Holiday Greeting Letter 2021-2022

Cheers to the end of 2021! It seems like just yesterday *almost* no one knew what Zoom was. And here we are, starting our third year in the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is Olivia, the middle child of the Kang family. I will be representing the family this year as I write this letter, a recapitulation of the year 2021.

Let’s rewind a bit.

So, remember how I wrote the letter two years ago? That was right before COVID-19 hit, back in December of 2019. And we had no idea what was coming. I was in the middle of my seventh grade year, in person. We wouldn’t go online until the middle of March 2020. Eighth grade would be all online. And starting September 2021, we went back in-person, masked, vaccinated, and ready to find our ‘normal’ lives again. Well. I can say with full confidence that it’s been anything but normal.

I started high school with broken social skills, a KF94 mask, and new hair. Wishing school was online again, I slowly remembered what school was like before… but was salty because I felt like my school wasn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Soon enough, 10 days after school started, each member of my family tested positive for COVID-19. We had never imagined this. Five (we thought) breakthrough cases (Pfizer vaccinated). I thought we would make it out of the pandemic without being infected. We still don’t know where we contracted it from, so I guess it will remain a mystery. Although it was difficult to get through, we want to send the biggest thank you to the community that surrounds us. We received so much love and support (mainly in the form of food ;), and we are still so thankful.

Starting with our youngest, the 막내, Linus at age 10. He was not a breakthrough. Linus was (and still is currently) participating in a COVID-19 study with Seattle Children’s Hospital, in which he received two shots, which were either a placebo or the real vaccine. Turns out, he got the placebo. He eventually got the real thing in November. In the meantime, Linus is working on his trumpet skills, playing video games, and eating every form of potato. We also successfully roped him into the world of boba. He is also on a soccer team, their season recently ended. He is in the Azalea class (진달래반) in Korean school. Linus and I watched two K shows this year, Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예) and New World (신세계로부터). Highly recommended ^^ Linus has a bias in BTS (방탄소년단) now: SUGA - 슈가

Amanda, our oldest sibling at 17, is now a senior. She is hard at work at college applications, which is the reason why I am writing the letter this year. It was actually Amanda’s turn, but she allowed me to do it. She works very hard in school for photography class and is in the Symphonic band at our high school, specifically the only trombone!! She still plays flute as well, but trombone is currently her main instrument. She is still using our uncle’s 30+ year old trombone, and it sounds pretty good. Amanda is also still on the Garfield debate team, with her position as captain. Her favorite kind of ramyeon remains Buldak Spicy Chicken Ramyeon (불닭볶음면). Amanda, my mom, and I watched multiple Korean dramas together. Namely Squid Game (오징어 게임) as I am sure many of you have also seen. We are also huge fans of Hospital Playlist, especially as the highly anticipated second season which came out over the summer of 2021.

—> Help us make Amanda’s latest YouTube video go viral heh~ koreans be like

I must talk about my mom now because she deserves a whole speech and trophy (as always), but this year has been extra tough for multiple reasons. She has been through a lot. However, something special was that she and Amanda went on a college tour on the East Coast in August, and is now helping her with college applications. Our umma is so hard working and thoughtful, she handwrote cards for everyone that supported us when we had COVID-19. She somehow cooks good food for us every day, helps us with school and our social schedules, and is always there to drive us everywhere we need to be on time. She helps us be the best we can, because sometimes she knows us better than we know ourselves. One of her hobbies is playing tennis. She would definitely play more if she had time :) She also takes walks with her friends, talks with her friends, and seeing her with her friends is a time when she is truly happy. I can hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes. She is also a very helpful daughter in law, especially during the time that my 친할아버지 (paternal grandfather) was living with us. My grandpa was able to have a smooth transition from New York to Seattle, and a huge part of that was how my mother was able to help him do that. I look for my mom when I am lost because she can help me find my way again. That is the person my mother has been for me this past year.

It’s been a busy year for our papa. Our pastor papa, teacher papa, and mac hero papa. It’s true that I don’t see him much, often the first time of the day I see him is late at night. However, that changed when I went into full Olivia-Dad unexpected bonding time when quarantine happened. Appa and I tested positive right around the same time. So you can imagine what it was like to have papa bonding time 24/7. It was a new experience. I definitely did not eavesdrop on his meetings when I was lying quietly on the ground. But during that time, I realized how much work he has on his shoulders, and how much of that I never knew about, and it broke my heart to see him work so hard. In particular, pastor papa has been a big role recently, because our church (Japanese Presbyterian Church) has been undergoing some big changes that require a lot of work from the associate pastors. I wish that he could get more rest, to have more than just work in his day, because he has done so much already in his full life. Sometimes we just sit there in silence, sometimes it is a deep conversation. How hard this past year must have been for him, I will never know. My dad is a mac hero, but my hero too. I hope he is a hero to those around him like he is to me.
I’m not crying. You are.

