My host mom bought me a Christmas tree! It's fake and maybe a foot and a half tall and sits on the piano in the main room of our apartment, alongside several of my host mom's finest origami/art class creations (in the picture, you can just see the nest with cunnin' chicks she made last week. The chicks have real hard boiled eggs inside of them). Kiyeong is very, very proud of the tree and likes to take it down and show it to me often, moving the beautiful Merry Christmas sign to different locations. The radio my host mom listens to in the mornings (they have a "learn English" segment every day at 7:45...she's learned "busy as a bee," "I will miss you so much," and "gee, it's chilly" in the past 3 days. Sadly, she's never used any of the phrases on me; her English is still limited to one word at a time) has started playing Christmas carols, there are Christmas lights on some of the trees near our apartment, and many of the shops and convenience stores in Gongju have Christmas decorations and displays. Even my school is covered in Christmassy things--the third graders made and decorated little Christmas trees, the sixth graders made a giant mural of Santa Claus and are making Christmas cards, and the fifth graders made little fake presents. Everywhere I walk in school, I see new displays of student Christmas-themed artwork. At one point I asked my coteacher if many of the students celebrate Christmas. She told me not really, Christmas is a holiday for boyfriends and girlfriends so most of the students ignore it (I seriously doubt this, since the whole school went absolutely wild for Pepero day, also a holiday for boyfriends and girlfriends). I asked her, "then why does the school make so many Christmas decorations?" and she responded, "oh no no, we do not make the Christmas decorations!" We were standing in front of the giant mural of Santa at the time, so I wasn't quite sure what to make of this statement.
Today was a perfect relaxing day off: I had the daytime all to myself, and then when out to dinner with my host mom and brothers. When I went to photograph the Christmas tree, the boys decided that we had to have a photo shoot. The bottom picture (with the toothbrush) was actually the first one, after which the boys decided they needed to be wearing their winter hats and Kiyeong needed to change into his pajamas. My host mom had to be coaxed into submitting to a picture...and she made the exact same face and lean-over-slightly-while-clutching-boys pose she makes in every single picture of her in the house (you can see one if you look at my posts from August, I believe).