Thanksgiving had always been a very “American” (as in, “white”) holiday to my family and didn’t have much relevance until fairly recently. As a first generation immigrant family, we never really celebrated the day beyond going out to eat at a nearby Chinese restaurant (because it was the only thing open) and looking for cheap deals the next day. When I went off to college, I watched my friends go back home while I stayed behind on campus and pretended to be unaffected by the obvious “otherness” that was my family. In fact, my Freshman year, I had my little sister visit me and we spent most of the time together in my empty dorm building eating microwaveable rice and ramen.
Truth be told, I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad back then and it was always awkward to spend “family time” during these cheesy holidays. I figured, well, Koreans don’t eat turkey anyway so what the hell’s the point?
Luckily, things have changed for the better since and Thanksgiving is now one of my favorite holidays. Aside from the problematic political and historial issues surrounding this holiday and my distaste for all things “patriotic” and “[white] American,” having a dedicated day to reflect and show appreciation while having obnoxious amounts of food (we’re all going to hell for gluttony, just so you know) is one of those things I can get used to (yes, I am often hypocritical). One, two, three years of cooking (aka ordering pre-made meals and heating them up), awkwardly talking about what we’re grateful for, and multiple years of suppressed desire for familial love and unity all somehow contributed to slowly healing our wounds and bringing us back together.
It makes me laugh to think about how much we’ve adapted to the “American” ways, how we eat turkey on Thanksgiving but still put kimchi on the table, and how much we’ve grown as a family and then some. It certainly isn’t very “Korean” to share our deepest emotions and thoughts within the family (my dad and I still get so awkward talking about feelings. which is why we never do), but I feel the need to have it documented somewhere: I am so, so, so very thankful for my family and am proud of how far we’ve come given our not-so-charming family history. I am so damn lucky to have such incredible parents and sister who are so strong and have endured tremendous hardships to get to where they are today, and who continue to support and trust me rock solid. I love you fambam.
Thanks Boston Market for making our Turkey Day celebration feast a success every year!!!