Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Christmas Delights

One cannot think of Christmas without recognizing that it is a time of "Light".  Even in Seoul, where Christmas is primary considered a "western" tradition, the city puts on a dazzling display of lights.  I am so grateful for the many "delights" Bob and I enjoyed the Christmas of 2015!

It is no mere coincidence that light is the predominate element in our Christmas decor.  No other symbol better illuminates the unfathomable gift we have in the birth and life of Jesus Christ; the light of the world!  I was so excited to be able to add a few reminders of His light to our apartment this Christmas.  This was the first Christmas Bob and I have spent in Seoul, and for decorations we had only the few purchases made since coming. In Germany, we had purchased a Christmas pyramid or "Weihnachtspyramide".  It resembles a carousel, in the shape of a Christmas tree, and is propelled by the rising heat of burning candles.  Each tier of the pyramid features nativity scenes and the circular motion reminds me that I - like the shepherds and wise-men of old - must seek the Savior with diligence and haste.  We will find Him where the light beckons us to follow.

A ficus tree became the light-infused evergreen from which a few ornaments were hung, and the piano created the platform desired for our Peruvian nativity.  The Holy Family, purchased from a flea market in Seoul, adorns our apartment year-round, reminding us to absorb and reflect the light of Christ in all we think and do.

What a delight it was to have Michael and Kristin arrive in Seoul on December 18!  For 10 days we would initiate Kristin to the very foreign sights, sounds, food, culture, and lifestyle of her new parents. What a special Christmas gift for the four of us!  (The rest of our children celebrated the holiday with their in-laws this year.)

Saturday, the day after their arrival, we took Mike and Kristin on the tourist circuit around our neighborhood.  But we started out with an attraction Bob and I had not yet visited - The Bank of Korea Money Museum.  This historic architectural landmark in central Seoul, a "western style" granite building, was constructed in 1912 during the Japanese occupation.  It's opulence inside and out, typifies wealth and served well as the former central office of The Bank of Korea.  The three stories featured interesting exhibits about money from around the world and provided an opportunity to "stamp" our own "coins' on metal bookmarks.

The rest of the tourist circuit is familiar:  Deoksu Palace; Museum of Art; lunch (crushing sesame seeds for a dipping sauce for Tonkatsu - Japanese pork cutlet); Gwanghwamun Square; Insadong (to experience traditional games, Emporer's "Dragon Beard" candy, and Korean music); one of Seoul's many Cafe's (for much needed hot chocolate!); and Seoul Tower (which King Kong apparently attempted climbing).

Yeah, we overdid it on the first day!  Michael and Kristin crawled into bed that night feeling cold, exhausted, and sick!  Allergies and air quality affected their heads and sinuses, causing them to slow down for the next couple of days.  However, they did manage to make it to two sacrament meetings with us on Sunday, where we were treated to some beautiful Christmas programs.  We also stopped at Bonguensa Buddhist Temple on our way back home.  Buddha represents the way to enlightenment for many here in Korea.

We took it easy on Monday and Tuesday, and pumped Michael and Kristin full of medicine to speed their recovery.  I took Kristin to Namdaemun market to look for souvenirs, and all of us went to a 4D showing of Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  Bob and I had been waiting for the perfect movie to arrive in 4D so that we could experience this uniquely Korean attraction.  Yes, it's like those Disneyland movies that scared Chelsea to death as a child. Featuring not only 3D effects, but you also get to feel critters running around your feet, bullets whizzing past your ears, wind blowing through you hair, water splashing in your face, annoying pokes in your back, and roller-coaster-like seat movements.  Fun times!  Check another another distinctive Korean experience off the must-do list.

The Force must have awakened something in Michael, because by Wednesday, he was ready to get back on the streets and tackle some additional Korean delights. (See next post.)


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