Merry Christmas! ...but only if you're a couple. Screw you, if you're solo (or single).
"... and here I thought being single in Toronto was bad," I said to S, as we walked through the sea of tinsel and bows that flooded the newly built shopping mall by her house. "But this is just taking it to a whole new level. We've been here since September and there's been not one but two, TWO holidays dedicated to couples!"
S stifled a laugh. She's become used to this, I think. I've started to just blurt things out as I see and observe. Nothing is filtered anymore. It can't be helped. This country is just... random.
"I mean, look at this! Who gives out cards with big, red hearts on them, for Christmas??" I asked, while picking up and analyzing an over-sized package that looked more fitting for a valentine's special.
"What happened to 'Christmas is for families'... what about baby Jesus?" I didn't understand why I was becoming so irritated. Then, words I didn't realize I'd said out loud, flew past my lips.
"Thank you baby Jesus for being born, so that I can ____ a ______!!"
As I said this, I felt a sharp pain on my shoulder. S was hitting me. Repeatedly.
"Why are you doing that?" I asked, even more annoyed now.
"It was either roll on the floor, laughing at what you just said, or hit you."
Fair enough, I suppose.
But truly, for the first time in years, I find myself willing the holiday season to be over and done with. The concept's all wrong here. Sure there's twinkly lights galore, and Christmas songs blasting from almost every corner in the city... but something's off.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I asked some of my coworkers what their plans were for the holidays. "Will you be making dinner?" I asked Mrs. P, over lunch in the cafeteria.
She nonchalantly bobbed her head and continued to munch on her kimchi... she was thinking.
"Christmas is a big deal for you," she said... it was more a statement than a question. "But in Korea, Christmas is for lovers."
What? I couldn't have heard that correctly.
"Don't you mean Valentine's day?" I asked, still not sure we were on the same page.
"That one also, plus Pepero day... White day too," she said.
So she was essentially telling me that even though this country had not one, but THREE days dedicated to couples and coupledome... they were now also designating Christmas as a "holiday for lovers."
... I had no words.
I was flabbergasted, as I dug into my rice and breaded fish.
"S, you're solo. Aren't you going to be lonely for Christmas?" said a new voice.
I looked up to see one of the other teachers had decided to join the conversation. Mrs. P had quickly managed to translate what we were talking about, and now it seemed as though everyone at the table was intrigued.
"Why would I be lonely?" I asked. "I mean, it's my first Christmas away from my family, but I'm not lonely. I have my friends who are like family to me over here."
I was fuming at this point. What was wrong with them? Had they not watched Christmas movies or specials on TV? My brain went through the mental archives to try and find one example of a movie that designated Christmas as a "lovers holiday". Not one. I mean, of course there's the sentimental ones that deal with love as part of the holidays... but definitely none that make it centre focus.
"But don't you want a namja-chingu?" asked Mrs. S. That was the Korean equivalent of 'boyfriend'.
What I wanted to say was, "No, I'm actually in the running to become the Slut from Seoul, you know?"
But what came out was, "Actually, yes... but definitely not from Korea. The men here are too... needy. I could never walk out in a matching couple's outfit and be serious. Sorry!"
This drew a mixed reaction from the table, which consisted of mostly older Korean teachers.
I had to have some sense of honesty here. Otherwise they would spend all day debating the fact that baby Jesus WAS in fact born so that I could ____ a _____!
Not in my mind.
Anyway, that being said, MERRY CHRISTMAS, dear readers! I love you all very much and hope you have a safe and fabulous week ahead. Sending warm wishes and beautiful thoughts to you and yours!