It's the time of the year again when friends in Seoul gathered and enjoyed each other's company before flying out of South Korea for our respective Christmas vacation.
Last year, our theme was a Christmas carol party, and this time, it's an 'ugly sweater' Christmas party where everyone must wear a sweater that he or she decorated with Christmas trinkets.
As last year, we again held our last get-together at Joy and Archie's home in Seongbuk-dong. And lucky for us, the temperature that day was above freezing, making it easy for everyone, especially the kids, to head northeast of Seoul.
Although we are far from home, we still make it a point to celebrate the essence of thanksgiving and the essence of Christmas by celebrating the blessings and friendships we enjoyed throughout the year.
And before we started the party, we gathered together to say a prayer for our kababayans back in the Philippines in the areas affected by the super typhoon, Yolanda/Haiyan. Two of our friends in Seoul actually have families and relatives in Leyte, and we made sure we did our share to help.
And just like any Filipino gathering, we thought of a menu to be enjoyed by everyone. This year, we switched from Filipino cuisine to western fare: turkey, prime ribeye roast, lasagna, japanese fried noodle salad, ham, bacon-wrapped sausage, jambalaya rice, queso de bola, fruit salad, tiramisu and a dessert that's very Pinoy, leche flan.
To add more fun, we had 'Santa Says' game for the kids and 'Dancing on a Christmas Wrapper' for their moms and dads. And to choose the winners for the 'ugliest sweater', everyone paraded their Christmas party attire. The winners, Rio and Archie, won for their creative sweaters, receiving prizes for their effort.
And for the exchanging of gifts, everyone picked a friend's name randomly and gave the gift after describing the recipient in front of everyone.
To end the night, we did our traditional singing. Over the years, we sang popular Christmas carols that are in English. This year, for a change, we sang one Filipino Christmas carol, 'Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit'. That once-a-year singing performance is now in Youtube.
By now, most of us have already flown out of Seoul and enjoying our respective Christmas vacations.
So, from all of us, we are greeting you a Merry Christmas and wishing that everyone's new year be peaceful, safe and happier!
And we're all praying: no more destructive typhoons, please.