It has officially been Christmas for 10 minutes, now. I have officially had all of my presents unwrapped for probably 8 hours, though. Turns out I can't be trusted! Yesterday really turned out to be a fun day. I got to work and already everything was set up on the fourth floor for the day's festivities. When I got into class, I had the options of 1) teaching a lesson, or 2) screwing off. I chose the latter and had a word find prepared ("Kate, did you prepare for your classes this morning?" "Sure did!"). Fortunately, by the time my boss walked by the classroom the kids were very adorably lined up and singing their two Christmas carols for the competition after lunch.
We had Market Day, where we spent the "talent" money they had been saving for the last month. My kids have extra classes after normal kindergarten, so they had over 100 talents each--we definitely ran out of prizes, but I think they all got things that were halfway interesting to them. After lunch, we had singing, then Santa (Chris) came and gave out presents. He did a really good job, and the kids totally thought the white guy in the red suit was really Santa. Now that I've had a day to reflect, I smile with slight wistfulness at the fact that my peers are now playing Santa instead of believing in him.
Santa and his reindeer left, leaving me with 6 kids, 6 unopened presents, and 35 minutes left of class. So we all headed downstairs to our class, sneaked by Yuria Teacher, and opened our presents one-by-one. My favorite picture of 2008 is the one I took of Max opening his present. His parents used super evil tape and super evil metal/plastic wrapping paper that was impenetrable to tearing. It required Kate Teacher to arrive to the rescue with her magic scissors. (I love that being old enough to use real scissors qualifies me as a hero!) Everyone got some pretty cool stuff, except for Nick. He got a pair of sheep mittens. While they were absolutely adorable (aka "steal-able"), they did kind of compare to Kevin's remote-controlled car. I guess Santa really did know who was good and who was naughty.
At the end of the day, I had a package to take home and a sudden urge to walk. Mel helped me home with a small surprise package from Sara (heart), and I kept pace pretty well. It was still a pretty long walk for someone who recently learned how to put on shoes again, so a few hours later we took a taxi to meet with the other foreigners at Fish and Grill.
Hilarity ensued (keeping pace with the soju, I reckon), and I do feel lucky to work with such great people.
Today had its equally up points. Like, seeing my family in front of the tree at night via webcam. It wasn't as wonderful as we had hoped it would be, but it was still great to see everyone together. My mom is currently taking care of my sister's guinea pig and my American hamster; I think dad got jealous, because he seems to be growing a rodent on his chin. My sister is rocking a darker hair color, now, and my mom's hair is all short and cute-uh. I even got to see my 10-year-old puppy.
That led to a small amount of homesickness. When I signed up for Korea, I had hoped that something would work out--my family might come here, I might get time off to go home--but in the end I spent Christmas Eve alone. To me, though, Christmas Eve IS Christmas. Christmas Day is a lot like a repeat of Thanksgiving, just with new pajamas and slippers at breakfast. Christmas Eve, though, has driving around to see how people decorated, and candle light service at church, and appetizers for dinner at home, followed by presents--equal excitement for giving as receiving.
Once I decided to pull myself out of the hole I created, I tied up my sneakers (yay!) and headed to Home Plus. I did some random shopping there, hoping that any electronic would jump out at me and provide some sort of entertainment, but to no avail. I did stand in the rice cooker aisle for about five minutes, faking out the clerk. It's impossible to shop without someone being more than five feet away for assistance (theft-prevention) purposes. I really need a picture of the entire aisle of rice cookers, though, it's unfathomable back home. After buying more crap to send home to my sister (when did I start shopping for my sister all the time?), I walked over to Outback. (You have no idea the joy I take in typing the words, I walked.) It was hard being seated alone in the midst of so many families, but after a few seconds I was good and enjoyed my pasta and Coke. I was even served by the manager! Tipping is verrrry uncustomary in Korea, but it's Christmas, so I left a full 25% and felt quite pleased.
After dinner, I paused and looked up where I knew the movie theater to be. I said to myself, Self, do you want to go home all depressed just to eat the rest of Sara's cookies? Or are you going to try something fun even though you're a little bummed out? I gave it a shot, and I got there with ten minutes to spare before Yes Man started to play. The movie was really good, and kind of reinforced my decision to be here in Korea.
Something kind of cute about the movie is, Jim Carrey's character decided to learn Korean, and everyone in the audience perked up the same way my family perks up when Montana is mentioned in a movie. They really liked part of the movie being in Korean (probably 90 seconds worth), and I liked that it was in English subtitles when necessary.
Afterward I walked all the way home. I stumbled once, and it didn't hurt! I cried out in fear that it would 1) hurt, or 2) break, but it did neither to my pleasant surprise. And when I got home, my mom was already up and ready to talk to her first born, which really brought the day to a soothing close.
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