Friday, 25 December 2009

First Christmas

Christmas Eve, we had spent the entire day watching movies in the spirit of Christmas, ranging from the ever-so-endearing Miracle on 34th Street to the not-so-innocent Elf.

For this 2009 holiday season, Ken and I decided to give back to our humble community. Despite living in one of the smallest towns in Korea, we made up our minds to bring a little Christmas spirit to our tiny village of Andeok. The retirement community, hardworking shop owners, and innocent children were deserving of a little Christmas cheer.

Donning a stunning Santa suit, trimmed in feathery white cotton and completed with a complementary hat and beard, Ken stuffed the belly of his costume with the largest pillow he could find, held together merely by a simple red ribbon. With wrapped chocolate bars and assorted candies, both of us headed out to our village’s only main road – Ken carrying the bag of sugary goodies, and me videotaping the entire episode.

First, we stopped to visit the retirement recreation center. Its members were competitively playing against each other in Korean cricket, even though the temperature was a chilly –5oC. They gratefully accepted some candy and were receptive in our effort to cast happiness to everyone around.

The busy construction workers were next. Even though it was the 25th, they would never take a breath to rest, as was shown by the mountain of coffee cans that had collected at the base of their site. Even when offered gifts of sugary sweets, they never came down from their scaffold, and thanked us from up above.

The local convenience store, the owners, now our cherished friends, kept up their bubbly attitude as we stopped by to say hello and give chocolaty treats.

The bus station was the most eventful. Its passengers were in the frigid cold waiting room, and were more than curious about the costumed stranger handing out candy. One ajumma was very confused and probably a little scared…it took a few extra attempts before other passengers convinced her to accept Santa.

Our next stop was my home school, Andeok Middle and High School. Some of the school’s students sprinted towards us to meet the strange jolly man. Of course, their ‘hellos’ were replaced with ‘Santa, give me candy! Candy, candy!’

We didn’t forget to reach our town’s grumpy pharmacist, the town’s many generous restaurant owners, and many of the other residents, who were curiously peering out of their windows to take a gander at the ‘HO HO HO!’ commotion. We were well-received by many of the townsfolk who asked us to ‘Come back again!’

Our last stop was our loving landlord’s home. Sadly, when we came upon her land, all we could see were the remains of her once lush apple orchard, which was now in smoldering ruins. It was Christmas Day, and Aunt Kimchi was spending the day setting fire to her trees. We hustled over to where she was and surprisingly, she had a widespread smile on her face. We found out that she was planning on replanting her orchard with younger trees. What a satisfying Christmas gift to the self! Aunt Kimchi warmly invited us inside for some apple cider and cookies, completing our holiday escapade.

With festive shouts of ‘Merry Christmas!’ to all around, we turned in, satisfied that we had spread a little Christmas joy throughout our quiet Korean community.

- Jess


  1. Stop making me cry!!! I'm certain, without a doubt, that you guys will forever be remembered when you leave Andeok! Your names and stories about you will be told for generations to come...Keep being yourselves. You make us all so proud of both of you - way over here back home.

  2. What a great idea! The video was really nice to watch.

  3. mini Danny