I took a couple days off from blogging to prepare for the Christmas season. As usual, there’s too much work involved getting ready for Christmas to consider it enjoyable. The annual ritual plays out as follows: Put up Christmas tree and trappings, put together Christmas list, buy Christmas cards and gifts, write Christmas cards, wrap Christmas presents, mail Christmas presents, and prepare for the Christmas meal, and take down Christmas paraphernalia. Using overseas living as a cover, I’m modifying our Christmas regimen this year. Most people will receive Christmas wishes by e-mail from us this year. We’re only going to send out about 20 Christmas cards, mostly to family members, and we’ll e-mail our Christmas letter with some personalized wishes to everyone else. As our Christmas list grows, I’m glad technology will finally be helpful. I would prefer to send cards by snail mail, but it’s just too much work. I think it detracts from the spirit of the holiday to set up a Christmas card factory for the sake of tradition. Fortunately, this is the very first year since we married in which we will spend Christmas Day at our home. In the past, we either spent Christmas with my parents or celebrated it on vacation overseas. I’m relishing the opportunity to be home for the holidays.
Today we hosted a party at our home for my wife’s Korean coworkers. It was exceptional. Most attendees had never been to an American-style Christmas party with holiday ambiance, western food (no kimchi!), Santa Claus, and a gift exchange. We prepared a mountain of food for the event, including London broil, roast chicken, Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, smoked salmon, deviled eggs, mini quiche, salad, fruit, cookies, and pumpkin and apple pie. We also offered an assortment of drinks, ranging from soda pop to Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whiskey, a Korean favorite. Most attendees drank wine, soju, a Korean liquor, or Coca-Cola. We held back the egg nog because Koreans do not usually drink milk products.
Following dinner, Santa Claus made a special appearance. OK, it wasn’t really Santa Claus–I absconded a Santa suit and suited up for the occasion. St. Nicholas is much too busy getting ready for Christmas and visiting shopping malls to come by our little ol’ house for a visit. We actually have our own Santa suit at work for representational events. I borrowed the suit for an event on Monday, so I brought it home and gave it a dry run. Back in the states, my father and his wife have portrayed Santa and Mrs. Claus on numerous occasions, visiting children and the elderly around Christmastime. I was happy to carry on the legacy. I am a bit young to play Santa, but I’m stout and can bellow a hearty "Ho ho ho!" (Someone told me I sound like the announcer from the game show, "The Price is Right.") I can’t believe how hot it is inside a Santa suit. I was itching to take it off the minute I put it on! The hat was heavy and kept slipping off my head, and I repeatedly had to adjust my gray hair piece (note to self–use hairpins). I now know what all those mall Santas have to go through wearing hot, itchy Santa suits and putting up with distressed children. Poor guys. I’m glad I only had to portray Santa for about 20 minutes. Some of the children at our party were scared of me dressed as Santa. One little boy who took a liking to me began to cry when his parents tried to put him on my lap. Fortunately, my son was in on the ruse and helped bring other children over for gifts and photos. He knew that daddy was playing Santa and called me "Daddy Santa." I thought it was cute. Mommy served as Santa’s helper, although she forgot to put on her "Santa’s Helper" ballcap. After handing out gifts to all the good children and submitting to a photo op, Santa disappeared. I posted some of the photos from Santa’s appearance in the photos section.
Following Santa’s visit, we held a gift exchange. The "exchange" included the ability to steal a gift if you preferred someone else’s treasure to your own, much like a "white elephant" gift exchange. I participated in the exchange on behalf of a partner at my wife’s firm who had to leave the party early. I made sure he got the Jim Bean American bourbon whiskey. I didn’t think he would enjoy the body care set or the scented candles. I don’t think that Koreans are familiar with "white elephant-style" gift exchanges, so it was a fun and unique experience for them. They brought us many wonderful gifts, including Korean and Australian wine and a bowl and dish set. I have to go so I can start writing thank-you cards.