My fiancé has two older sisters who are both married, each with two kids. Everyone in Korea tells me this is bad news for me because everyone is afraid of marrying the only son, especially one who is the youngest child. The reason they give me is that an only boy is doted on and loved the most, spoiling him and making him the apple of his mother’s eye.
However, I really think it depends on the person, or in this case, the family, because Junkyu’s family is really kind to me. His mom does indeed love him a lot, but he’s a very strong individual, and he likes to take the lead most of the time. He comes up with most of the ideas for family outings and things like that, and everyone usually falls into agreement with him.
I love how we always find ways to get together, because his family has become very important to me. Soon, I’ll be part of their family, and as an only child, I can’t have nieces and nephews without marrying someone who has siblings. The four kids all call me ‘Aunt Monica’ (in Korean, of course) and it makes me feel closer to everyone already.
Of course, that’s not to say we haven’t had our ups and downs. It’s stressful coming into a new culture and a new family, and there have been a lot of miscommunications and cultural misunderstandings. However, I’m lucky that every time something comes up, it gets settled before too long. During my future mother-in-law’s birthday party, I decided it was my turn to suggest a get together.
I invited our two nieces and two nephews to our house for a Christmas party. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love cuddling up by a tree with a good book and hot chocolate in winter. But I was pretty sure our nieces and nephews had never experienced Christmas like I did when I was a child. According to Junkyu, presents aren’t really exchanged, and for adults, Christmas Eve is a time to drink together. I decided it would be nice to show them what kinds of things I love to do on Christmas.
His sisters came over on Saturday to drop off the kids, but we told them to take the night for themselves, and encouraged them to use it for a date night with their husbands. I wanted to teach them how to hand-make pizza, but I couldn’t find pizza dough and decided it would be too difficult (read: stressful) to do everything from scratch.
We ordered chicken and pizza instead, and after we ate, it was time to open presents. We got his sisters presents, too, but they left without opening them and just told me, “Thanks,” which was kind of defeating. I get excited watching people open presents, but Junkyu told me Koreans don’t really have big reactions when receiving gifts, but he taught the kids how to open their presents ‘American style’, i.e. excitedly and with a lot of gratitude. They didn’t really do it, but it was nice that he tried to get them to make me feel better. I never thought about reacting to a gift before… I just thought everyone gets as excited as Ralphie does in A Christmas Story when opening (or even just talking about) his red rifle.
Thankfully, all of them seemed to really love their gifts, and it was nice being on the giving side, where I was able to get the joy of watching kids open and play with toys.
Once the presents were all unwrapped, it was time to bake cookies. My mom sent me sugar cookie mix, and I bought chocolate icing sticks and sprinkles. I let them all help put the ingredients together and I rolled out the dough and let them go at it with the cookie cutters. We baked about four batches of stars, men, bears, and hearts, and then we decorated with chocolate chips, icing, and sprinkles. It was a mess, but they had a lot of fun, and the end result was delicious.
After we all stuffed ourselves with cookies, we all reclined on the sofa to watch Frozen (in Korean, of course) and I had a lot of trouble not singing in English. When “Let it Go” came on, though, I didn’t really hold back, as all of them have heard the English version before.
It was late when the movie finished, so we had our last hurrah before sending them to bed. It was kind of exhausting taking care of four kids, but working at a kindergarten has kind of prepared me for it. However, I slipped into teacher mode a lot of the time, and my fiancé told me to stop stressing out and just play with them, but that was hard to do sometimes. Kids are such a handful, but in the end, I do think the party brought us closer.
In the morning, their parents all came to pick them up and we went out for Korean stew for breakfast. My future sisters-in-law gave me a present in repayment for the ones we got them, and they did a great job picking it out. I got a huge Yankee Candle called Wedding Day, along with a set of small candles and a beautiful holder. I really love lighting candles when I get home, so I’ll definitely put them all to good use.
Overall, our Christmas party was a success. We aren’t quite sure what to do for Christmas Day, but a weekend of rest, just the two of us, would be the best gift ever. My parents sent presents for both of us, and I always Skype them on Christmas morning to open them so they can watch. I can’t wait to see what this Christmas has in store for us!
Merry Christmas Everyone!