After several busy days, the holiday comes with an appreciated respite. The morning cannon salute sounds from a separate world when you can stay in bed and continue to dream. Being far away gives a weightier enjoyment to things like late mornings and casual meals or a savored cup of coffee seeping its warmth through calfskin gloves and into your fingers. Lunch with friends shared from a large Korean bowl of fried rice, chicken, vegetables, and spices welcomes conversations punctuated with punchlines and loud laughter. Thoughts of home and the things to be thankful for appropriately arrive amid the banter and palate-cleansing swills of beer.
A long ride on the metro aided by headphones and a sentimental song brings me to church for a shared celebration and a traditional dinner. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and casseroles adorn a plate that now smells like the meals I knew growing up. Congregants from different walks of life come together here in the communion of a shared faith. Our common hope in the gospel instills amity and concord in each welcome exchanged with old and new friends alike. Any differences dissipate in such a place where age, status, or country occupy their proper position among the trappings of this world. This bond of faith and truth rightly draws thoughts of thanksgiving to the divine source of gratitude and grace.
As night falls this Thanksgiving Day, snowflakes tumble to the ground in Korea. It’s not the first snowfall this season, but it’s the first time it sticks. The snow builds, paving the streets in glistening white while the tree branches have their slimmed panoply of leaves replenished with an early adornment of winter. Heading back to end the day, the first steps through the freshly lain snow crunch under the soles of my shoes as I bring my coat collar up a little higher around my neck and fasten another button. It’s the kind of night for gentle music, well drinks, and pleasant memories to keep warm.