Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Car Hunting

copyright Joe Owens

copyright Joe Owens

My dad loved to show people around his trophy room, so when my college roommate came over for Thanksgiving, of course Dad gave him the tour.

“You’ve done a lot of hunting!” Kiefer said. I rolled my eyes. Don’t encourage him.

“Yep, I sure have,” my dad said, making a sweeping gesture to encompass all the license plates on the walls. “This here was from my first one. It was a ’68 Chevy Chevelle. I got it going down Route 46, not far from here. Single shot—bam!—right to the engine block. Damaged the body a bit but stopped it dead.”

“So you mostly go for sedans then?”

I tried giving Kiefer a warning look. My dad was going to talk for hours at this rate.

“I have tried all kinds.” Dad was beaming now. “When Bobby was little, we’d go out for hatchbacks. We tagged two in one day over in Breathitt County. We could only bring the fenders home, although of course Bobby liked to keep the spark plugs as souvenirs.” I blushed.

“Do you think I could give it a try?” Kiefer asked. My dad’s face lit up.

“Why sure! We’ll go grab you and Bobby some licenses and head out tomorrow. You haven’t tried car hunting until you’ve done it on Black Friday. You can use my SUV rifle.”

“Aren’t you a member of Greenpeace?” I whispered to Kiefer.

“This isn’t nature,” he said. “This is cars!” He and my dad high-fived and I knew that I’d lost him.


5 Minutes = 5 Years of Therapy

“You want to hear a story? Let me tell you about the real Jennifer. I won’t tell you about the time in kindergarten when she proposed to the mailman, or that time in high school when she somehow caught her shirt on fire on her first date. No, this story comes from the year 1994, when our little angel was only 8. She had a part in the Thanksgiving play at school. As a Pilgrim? As an Indian? Nope, as a turkey! Yeah, that’s right, we always knew she was a turkey and now she had the costume to prove it.

“Seriously though, she volunteered for the role because she only had two words to say: ‘I’m delicious!’ And even that scared her to death. I used to tease her when she was practicing in front of the mirror. ‘I’m delicious! I’m delicious!’ I even put a can of cranberry sauce on her bedside table one night.

turkey costume

“Anyway, the big day came and she was so nervous, she ate twice as much as normal for breakfast. Me, I can’t eat a bite when I’m nervous, but Jennifer gets a truck driver’s appetite when she’s on edge. I guess she’s got some big, beefy butterflies in her stomach, waiting to chow down. Well, we go and sit in the audience and yawn our way through the Mayflower and Squanto and everything until the cornucopia bursts open and all the food piles out. They get through the vegetables and then turkey-Jennifer steps forward, a big Butterball sticker on her chest. ‘I’m delicious!’ she says, and in the split-second silence that follows, a huge fart echoes through the auditorium.

“It wasn’t even her; it was the dopey kid dressed up like a yam. But no one knew that then and everyone started laughing. Our little Butterball turned so red you’d think her costume was a lobster and then, blam! Out came all that breakfast, all over the pumpkin pie twins. Little Jenny tried to run off stage, but tripped on the edge of her costume and down she went. Knocked out cold. She spent a week in the hospital but it all turned out okay and in the meantime, Farty McYam confessed to everything. Still, we couldn’t even mention turkey for a year without her turning a little green at the gills.

“So there you go, something you didn’t know about the bride. Now let’s all raise our glasses to Rob and Jennifer. May they ever be happy and may she never dress up like a turkey again!”

The father of the bride sat down next to his wife, breathless and flushed. “You promised you weren’t going to tell the turkey story,” she said.

“You think I went too far?”

“Well, she forgave you for the graduation party, so I guess she’ll forgive you for this too.”

“Ah, I didn’t mean anything bad by it. Should I go talk to her?”

His wife looked over to where their daughter’s eyes were lancing fiery death down on her father. “I’d give her some time, dear. Maybe a few years.”


Happy Thanksgiving! Who is thankful for you?

No, Americans, you didn’t read that wrong. Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. Of course, in Korea we don’t get the day off and since they don’t eat turkey here, we have to make up our own traditions. In our case, we went out for pizza and watched a creepy movie.

Canadian thanksgiving

I told my students about Thanksgiving today and asked them what they were thankful for. This is usually what we do on Thanksgiving: take a moment to reflect on the things that we are thankful for in our lives. This is a good practice, of course, and keeps us from taking blessings for granted. However, I realized that it is a passive, recipient-based question, so I decided to turn it around.

Who is thankful for you?

The point of thinking about the things we are thankful for is to count up the blessings we already have. However, the question “Who is thankful for you?” is much more active and has implications for the future as well. In other words, who can we make thankful for us? On a day like Thanksgiving, who can we inspire gratitude in by making their lives better, even in a small way? I don’t need to give you examples: we all know of lots of ways, big and small, to help people around us have a better day or a better life.

Go the extra mile. Try it. Just do it, right?

That is my goal for myself at least: to make others around me thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Canadian thanksgiving 2

P.S. Because I have a big Chinese test coming up next Sunday, I won’t be posting anything this week except the Wednesday Friday Fictioneers story. (现在我需要学习很多。) I’ll be back in full strength next week though.


Being Home for Chuseok

I remember our first year in Korea, long ago in 2002. We came in late August and a few weeks later, we found out that we had a few days off, for a holiday called Chuseok. I remember that a Korean woman at church was arranging a trip to an amusement park for a lot of the foreigners because, she said, “it must be so hard to be away from your family on Chuseok.”

A traditional Chuseok scene

A traditional Chuseok scene. The message says: “Wishing you a Chuseok as bountiful as the full moon.”

Hard to be away from my family on Chuseok? Not particularly, since I had just found out about the holiday a few days before.

But for Koreans, Chuseok is a big deal. It is one of the two biggest holidays of the year, along with the Chinese Lunar New Year. It falls on August 15 (according to the lunar calendar) which means that it always coincides with the full moon.

There are several traditions at Chuseok. The main activity, like Thanksgiving, is to get together with family and eat a lot and hang out. For this reason, men and children love it, and women usually dread it. They see it as a time of pretty much non-stop cooking, which it is for them.

People dress up in hanbok (traditional Korean clothes: see the above picture), sometimes play traditional games, and also give gifts. Gifts are usually given between families, however, or to co-workers, and are usually gift sets of food or other things.

The other traditions are cleaning the graves of ancestors, along with memorial rites. As well, the whole family gets together to make songpyeon, which are steamed rice cakes with sugar and sesame seeds inside. They are steamed with pine needles, which gives them a bit of a different taste (although not much).

Songpyeon made by hand are not this neat usually.

Songpyeon made by hand are not this neat, usually.

For me, as a foreigner, the main thing I notice about Chuseok (besides the days off work) is the traffic. It is getting better these days with better highways, but still Chuseok traffic is usually a nightmare. I took several buses over to the central part of Korea yesterday and got to the bus terminal several hours early to make sure I could get a ticket.

The thing about the traffic is that because of the geography and population distribution, the traffic is usually only horrendous in one direction. At the beginning of the holiday, everyone is trying to leave Seoul and go south, so if you go north, it’s not that bad. At the end, everyone is trying to get back up north to Seoul, so it’s reversed. Luckily, we live in the south, so we can usually avoid the worst of it (I saw on the news that two nights ago in Seoul, there were hundreds of people waiting for buses and the buses were delayed up to 3-4 hours).

In any case, Chuseok for us is just a time off work, to relax, and travel, perhaps. I hope you have a happy Chuseok today as well.

chuseok3


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