End of Year Post

Christmas

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I have to admit that the holiday season really depressed me this year.Starting at Thanksgiving, I think that it was knowing that I wouldn’t be home (Chicago) for Christmas this year.However, the depression peaked around Thanksgiving and then diminished through December.This corresponded with the ramping up of my Christmas spirit.

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For those of you who don’t know, I am crazy about Christmas.I play Christmas music from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.I decorate (as best I can).I take special interest in gifts, holiday cooking, and holiday parties.Most of all this year, I wanted to provide all this for

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my son.

I don’t think I did a great job of it, but I tried.Here is what we did for Christmas this year.

Holiday movies

Much to the chagrin of my wife, I spent quite a bit of time introducing my son to Christmas cartoons.We watched Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, a couple of Charlie Brown Christmas specials (and he watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving over and over and over again).I tried to get him to watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and the Christmas Story, but he wasn’t up for either of those.

Food

We did a few food projects this season, some he really did help with and others he didn’t (some I didn’t even really do).We did cookies a couple times.He always loves helping with this.He gets covered in flour, so we add a little extra to compensate.

I made egg nog for the first time this year to great success.It was a cooked egg nog (I don’t mind raw, but I’d hate to poison anyone else).For those of you in the States, you take this for granted during the holidays, but egg nog is certainly not available here in Seoul.I made one of the easier recipes that I saw.It consisted of a cooking portion similar to making custard and a lot of blending.It was a really simple and tasty recipe.It probably would have been better if I had nutmeg (really missed that) and bourbon (or other liquor).I could have gotten the latter, but I was rather sick during Christmas and tried not to add too much alcohol to my diet J

Lastly, I didn’t feel like cooking this year, because of all the running around I would have to do to gather ingredients, so we decided to hit one of the Christmas dinners around town.We decided to go to Suji’s for Christmas dinner.I’ve heard Suji’s recommended numerous times over the last couple years and this seemed to be a good opportunity to check them out.It was my first time at Suji’s and I liked it for the most part.We were warmly greeted at the door; they had really good service, which is unheard of in Korea; and the atmosphere was nice.

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Suji’s had a Christmas dinner buffet for W55,000, though they only charged us W50,000.Let me first say that the food they served was very good.They had a great medium-rare roast beef with horseradish sauce and juicy turkey with cranberry sauce.They had passable mashed potatoes with really good turkey gravy and good beef gravy.They had green beans, which is amazing.I love and miss green beans and I was so happy to have them here.On the bad side, they mixed them with corn (why not separate the two?).The “brownie” for dessert was really good; however, it was certainly not a traditional brownie as the hostess earnestly professed.Brownies are at least slightly cake-y, depending on the recipe that use.This was more like many of the “death by chocolate” desserts that I’ve had at restaurants over the years.It was like a very thick mousse.

Now for the negatives…The “stuffing” was really just cubed French bread that may have been cooked in the turkey or just sautéed with the turkey gravy.Moon hated it, not because it tasted bad, but because it was so far from the traditional stuffing that she was expecting.I thought that it tasted great, but I have to admit that it was half-assed.Moon also hated the mashed potatoes and, while I thought they were ok, I agreed that they really lacked cream and could have used more butter (now we’re being picky).The spread was lacking to say the least.For W50,000 (think $50+ depending on exchange rate) you’d think that they would have some more, at least the basics.How can you have the above items an NO bread?They offered to sell us some, though.For 50,000 you’d better give me some %$#@ bread!The buffet was tiny.How about some more choices?They only had 6 food items on the buffet (not including sauces) and 1 of them I can’t even remember what it was because it was gone and never refilled by the time I took a picture.That is the biggest problem that I had with the buffet, it ran out fast and they never refilled.I understand that we were there late, we had the 8:30PM sitting, but THEY scheduled it and they should have assured that they buffet remained stocked.The great service that I referred to above dried up about the time the food did.It seemed that they were afraid to engage at that point.

I could forgive them breadth, if they only had depth.The food that they had was really good, but I can’t forgive them for running out.

Next year (if we don’t go to the States) I’ll spend about the same amount (maybe a little more) and do the dinner right.Christmas is no time to take the lazy way out.I’ll cook up a storm and have leftovers for a week.

Christmas Events

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Thanks to video conferencing, we were able to connect with family in the States for our many family Christmas parties.We joined the Craig Christmas for about an hour, with people cueing to say hi and Merry Christmas; my family joined us on Christmas morning to watch us open presents and to open the presents that we had sent them; we joined them on their Christmas morning to watch the same; and we joined the Dickinson Christmas (Mom’s side) for a short time as they miraculously regained power just in time to hook up.While nothing replaces being there, these were great substitutes.

Back to Christmas morning.Sammy woke up to Christmas surprise.Santa had not only loaded the living room with presents under the tree and in Sammy’s stocking, but he also rearranged the furniture and boxed up most of Sammy’s old toys and put them in storage (Santa’s great in that way).A well-rested dad, who didn’t have to do any of this work, brewed a big pot of coffee and cooked a big breakfast casserole (not his greatest) to get him through the morning.

Sammy particularly loved a car set that he got (track with battery-powered cars) and a doctor set that he used to give examinations to everyone, including his new Curious George doll.Moon and I really enjoyed this Christmas, as it was the first in which Sammy could really enjoy it himself.While the concept of Christmas and even that of Santa haven’t really gotten through, he is old enough now to participate fully.I really look forward to next year when he may be better able to learn a Christmas song or two.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, sleeping, and playing.Truly a wonderful Christmas.

Thanks

Thanks to everyone for making this a great holiday season (not that it’s totally over yet).Thanks to my family in the states, both immediate and extended.Working with us to set up the video feed and working around our schedules really helped to make this Christmas better.Of course, this probably means the most to me, but I know that both Moon and Sammy enjoyed it as well.Thanks to Moon’s family for taking on that family role here in Korea.And, of course, thanks to Moon for putting up with my moodiness and insane holiday requests throughout the season.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you out there from the Craigs in Korea!

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