Friday, November 28, 2008

Chapter Thirty: East Meets West Thanksgiving

So, yesterday was Thanksgiving. I had been talking to friends about it for a while--I decided there was no way that I wouldn't have Thanksgiving just because I was in Korea. Arthur had the same thought. His parents sent him tons of things that he needed to make Thanksgiving and my mother sent me a bunch of stuff too. Our powers combined, we showed five other people their first Thanksgiving.

Yesterday morning, it was strange to get up and go to work, knowing it was Thanksgiving. Kelly asked me about it before my first class, "It is a big holiday for you, right?" It kind of struck me at that moment that it is a big holiday for us, as Americans. It's not religious, it's not patriotic, it's not overly-commercial. It does have a checkered past, but for what it is now, it means a lot to me. Growing up white in America, you don't have many chances to feel like you have your own culture. When all you ever do is the same thing that everyone else is doing, you don't think about it. It was interesting to explain Thanksgiving not just to the Korean teachers, but also to the other Westerners. It reminded me that I am part of a culture-- the American melting pot (or is it a tossed salad now?).
Above you can see the glorious set-up, complete with very little matching tableware, kimchi, and the turkey center piece.

Arthur, carving the bird. Yep, that is a rotisserie chicken from Costco. Turkeys were like 60,000 won and we had nowhere to cook it. I was pretty excited to have another dinner party in my apartment. I'm amazed that we squeezed seven people at the table, but we did have to borrow three chairs from school to do so.

In Arthur's bowl, you can see my homemade squash soup. Like I made two years ago, except this time without a recipe! I blended up the squash with some chicken broth and tomato paste. Then I added onions and cherry tomatoes. It was a hit!

Arthur gives dinner one big thumbs-up. In the background, you can see that we didn't have enough table or counter space, so my bed held the dessert. Ah, studio apartment living.

The American hosts.

And Korean style!

Dini tells me that sticking leaf confetti to your face is a Thanksgiving tradition. Little known fact.

I really enjoy the juxtaposition of the Corelle Wear bowl of cranberry sauce next to the earthen bowl of Kimchi. East meets West.

"Yes, Mom, I did make the green bean casserole! Lookit that! And no, I am not going to keep it as leftover so that I don't get botulism."

Time for dessert. Arthur got us a pumpkin pie and I made the pumpkin monkey bread that my mom sent me (thanks mom!). Everyone was so full, we took one bite, stared at our food for a while, then took another. Arthur and I assured everyone that it was the proper way to enjoy Thanksgiving.

Monkey bread in the foreground and a very approving Nicole in the background.

What would Thanksgiving in Korea be without the soju...

And the candy corn?

Arthur created a confetti Korea, which is pretty amazing. Complete with some of the islands!

I made my own island. I think that Greenport is the gold turkey between two red turkeys on the North Fork.

Nicole's Australia.

Arthur's Georgia.

I felt like it would be unfair of me not to make Massachusetts after how well she treated me for four years. Long Island, Massachusetts, you will always be competing for the title of "home."

'Merica! ala Arthur.

Last, but not least, Great Britain by Chris.

In the end, I'd say it was a really great Thanksgiving. Definitely better than last year, but merely consuming more than a piece of toast would make it better than last year. I spent a lot of dinner thinking about the folklore about Thanksgiving: the white people present the natives with a feast to thank them for helping them survive. It kind of felt that way having Koreans and non-Americans over for Thanksgiving. Without them, I certainly wouldn't have made it this far.

As the days fly by, I am getting closer to the day in late December when I will leave Korea. I know it is for the best for innumerable reasons, but I will also miss it here. I love this city, I love my students, and I love the whole adventure. Nevertheless, I am happy to be leaving when I know I will still be able to look back on this as an overwhelmingly positive experience.

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