A Family Affair

In December of 2007, presidential elections were held in Kenya.   After a seemingly close race, incumbent President Kibaki was declared the winner and inaugurated into office within three days.  Amid allegations of foul play and tribalism, violent riots erupted soon after election results were announced.  From what I have gathered during my short time here in Kenya, it seems that the severity of the violence was both unexpected and shocking to the country as a whole.  

As a presidential term is 5 years in Kenya, the end of 2012 marked the coming of another presidential election.  In time, March 4th was set as election day and Kenyans and expats alike cautiously prepared for the day.  As the country was still reeling from memories of the violence in 2007, candidates devotedly called for a peaceful election.  Despite this, many of our friends (and ourselves included) decided not to take any chances and looked to leave Nairobi during this time.  As our wedding last July took place in Chicago and virtually included our immediate families exclusively, no one from my extended family in Korea was able to attend... neither had anyone had a chance to meet T before.  That said, we thought March would be a good time for us to visit Korea... hence the extended radio silence in this little corner of the internet.  

While the introduction between my family and T was always going to be somewhat formal, my parents seemed pretty adamant about keeping the event as low key as socially permitted.  But as my mother comes from a very large family, the guest list quickly topped 50 and things started to snowball soon thereafter.  In the end, we had a three hour family affair, complete with MC's and slideshows, 'love shots' and cake cuttings, singing and games.  

Cousins volunteered (or were enlisted) to host, translate, and provide live music.  My oldest aunt, a painter of traditional Korean art, was recently gifted with a set of traditional wedding 'hanboks' made by a colleague who is a master of traditional embroidery.  In hopes of starting a new family tradition, my aunt very generously offered to lend the hanboks to T and I for this occasion.  It was a pretty bewildering and educational experience, dressing up in such unexpected lavishness.  My oldest cousin's wife who is a professor of traditional Korean clothing even gave us a little tutorial as she helped us get dressed.  

I had not seen any of my relatives in many years... and as I mostly grew up in the US, I never had much of a chance to grow close to them.  But I was truly touched by how they all rallied behind us to make our little gathering so deep with fantastic memories.  It turned out to be a day to remember and to remind myself of how lucky I am to have the family (immediate, extended, and otherwise) that I have.   


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