Growing up, I felt acute loneliness during the holidays as our nuclear family of four was on our own in the States, with all of our relatives back in the mothaland. We had second cousins but they were all first cousins with each other so I often felt like we were the outsiders when they were kind enough to include us in their family gatherings. The holidays also meant my parents had to work extra long hours at whichever small business they were running at the time. I remember my mama literally collapsing when she came home from the store. Though my exhausted parents managed to put up a tree each year and we attended Christmas and New Year’s church services, a melancholy would wash over me as it felt like I was missing out on something magical that other families, like those on tv, as well as those I went to school with, would be partaking in from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
The beauty of having my own little family now is that we can create our own magic and wonder during the holiday season. I want my boys to be in awe of this time, to associate it with lots of time doting on each other and truly being merry. So many traditions to choose from! Or we can create our own (like lobsters for Christmas perhaps and doing an Advent study together each night).
While still deliberating on what type of tree to bring home, Kevin and I decided late last night that we were going to order our very first personalized family Christmas stockings. We figured it would take about 15 minutes before we went to bed, but this is how it went down:
K: Okay, Jihee-yah. Choose yours. (handing me the laptop)
J: This should be fast, uh, cuz I’m trying to watch Parenthood. Lotta them are already sold out so fewer choices to go over. Since I’m the only girl, I should get the ballerina or doll stocking. I did do gymnastics but no ballet so I’mma go with doll. Yes, I like that. I am the DOLL among you mens.”
K: Okay. You gotta choose light-skinned or dark-skinned doll, Jihee-yah.
J: Come on now. Do you even have to ask? Do you KNOW me?
K: Yes, poseur, but the dark-skinned doll is DARK. Sorry to say but you look more like the light-skinned.
J: Yes, Connecticut, I see what you mean, but the SPIRIT is dark-skinned so put the dark one in our cart. No further discussion needed.
K: Wait, you sure you wanna go with Doll because now I see that there is an Angel and you always going on about your chunsah birthday.” (My birthday is 10.04 and if you say 1004 in Korean, it is the same word for angel – “chunsah”.)
J: This is true – and there is a light-skin, dark-skin option for Angel, too. But what if I choose Angel and then that choice makes me die early and y’all be crying saying she should’ve gone Doll, not Angel that one Christmas?
(Kevin does not dignify with a response.)
K: I’m thinking reindeer stocking for Micah.
J: But the reindeer is a baby so let’s go reindeer for Ellis.
K: I was thinking snowman for Ellis because he fat. Tri-rolls like Ellis. They got same body – look!
J: True again! And the reindeer look real sweet like Micah and resembling him in the eyes. You sure you don’t wanna go with Train for Micah though? He loves choo-choo!
K: But what’s train got to do with Christmas for real though?
J: True true true. You on a roll!
K: I’m choosing the Santa for myself because I am the head of the family.
J: Right, obvious choice. What color should our names be on the stockings? You know Koreans say writing your name in red is imminent death.
K: Screw that. We’re going with red because the green looks stupid.
J: Should my stocking say Mommy, Mama or Umma? Micah or MLK? Ellis or E.Z.?
More deliberating and yawning. WA-A-A-Y MORE THAN 15 MINUTES LATER:
J: Cool, so when are they arriving?
J: Why?! Noooo! Did they get sold out while we were deliberating?
K: I read the reviews. All recent customers said poor quality. They suck.
So back to the drawing board tonight. Gotta get some traditions going ASAP. Already December 5th!