As many people know, thanksgiving was held last week Thursday in the United States. In Canada it is held on the second Monday in October. So I thought it a little strange that one of my Canadian friends, Leon, invited me to a Thanksgiving celebration at his house on Saturday. But in Korea anything goes so I said sure, I would come. So Saturday I canceled my other plans and started making cherry delight, a dessert I know that Leon and his wife, Purun, really love. I was lucky to have the ingredients I needed in the house and proceeded to make it diabetic friendly by reducing the sugar over 70%. I made myself a diet drink from powder and went to pick Allison up. It was a short two blocks from her house but I had never been there before so I didn’t know where it was. With her directions we found it easily and in being two or three minutes late for the three o’clock start, we ended up being the first people there by over 20 minutes. Leon and Purun had made mashed potatoes, ham, stuffing, gravy and roasted some vegetables so I thought that was terrific. What I didn’t know was he had invited many more people. Couples and singles walked in, some with the burden of alcohol, some with the burden of food. More potatoes, this time roasted, vegetables, salads, and other desserts. We were running out of room to put food when we started to eat an hour or so later. The food was very good but I could only manage a plateful and then I had some desserts.
Before the rest of the crowd came, Purun showed me the main level of their home. So much very beautiful wood. Their home is lovely and I want her kitchen! We sat down to eat and I ended up talking to a guy I had never met before, Stefan. He has the same name as one of my cousins. There were people I knew from a long time ago but there were also new ones. I didn’t get introduced to them all but that is fine because I would not have remembered them all anyway. There were a lot of Korean wives or girlfriend who ended up together speaking Korean with Purun. The home was large so they could sit together in a room separate from the men and enjoy themselves while the men hung out upstairs in the game room, outside on the roof or in the kitchen. Often the women don’t know the other foreign men and if they do they cannot hang out with men not their husbands or boyfriends because they are already hanging out together. So the Korean partners are generally forced to gather together. One man brought an American Korean working on the military base in Gunsan. She had a problem - she didn’t fit into the Korean wife/girlfriend zone because she’s American first and raised that way. She probably would have liked to hang out with Allison and I but we were leaving soon after she arrived, because she got there much later than us. Allison’s back was hurting her and I was really tired. Of the men I knew, I only knew one to be American. All told, there were just three American men and one woman. The rest of the foreigners in the group were from other countries, like New Zealand and South Africa, but the majority were Canadians.
It does hearten me to see that foreigners still gather together to celebrate the holidays. In my first year in Jeonju that was how I met most foreigners and formed friendships, but I soon made stronger relationships with my Korean friends and those are the people I invite to my home for meals or celebrations, but I still include a couple of foreigners.