Grace and I flew out to NYC on a Friday night redeye. My dad picked us up at JFK in the morning. Linda and Danny were down in Florida with their family and were gracious enough to allow us to stay at their beautiful place on Central Park West (we’re still here!). We caught up on some sleep in the morning and headed over to Jen’s, where my parents are staying. We had lunch and went out to do some last minute shopping. Bobby met up with us briefly in Midtown. We went back to Jen’s for dinner. Cousins Lou and Millie were in the city and also came over. Jen and mom cooked a multi-course extravaganza, which included an incredible beef tenderloin. We had a great time catching up and reminiscing.
On Christmas day, we went back over to Jen’s to open presents with our families. Our second cousin, Jayoung, who is studying in NYC, also came over. Jen and mom did some cooking before we all headed over to Clarence’s house in Tenafly, NJ. It was our first time visiting their ginormous new home. Their townhome in Fort Lee would have been busting at the seams with all of the different clans that gathered for their Christmas feast. All of Eemoh’s family, Kwons (and cousins), Chois, Lees were there as well as their respective little ones.
The Doctors Kwon (always so generous) brought lobsters and crabs for all and the Lees brought over the Peking Duck. Mom made several appetizers, which were also a big hit. We were stuffed.
The first event of the evening was an arm wrestling rematch between Millie and Kenny, who is now unbelievably a senior at Georgetown. Kenny was surprisingly defeated by Millie a couple of years ago. 2005 was also not his year, though it seemed close. The pictures are priceless.
Instead of Secret Santa, we did a white elephant gift exchange, which proved to be quite hilarious. It took a while for some to realize the implications of the rules. Soon, the Rhees were accused of collusion. Though it seemed to make no sense when my father stole a gift from my mother, it all worked out when I stole it back from the Lees who stole it from him – it was locked in our family. Similarly, my sister scored the gift my mom wanted (which she actually brought) and in return, she scored the Kiehls gift box that Jen wanted. Others soon caught on, but it was too late. Proving that you can’t judge a gift by its cover, Lou’s gift, which was nicely wrapped in a Kroger’s grocery bag, turned out to be the last item picked and also the one “guy gift” (headphones) that we all would have chosen over our bath oils and ground coffee. A very memorable gift exchange indeed.
The fun did not end there. The cousins had planned a big Yut tournament, which is sort of like a Korean version of Sorry. Though we lost some key players due to the hour, we were still able to play amongst the clans. Jayoung played for us, which turned out great because she not only threw with style, but also had some clutch tosses. Grandmother Kwon also got in the action and proved to be a solid player. In close matches, the Rhees and Eemoh’s family advanced to the finals. We had a nail-biter of a match. It looked like they were a cinch to win with double players just a throw a way from finishing the game. But Jayoung reached down deep and threw some amazing Yut sticks that allowed us to catch two of their pieces, forcing them to start them over. We then also made it all the way around the board, and needed just one throw to win – anything but a back do (one backwards). Amazingly, that was exactly what dad threw. Drama. Luckily, mom came thru on the next throw and we won.
The big prize is neither money nor even bragging rights. Instead, all of the other team members had to do a big bow to the Rhees. It was quite rewarding.