Housewarming 집들이(jib-deul-ee)

The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it.  ~Author Unknown

If this quote is to be believed, then our new little home in Seoul has been duly ornamented.  Mr. Logical and I were touched and pleased that so many were able to stop by our housewarming party on a rainy Seoul Saturday evening to lift a glass and wish us well, and our hearts as well as our home were truly warmed.  It was an evening of good food, good drink, and good cheer; a completely ordinary evening rendered extraordinary by the laughter, kindness and warmth brought to our home by these new friends of ours.  While I was far too busy talking and drinking to take any pictures (this will come as no surprise to those who know me personally,) I do have some impressions to share from a wonderful evening:

  • The Korean tradition of removing shoes in the home is a visual pat on the back for the host or hostess. Nothing makes you feel loved like an entryway full of shoes (thanks to Son #2, who said he thought this shot summed up the party perfectly.)
  • The setting does not matter.  The size of the apartment, the furniture you have (or don't have), the sumptuousness of the food (or lack thereof), and the fact that the drinks are being served in plastic cups do not in any way affect the success of your endeavor if the friendships are warm, the music is good, and the margaritas contain enough tequila.
  • Friendships grow quickly here.  In the expat community, people you have known for just weeks can feel as close as family.  There's something about being thousands of miles away from home in a new country that builds relationships faster than just about anything else.
  • Even when your 'kitchen' comprises only a few cabinets and a worktop, it's still the place where everyone ends up.  I have no idea how this happened, since it defies all the laws of physics, but it did, and I was right there in the mix.
  • People are incredibly thoughtful.  We never thought of gifts when extending our invitations, but people arrived with all kinds of beautiful and thoughtful touches for our home (including some very welcome bottles of wine - the bottom drawer of the kimchi fridge is now replenished.)
  • Speaking of gifts, it is traditional in Korea to give practical, useful gifts at a housewarming, some of which you would not expect to receive back home, but which are nonetheless deeply appreciated, and which provided the best photo op of the evening:  

Yes, it's starting to feel like home.


Wilma said…
That's the gift I want!! LOL Sounds like you had a great evening.
Daria Valdez said…
HAaaaaa! I would LOVE that toiler paper as a house warming gift!! Carolyne, you are so warm and hospitable I'm not surprised at all that your party was a glowing success! We sooo missed you at Carol's house and we ALSO congregated around Carol's kitchen! Hilarious that several thousand miles away y'all were doing the same thing! I love the shoe removing culture as I have light colored carpeting in my house. Miss you sooo much!
MsCaroline said…
@Wilma: I plan to introduce the practice once we get back to the US..;)

@Daria: See above, and you are too kind! Wish I'd been at Carol's - the kitchen always seems to be the most comfortable place anywhere you go, doesn't it? Thanks for posting photos - gave me a pang of homesickness to see the sweet familiar faces of las Chicas!
Karen said…
Sounds like a great party! And now, with the kimchi fridge replenished and the bathroom as are all set. Liked your sentiment about the surroundings vs. company and glad that you had both lovely surroundings and lovely people to grace your party. Saw on facebook where you were moving slowly and quietly the next day..LOL. Neil and I attended a wedding Friday bar, so we were pretty slow and quiet on Saturday. Getting old!
MsCaroline said…
Karen, you are right...getting old. As far as the surroundings go... don't know that 'lovely' would have been the word I would have used, especially after Mr. Logical spilled sugar all over the floor while muddling a mojito (mind you, we were all barefoot)...but no one seemed to mind...; )
Trish said…
That's an inspired shot of the footwear by the door - congratulate that boy!
Sounds like you've made a good impression on your new neighbours and I can't say I'm surprised. From the short time I've known you online I think an evening at yours would be a very pleasurable one.
MsCaroline said…
Thanks for the kind words, Trish, and I'll pass on the compliment to Son #2! Too bad you're in sunny Portugal instead of rainy Seoul - you'd have undoubtedly been a delightful addition to the party...
Iota said…
Great gift! And I love the photo of the shoes.
MsCaroline said…
Iota - I agree, I have no idea why we don't do that in Western culture. so practical. Will pass on the compliment to Son #2 and I'm sure it will make his day.

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