Posts Tagged ‘chritty’

read any expat blog about being away during christmas and they will all suggest the same thing:

“just get drunk and forget that it ever happened.”

now i’m not one to heed the advice of others (especially those dangerous self-labelled “backpackers”) but this suggestion seemed as good excuse as any to deck the halls of okpo. and unbeknownst to me, it’s practically a ritual in korea to get downright belligerent the day before the most family-driven heavy hitters of all holidays. (not to mention the race to the nearest love motel for those coupled-up koreans. but tis neither here nor there).

now i can’t speak for everyone (especially those solo korean males, left with only a room key and a half-empty pint of cass), but i was filled with all kinds of gin-inspired christmas cheer. the kind of cheer that really only meant me stationing myself next to the pretty christmas lights at any of the better bars and spending the rest of my drink snapping shots of the twinkles while requesting mariah carey christmas classics for the umpteenth time.  i left my surliness and aggressive headlocks at home. and i probably only lied, like, once….my very own christmas miracle! 

now that’s not to say i took all of this advice to heart. yes, we upped the ante a bit and even finally closed the case on what’s hiding behind those black-tinted windows of foreigner clubs that contribute a lil’ something special to okpo’s “charm.” but it’s not like i could just do as these righteous backpackers do, and forget that christmas day even exists.

instead of blatantly ignoring the day, i celebrated december two-five with a handful of pals and solid intervals of delicious meals followed by pirated christmas-centric movies . i think i passed out sometime around the time when ralphie parker started to narrate his cleveland christmas of 1940.

even though i didn’t get an official red rider carbine-action two-hundred shot range bb gun or the asian easy bake oven that i blatantly requested, i still think that this christmas was pretty much fantastic.


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“even though i know christmas is less than a week away, it just doesn’t feel like it.”

i whimpered something along these lines last week as i walked to school wearing the same sort of get-up that i wore when i first experienced the okpo factor back in august. without snow on the ground, or any real temperatures dipping below the 10 degrees mark, i was finding it difficult to get into the christmas spirit.

to me, i can always tell christmas is coming when i have to give up my dirty moccasins with wool socks combo for something that is more suited for ice, snow, and anything else that occurs between the months of december and february. now for me, this often happens all too late in the game (and my feet are usually already soaked at this point), but i’ll most likely start to accept that it is now time for winter. and winter means christmas. and christmas means new socks. and new socks mean that i can now wear them with my dirty salt-stained moccasins (see? it all comes full-circle).  


but without the snow, i can continue to make poor footwear choices. and since i apparently use my shoes as my solstice calendar, it’s still october in my mind. (geoje weather does absolutely nothing to dispute this illogical reasoning.)

lucky for me, a mandatory work weekend caused a glance over to my real calendar (and not my feet). the day started with a two. and ended with a zero. 

game on, christmas.

there was no messing around when it came to christmas training for korean kiddies. lessons included the importance of starting a steady diet of sugar and chocolate well before the 25th. we all know that without any real preparation, an overload of toblerones and jujubes on the morning of christmas, is a recipe for holiday trouble.

and this is why the advent calendar was invented. because without this daily cocoa build-up, millions of children around the world would be wincing in corners (and clutching their stomach in sugar-agony) before mom could even hand out the brand-new christmas day pajamas. 


christmas training also meant that i was assigned wreath-duty. hands down it was a major success. a weekend of red & green paper crafts had me running for my closet and searching for the warmest pair of shoes i could find. i mean, so what if the kiddies didn’t really understand the door decor purpose of a wreath?

as the kiddies ran off, wearing their wreaths as hats, i didn’t care much. my feet were toasty warm. 

i’m ready for you, christmas. i have socks and shoes to prove it.

(sidebar: i really hope that dami’s parents step up this year and buy her a subscription to e-harmony. with this matchmaking service in place, it shouldn’t be too hard to find her a handsome helmet-hair korean boy with disproportioned fire-red arms and legs and black-as-night googly eyes. or at the very least… just get her a new ipod).

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i consider myself an excellent gift-giver.

perhaps that came off a bit arrogant but seriously, i  am jealous of those handfuls who receive bang-up gifts from me each and every year. from concert tickets to hilarious movies (most of which were straight-to- dvd releases) to fantastic value village finds, if you’re on my christmas list, consider yourself l-u-c-k-y.

as i think about this more, perhaps i am not such an excellent gift-giver. instead, i have that garish quality of buying people gifts that in reality, i would like to receive. i buy concert tickets for others so that i can go, i buy movies that i want to watch, and i buy value village gifts in the hopes that you will forget it one weekend and i can take advantage of it until you are back and i will place it right back where i found it.  

this year is really no exception.

in the spirit of giving (with a price limit of 25,000 won), i volunteered to buy presents for a couple kiddies who are associated with one of the local orphanages in geoje. not only would i have liked to receive every gift i picked up, but i also realized i haven’t the faintest idea what a 13 year old korean boy would like for christmas.

the dilemma was this: do i buy the sword that lights up AND comes with some sort of secret key OR do i go for the electric blue amazonian elephant that morphs into a power ranger. see? my life is tough here in okpo.

as i gushed to tb about these fantastic finds, a korean couple overheard and cautiously let me know that the elephant-turned-power-ranger and sword-with-secret-key are actually both best suited for the under-5 crowd. (dear korean parents: the finger dexterity and developmental stage of your kindergartener is far beyond that of any north american 5 year old).  their suggestion? “something for their studies.”

since “educational” is not in my gift-giving criteria, i settled on one of the tried-and-true gifts…a dvd. (the dilemma was then between avatar or night at the museum 2. then i remembered that i wanted to brighten up this kid’s day…not depress him with ben stiller’s acting. so hopefully he finds hope and inspiration in watching blue people plug their ponytails into pterodactyls).  

luckily the gift for the preteen girl was less of a struggle.

check this shit out. you can make your own sushi!

it’s essentially asia’s answer to the easy-bake oven. but better. this girl can make sushi shaped as grapes or better yet, bears. BEARS! i’m not exactly sure how it works but it’s probably awesome and i hope all the other kiddies will be jealous of her when she’s chomping down on rice and seaweed leaves in the shape of smokey (you know, like the bear).

blog readers take note. this is all i really want for christmas.

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