As for me, I started my freshman year in high school. This year I’ve been working on my golf game since I joined my school’s golf team. I was one of two people on the junior varsity team, but towards the end of the season I was given the chance to fill in for varsity players and compete in matches. I spent the most time re-learning how to hit a driver, which has since then increased my confidence in my long game. As usual, I’m just barely holding up as a violin in my school’s freshman orchestra. One new thing this year is that I decided to resume piano lessons after taking a break for a few years. As for music that I listened to, I had The Beatles, DAVICHI (다비치), and SF9 (에스에프나인) on repeat all year long. And also classical music, namely my new favorite piece, Maiden’s Prayer (Badarzewska)!!!
I am very grateful for an opportunity that came to me at the end of the summer this year. I was invited to Maui, Hawaii to visit with my samchon’s family (maternal uncle) which was a special experience that I don’t know if I will get to have again. It was the first time I have travelled alone, so I will not forget the events of that trip.
Another significant thing that happened this year was that I tested into the highest level (대나무반/Bamboo class) at the Korean school I have been attending since even before kindergarten (시애틀 벨뷰 통합 한국학교/USBKS). I guess it means a lot because I started from the very bottom and now it feels like I’ve reached a final destination of some sort… although I’m nowhere near close to fluency, this has been a step forward. Related to that, in my free time I like to watch K dramas >u< In 2021, I finished a total of twenty seven… ahahaha whoops. If I had to choose a top five (released in 2020-2021), I would definitely recommend:
True Beauty (여신강림)
Yumi’s Cells (유미의 세포들)
Hospital Playlist Season 2 (슬기로운 의사생활 시즌 2)
Sisyphus: The Myth (시지프스: the myth)
Squid Game (오징어 게임) *is this a given lol

Lately I’ve also been trying to practice cooking and baking more, and as always photos of food dominate my camera roll. Listed below is my Instagram account^^

—> Here is my favorite piano YouTube channel~ BELLA&LUCAS 벨라앤루카스

—> And my favorite violin/all things classical music YouTube channel~ TwoSetViolin

—> Food-Cooking-Baking Instagram~ @bapmeogeullae (먹스타그램-요리스타그램-베이킹스타그램) 밥 먹을래?

Last but not least, I think I will reflect a little bit on this past year on a more personal level.

First off, I am very appreciative towards my parents. It has been a bit of a difficult year, but they helped me to get through it. I think one of the hardest parts was dealing with the continued reality of loss, which has been hard for me (and I’m sure the rest of my family as well) to move on from when we lost my 친할머니 (paternal grandmother) in October of 2020. This year was the first anniversary of her passing, which reminded me again of her and it was hard not to feel so broken like I did the year before. However, what this reminded me of most was that I am not alone. I have a friend community, church community, and most importantly my family, who reminds me to see what I have, and not what I am missing.

I have learned that time is precious, and every second I realize more and more the importance of how we spend our days with each other. My year has been overflowing with the love and support that has washed over my family, and our broken hearts slowly begin to become whole again because of it. The time that passes by seems to get faster, as I prepare to watch my unnie go to college, and my 동생 (lil bro) will take a step forward into the beginning of his middle school years.

Thank you for walking with us.

The greatest gift is the happiness we feel with our loved ones, which I hope you will receive during this holiday season.

You made it. We made it. But it’s not over yet, but we completed yet another trip around the sun. And that’s a big accomplishment. You have worked so, so hard.

In 2022, we hope for a brighter future, even though we don’t know what it holds. Even though there is fear and anxiety of what will happen, we will push through. A new year is just around the corner, can you see it? Can you feel it now? The blank is waiting to be filled. We hope that you will fill 2022 with your best yet. Just like you have done for us, we will be there for you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t have made it through without it.

‘2021년의 끝이 보이나요?’
벌써 그렇게 시간이 지났습니다. 지난 2년이 너무 어려웠지만 우리 함께해 주셔서 감사드립니다. 2021년의 힘들었던 것들…고생을 많으셨습니다. 드디어 2021년의 끝이 볼 수 있을 것 같습니다. 거의 다 왔습니다. 앞으로도 응원하겠습니다!

따뜻한 마음, 따뜻한 겨울 ^^

With our hearts full, we wish you a restful holiday season and a happy new year. Cheers to the beginning of 2022!

새해 복 많이 받으시고 즐거운 시간을 보내시길 바랍니다!!

J.P., Keren, Amanda, Olivia, and Linus