Adam: A Christmas Story

Nov 10

Adam: A Christmas Story
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Back home, I can just picture the soccer moms’ sweaters and mini-vans adorned with a festive wreath on the front. I see Wal-Mart counting down the days to get rid of the Halloween candy and costumes for the real holidays to begin. Traffic will be bad on the freeways and circling the parking lots at malls for long periods of time will become routine.

Sadly, in Korea, I don’t feel in the Christmas spirit. I don’t know how Bethany’s doing, but if I had to guess, she probably isn’t as much as we would be back home. “But Adam, it’s barely November, you have plenty of time to get into the Christmas spirit!” You see, that’s where you obviously don’t know me very well. I try to live my life to the best of my abilities, according to three simple things: God, Family, Christmas.

Christmas was always a “festive” thing in my house, but it was never a big “family” ordeal. Yes, we did things with my family, but when you’re from a divorced household, in turns into less tradition and  more so a “Hurry Up and Eat!” kind of life. You’re rushed from one family to another, from one grandparent’s house to the others. You say Hi, grab a piece of pie, and talk about nonsensical things that will pass the time until you have to leave for the next place.

We spent our last Christmas doing the same thing. Driving from Jefferson to Star City to Mountain View to Jefferson, all in two days time. The enjoyment was rushed, like the season seems to always be. There was never that Hollywood movie moment of sitting down over a cup of late night coffee with your dad, asking you about how your life is going. It was what it was.

But that’s the Christmas I know.

In Korea, they’re slowly coming around to the idea of Christmas. All of my students say their favorite holiday is Christmas. But the only Christmas they know are the ones they see in the movies (if they’ve really seen those) and the ones we tell them about. I tell them the Hollywood, Walt Disney magical one I’ve come to believe really does exist. If I told them how my Christmas holidays have been spent most of my life, they would think it sounds like their average Tuesday, being shuffled from babysitting “school” to babysitting “school.”

Bethany and I went to buy a Christmas tree last weekend, which was surprising to see that the store closest to us already had a display up. It even has a theme, “Christmas Time in Northern Europe.” We found a tree that’s fitting for our small apartment and some cheap ornaments to match. However, people in Northern Europe must not have electricity because they had no Christmas lights for sale. So, we have a beautiful, albeit dark, Christmas Tree.

The weather is getting cold in Busan, I’ve seen a few businesses with their Christmas trees and decorations starting to come out, but it still doesn’t feel like Christmas. I’ve told Bethany a few times, “What if we just went home? What if we decided to just not come back?” Then, I’m reminded of sacrifices and what they mean.

We’re telling ourselves that moving away from our friends and family is a sacrifice that is needed. If everything goes according to plan, which we’re praying it does (more on that in the next post), we’ll be able to come home debt free in 2 years and start our family. If we went home now, we go home with a little less debt, no jobs and no direction on what to do next.

So, we’re watching Christmas movies every night. We have over 75 TV Episodes of Christmas cheer to gawk our eyes at. I listen to Christmas music in all my free time at work. I’m doing these things to kind of trick myself into believing that the Christmas I want to believe in can and still exists, no matter where I am. I’m tricking myself to believe that when we do finally come home for good, in 2013, we’ll be able to truly start a Peterson family tradition.

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