By Maggie Velasquez-Choi
Gifts –

Tomorrow I’m going to visit an ex-neighbor friend who moved into a new apartment. I plan to take her a giant package of toilet paper as a housewarming present. The norm, here in Korea, is to give something practical. The typical things given for a housewarming are industrial-size packages of: toilet paper, facial tissue or laundry detergent.

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Gift-giving, in general, follows the “practical” mindset. I’m still finding new underwear and socks in their original packaging in my storage boxes from the many gifts that Korean family, friends and students have given me over the years. I was dumbfounded the first time that my English class (college-age students) presented me with a gift on the last day of class and told me to open it. Inside was a matching lacy bra and panty set. They clapped as I stuttered my thanks.

At church when a person or couples celebrates a special occasion the church gives them a little gift. I received one of these gifts at least once. Upon opening it I found toothpaste, soap bars, toothbrushes and hand towels. Actually, those kinds of gifts are the best types for me since I’m picky about clothing (I don’t dress glamorously but I like to choose my own clothes), and I don’t wear jewelry.


About Christmas gifting: When I first arrived here back in 1992 Christmas time was a holiday to be celebrated by going to church Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by the Christians and by drinking with friends by the non-Christians. It’s not a family day with traditional activities for most people. Even most Christians go to church and then go out with their friends afterwards. Gift giving was not a big deal back in the early nineties but nowadays, each Christmas the local E-mart (competitor to Wal-Mart, who also bought out Wal-Mart’s stock when Wal-Mart failed here) stocks more and more toys for children. Still, Christmas gift-giving is largely for children and not so much for adults.

Well, I’m cutting it short today (gasp). Everybody in my family is in the process of getting over summer colds and flus. Have a good week.



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