Last year, my parents made the long haul across the pond to come visit me in the UK for Christmas. It was great to have them here, but some of us didn’t enjoy the atmospheric deploring gloom and despairing lack of sunlight that the UK has to offer this time of year. In return, I made the trip home this year and took Kait with me, checking off her first trip to America! She was as excited as a puppy when it came to this trip, and showed her excitement in much of the same way. The trip was short, but we managed to fit a lot of “American” activities in.
First and foremost, we had to take a trip to Kroger to make a few purchases: a 64 oz bottle of my favorite BBQ sauce, a bottle of Buffalo wing sauce, 10 lbs of flour to bake with, and candy — American candy. Since you can get a lot of things in the UK, there were only a few things Kait needed to try, namely, Crunch and 3 Musketeers. Perplexed at first, she seems to approve.
To the bewilderment of my father, Kait took her first boat ride, EVER, on our second day home. Some of us got in smaller boats than others, but we decided to enjoy the best of the weather that the forecast had to offer and ride around Lake Murray. After the boat ride, we waited diligently until it got dark to visit Saluda Shoal’s Christmas lights. For 14 years now, a public recreation center has put up a drive through lights display, sponsored by various local businesses. This is always a holiday favorite of mine and is one of many stops we like to make on our holiday light tourism route. Unfortunately, one major stop has stopped putting up their lights, but seeing that they put so much work into it with very help, I can understand why they stopped.
Christmas Eve Baking
On Christmas eve, two significant events happened. First, to the bewilderment of my mother, Kait attended her first church service. This was a bit of a reverse-culture-shock to many of the women in my mother’s friend group to find that other people in the world don’t attend church religiously, or at all. The second thing that happened, arguably more monumental, was my mother tried some of my bread after a year and a half of a no carb diet!
I took my sourdough starter home and baked bread over the holiday. I made a loaf of bread for a party, pizza dough, and three dozen bread rolls to split between my family and my neighbors. It was a big hit and probably one of the better pizza crusts I made.
This year, Christmas day had three notable events. Upon waking up at 7am, I proceeded to start my baking of the bread rolls and had rolls to my neighbors at 8:30 am — they didn’t know what hit them! The second notable event was the slow migration to the presents was late this season, occurring at a record late 10:00am. Lastly, we had Christmas day lunch/dinner with our neighbors, which was a pleasure to get to host them and spend time with them.
On boxing day, we spent the day walking around downtown
Kait and I took a day to ourselves to go explore Charleston, but as with every good road trip, you need to start your day with a good breakfast, of Chick-fil-a chicken biscuits. Kait had been giving me crap for months over what a “biscuit” is… She finally got to see for herself and she enjoyed it, although it confused her. We decided she could understand it as a buttermilk scone for the rest of her life, and I will know it for all its glory, a buttered biscuit.
With the biscuit-affair out of the way, we were on our way to downtown Charleston to see the markets and Waterfront park. I’m not sure if Kait had it in for me or something, but all I could seem to get of her was pictures of her walking away from me! I was finally able to catch up to her and get a picture with her at the pineapple fountain though. We met up with a good friend of mine for lunch, Jake, before heading off to see the Citadel, Rainbow Road, and the Battery. We hit some southern breakfast food at Rarebit and head home to see Star Wars.
One of the things I learned was that pineapples are a sign of hospitality in the South. To quote from Southern Living:
The ability of a hostess to have a pineapple adorn her dining table for an important event said as much about her rank in society as it did about her ingenuity. These beautiful fruits were in such high demand, but so hard to get, that colonial confectioners would often rent them to households by the day. Later, the same fruit was sold to other, more affluent clients who actually ate it. While fruits in general–fresh, dried, candied and jellied–were in great demand, the pineapple was the true celebrity. Its rarity, expense, and striking beauty made it the ultimate exotic fruit. Visitors confronted with pineapple-topped food displays felt particularly honored by a hostess who obviously spared no expense to ensure her guests’ dining pleasure. In this manner, the image of the pineapple came to express the sense of hospitality characteristic of gracious home gatherings.
Star Wars Episode VIII
Kait and I tried to see the movie after coming back from Charleston. Unfortunately it was sold out, so we picked ourselves off and begin to head home when I overheard a dad telling his kids and their friends that they couldn’t see Star Wars because it sold out. I was crushed for him, but there was nothing we could do for them since we were in the same boat as well. We just tried again the next day after lunch with two childhood friends of mine, Kristen and Liz, who both happen to be in Europe as well (Oxford and France respectively).
Star Wars Episode VIII… as for the movie itself, I’ll air my grievances in another post… Kait got the largest size popcorn she could though. Had to make the trip worth it somehow…
One of my good friends invited me to go to dinner with him at the best Korean restaurant in all of SC: Korean O-bok Restaurant. Man, that place is great. Their grilled bulgogi is out of this world. Would highly recommend.
Basketball and Margaritas
On our last full day in the states, my brother got us tickets to the Winthrop Basketball Game vs High Point University. As a team manager, one of the perks is that he can “get us in” on the “VIP list”, which, honestly let us walk by the giant line of people waiting to get in. Afterwards, we went to a Mexican restaurant (or at least the South’s take on Mexican food — which is better than the UK’s to be fair). Since my mother had been here before, and she wasn’t driving thankfully, she decided to get a “Margarita Grande” without checking the menu. She got a fish bowl. A fish bowl full of margarita. We were impressed that she walked out of the restaurant.
The last fine dining location she needed to visit was, of course, Waffle House. She seems to have enjoyed her breakfast… it may have just been the coffee she was missing… who knows.
The biggest thing I wish I had was a few more days to spend with my friends. It’s a bit hard to be so far away from them and get so little time with them… But I’ve been fortunate to make such good friends here, and am happy to be back with them.
The trip ends here, where Kait and I pack ourselves in the steel tube called a plane and head home to start another year. This year was good, but I’m excited to see what 2018 brings.