Not a complaint. I wax lyrical about last year’s delightful Christmas. But there are some good pics of me with a chicken.
So, I got my white Christmas.
And it was just about the best Christmas a Christmas spent in Asia thousands of kilometers from home and hearth could possibly be.
On Christmas Eve morning I met up with the Island BFF (Sylvia) and we joined a bunch of other waygookins (foreigners) at an orphanage close to the city, where we played games, ate snacks, sang songs and gave presents to thirty or so little kids. It was good fun, even though the waygs almost outnumbered the children! It was great to see how far a little time and energy and love can go.
After the orphanage visit I said a temporary goodbye to Sylvia and some other friends and took a taxi to the airport to welcome the one and only Natali to the island! She was on holiday with a friend from Abu Dhabi and they had been in Japan for a few days before coming to Jeju for a week. I was terribly excited to see her.
After dropping their bags at my place, we headed to Yeondong/Jaewon to eat some kimbap (yum) and watch light snowflakes start to fall outside the window. Eee! We also hunted (in vain) for some better-fitting boots for Natali’s friend Maya. I say “in vain” because Maya is rather tall and has SA-size 8? feet. I wear size 5, sometimes 6, and I take the largest size the average store stocks. It’s unfortunate.
Walked back to gather up overnight bags and Christmas dinner ingredients, hailed a taxi and made our way to Sylvia’s abode at the FLHS. Sylvia’s apartment is about three times the size of mine, plus she has an amazingly large oven (which has had a starring role in previous braais at her place), and more importantly, is out in the country where it snows (and the snow sticks) a lot more than in the city. Eee!
Sylvia and I had decided that we wanted to go as all-out for Christmas dinner as possible, so I was carrying a large chicken, two kgs of peeled and par-boiled potatoes, and various assorted spices. Sylvia would be doing beef pot roast and our friends were bringing assorted side dishes. I also had matching aprons for Sylvia and I. Because I am my mother’s child.
As we arrived at Sylvia’s we were greeted by a delicious smell: glühwein! (For those Americans and other people who might not know, that’s just the German name for mulled wine. There’s nothing like it on a cold winter’s day. Or night.) We sipped our glühwein and discussed plans for the dinner. And then, not more than ten minutes after we’d arrived, it started full-on snowing. Eee!
At length we set to cooking. Now I had never roasted a chicken before, but fortunately Natali had, so she was able to offer encouragement and advice as I worked.
I also discovered we had too many potatoes… Wait, who am I kidding? There’s no such thing as too many potatoes!
I opened one of the packages my mom had sent with Natali: a tiny beaded wire Christmas tree which I immediately set as the centrepiece on our table, and my Christmas earrings. (My family’s a little strange, ok.) I made gravy with the juices leftover from Sylvia’s beef pot roast – also the first time I’d made gravy!
At length our friends started arriving, bringing with them such deliciousness as organic brown rice, steamed veggies, a salad, and crackers with a delicious cream cheese dip and salami for a starter, to which Maya added some authentic Arabian dates.
There was a minor delay caused by the chicken not cooking as quickly as anticipated (it was a large chicken, covered by very many potatoes), but when you’re drinking wine with friends while it snows on Christmas Eve, a minor delay matters not.
The soundtrack was provided by a playlist I’d created on YouTube. Because you can do that in the country with the fastest internet in the world.
Between dinner and desert (toffee pudding, mm) we swapped gifts in a Secret Santa. Scarves were a common gift item. One person, an American, got a small hot water bottle…and had no idea what it was. We had to explain it to her and give her a tutorial on how to use it. True story :P
Natali and I went out to play in the snow after everyone had left. It was blustery and freezing and dark but we still managed to make a pretty good snowman!
It was a perfect Christmas Eve. The food was delicious, the company was excellent, the wine was good, and it was snowing.
On Christmas Day we woke up late, opened presents that Father Christmas had left under the tree (:O) and dined on flapjacks (crumpets) made from the mix I’d asked my mom to send with Natali. Is there anything better?!
We did some more snowman building, although multiple attempts to build an upside-down one failed, we did manage to make this:
A long walk around the snowy village followed, in which I got very excited at all the SNOW on EVERYTHING.
After an early dinner of leftovers, it was time to head back to the city.
It was a Christmas I will not soon forget. Thank you everyone who made it so special!
Thanks to Natali and Maya for the use of their photos!