Happy Holidays! ❤ It’s Christmas in South Korea, and Santa Claus sprinkled some of his special magic over my little household last night. It was a glorious day of typical winter chilliness (6 degrees Celsius), which kept me largely inside, catching up on holiday calls and media, and organizing my kitchen. At this writing, Santa has just about finished his yearly westward journey, and headed back to the North Pole for his merited hot toddy. Back in Korea, I’m alone this year due to a confluence of events and circumstances, and I know there are many around the world in my shoes.
Being an expat, single, and working mainly from home during this pandemic has been challenging and lonely at times. The recent saddest news has been to lose my sweet grandmothers only weeks apart this year, and not be able to go home and connect with my family, nor know when exactly I will be able to.
Many strategies I use to feel better are incredibly helpful, which include trying to reduce the hype around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and remembering that they are really just ordinary days, full of promise apart from all the unrealistic expectations they evoke. Just the same, I do decorate for the holidays and it gives me a lot of joy, especially when I haul out all of Dad’s ornaments that I’ve amassed while abroad. When I chatted with him Tuesday, he reminded me that this is his 40th year of making them. That conversation brought up great memories of the first couple of years, when family were allowed to “assist” before he took over the operation in his workshop, to much-deserved acclaim.
Since the pandemic started, I’ve really leaned into podcasts so much more. There is such a variety to listen to, and my hands and eyes are kept free to multi-task while I listen. About a year ago, I wrote about three favorites that I listen to while crafting. I still listen to those podcasts, and my list has grown since then. I like podcasts that are both informative and that are just great company. Here are three more that I currently like:
Smartless – This one has great guests, and just makes me laugh. Three prime-time comedians are the hosts: Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes. Each week, one of them invites a surprise guest that the other two hosts try to guess. When the guest is revealed, a hilarious conversation ensues (‘interview’ seems too formal). They’ve had some awesome guests since they began this past July, including Paul McCartney, Kamala Harris, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. This one definitely ticks the boxes for informative and great company.
It Was Said – This is a limited documentary podcast series for the history geek in me. The incomparable author-historian Jon Meacham takes the listener through 10 iconic American speeches and gives analysis and insights into their origins and relevance in today’s world. Historic speakers include John Lewis, Meghan McCain, and Edward R. Murrow. Meacham’s euphonious eloquence is a perfect vehicle to explore these timeless speeches.
You and Me Both – The host is Hillary Clinton, and she is a great interviewer with a superstar guest list. The conversations are always thought-provoking. Some of my favorite episodes include “The American Dream” with Lorella Praeli, Raj Chetty, and Queer Eye‘s Tan France, in which each comes to the topic with his/her own immigrant experience and what the American Dream means to them. I also loved listening to the “Gutsy Women” episode with Gloria Steinem and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Hillary herself embodies all that’s best about gutsy women and it was inspiring to listen to.
That’s it for today! 🙂 In an upcoming post I’ll share what I’ve been reading, as well as a wonderful new project I’ve just started. May you have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the blessings of health, love, and wonder in the coming year!