Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day!

This Thanksgiving Day passed without a turkey to be seen. You'd be surprised how little Koreans are aware of our North American bird the turkey. It didn't bother me so much last year when Thanksgiving Day came and went. This year, it sort of got under my skin. Sure, I miss my family and not being able to be with them back home in the states on important holidays can make a huge difference. However, there was something else that irked me.

This past Halloween, the kindergarten I worked at made a big event of the day. We ate candy and dressed up as little monsters, princesses & superheroes. We traveled in our little buses to the homes of a few students to receive candy from parents. We made it to be a day that encouraged the kids to see it as an important American holiday.

Now, do remember that I really gave up on Halloween in my teens. My family didn't particularly agree with the whole celebratory aspect of Halloween and what it stood for. As children our parents participated as do most American families. However, as my sister and I grew up Halloween became less important. Now my sister has children and is married to a minister. The pictures I saw on my networking site (facebook) showed my little nephew and niece dressed up for Harvest Night The Christian re-interpretation of Halloween for kids. Not a bad idea if I may say so.

Getting back to Korea. Here I was with a bunch of Korean kids attending an American based private kindergarten that was showing them an American holiday. Not an important holiday. Mostly an excuse for children to eat more candy than they should & adults to dress up in strange costumes and get drunk.

Then Thanksgiving came around. An important holiday in my mind's eye. A day when families from across the country and Earth gather back together all under one roof. It's a day to remember why and for what each family and person should be thankful for. Here in Korea... it was forgotten, for the most part in my kindergarten.

Sure, I made an extra attempt to inform my students of Thanksgiving Day. The school however, down played it. I worked, as most Koreans did on Thanksgiving Day. As I went through the day. I felt robbed of my National identity.

There is another day in Korea that is very similar to America's Thanksgiving Day. It's called Chusoek. On this day, all of Korea migrates to their families to celebrate the harvest. It's one of two very important holidays here in Korea. Chuseok & the Korean New Year which follows the lunar calender.

This is the background and the logistics of my Thanksgiving Day. At the end of the day I was drinking a bottle of whiskey at the western bar that never forgets my name.

This Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for life, liberty & family. I'd also like to thank all my friends who are in some ways an extended family away from home.


Alex said...

I wish I could have made your Thanksgiving a little brighter this year. *hugs*

sandi said...

I feel for you! I wish I could package a little of the leftovers up and ship it to you!

I still think some good came out of this experience. We are so good at taking for granted the true meaning of these holidays. Sometimes the lack of the holiday all together makes us remember the true meaning.

I am not saying you did, but I did, until I read your blog this morning. It seems all I was worried about was making sure I made all the fixins correctly and that all the kids were dressed and at the table at dinner time. I needed to read this and remember what an important day this thanksgiving really represents!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hey LUis, thank you for visiting my blog, hope u enjoyed some of it. I read your post today and I've decided to follow your blog, I find u very interesting,generous,big hearted, honest,and someone I would definitly like to be friends with. Thank you for reminding us all of the true meaning of this holiday season,and I hope people from different countries can understand that they can use this American holiday as a day of giving Thanks; we all have something to be thankful for regardless where we might live. :)
take care my new friend,
Julian :)

Alex said...

Evening, Luis...thinking of you and hope your weekend is looking brighter for you! :)

PS I introduced another Wendy Love today.


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Alex said...

Yo! :)

GeekyQuill said...


Thanks for the nudge. I've neglected the blog scene lately and last week my teenager and husband were off and there was serious competition for computer time.

I'm sorry your Thanksgiving wasn't that great. I think I take for granted that I still live in the U.S. I'm doubly lucky that my extended family is in the area. We didn't have to travel to see everybody.

Alex said...

Yo...dude...where you be? :)

Laura Jayne said...

It was just hubby and I for Thanksgiving, so I just did a pasta dish, but it had turkey.

CJ said...

Hi Luis,
I'd like to learn more about how and why you are teaching in Korea. I taught English in Brazil for 2 years, when I was in the Peace Corps. You can read about my experiences at: (See my post for 03/23/08.)
I always encourage people to live in another country if the opportunity arises. One sees your own country from a more global point of view. As Americans, we think we are so important, that the U.S. is the biggest and the best. it is kind of arrogant of us, because the planet is huge and there are so many beautiful people and cultures all over the world. A few years down the road, you will not remember the one Thanksgiving you didn't enjoy, but rather you will see your time in Korea as a fabulous experience to learn about another part of the world. And when you come back to the U.S., if you continue teaching, you will share your experiences with your students, giving them some understanding of another culture. I like what Sam Clemens said about travel: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."