was amazing!
Mrs.Kim is not only a phenomenal cook, she is also an exceedingly gracious hostess. The second I put my utensils down she sprung out of her seat, anxious to know if I needed anything else. The answer was always no, because I had already crossed the threshold of full and was edging in the danger zone, but Mrs. Kim took that as some sort of modesty and forced more food on me anyway (in the most motherly, adorable way possible). Jane tried to save me from the onslaught, but she was no match for her mom.
The elder Kims decided that since I had no family in Korea, it was their duty to adopt me- so I was given the Korean name “Mikuk-ddal” which means “American daughter”, and they said that I should call them “Hangul-Oma” and “Hangul-Apa”, which is Korean Mom and Korean Dad. They also insisted that I come back every weekend to their house because it was safe and I should be with family on my weekends anyway. Jane had the thankless job of translating from English to Korean- her ability to swing back and forth between two languages that have so little in common is mind boggling. Her translations were often accompanied with her own commentary, which (like her) was hilarious. If you couldn’t tell, the Kim family is wonderful, and I am absurdly lucky that they took me in.
After all that eating, we decided to go for a walk around Anyang, the suburb of Seoul where the Kims live. It was a beautiful, sunny Christmas day in South Korea.
And because we walked for a bit, Mrs. Kim decided that we needed to eat again. I definitely did not need to eat again, but I did anyway. Because Taiwanese shave ice is delicious, and it was Christmas, dammit.
Even though I was about as physically far away from home as could be, it still felt like Christmas. And for that, I have to thank the Kims 🙂