(Un)traditional: A Dern Dinner


Fallon Dern

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, as my mom and I both have birthdays that fall during the week we don’t have work or school. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I like sharing my birthday with Thanksgiving and my mother. It just means I like gifts and food, which I’m pretty sure is a universal thing.

Our food, which combines traditional American dishes with Korean cuisine, follows this theme of hybrid celebrations. The dining table hosts plates of turkey, butternut squash souffle, bulgogi and japchae.

I play translator in between bites, making use of my limited Korean to win my family’s favor and ask them to move the rice closer to my seat. Topics range from birthday wishes to discussions of Korean pop culture, which typically end in my elders asking me to sing in Korean, I never do.

I then watch as my sister pretends to know how to use chopsticks and eventually sneak to the kitchen to pass her a fork. We eat until our pants are nearly unbuttoned and our stomachs are full.

At the end of the night, I look onto our table and find comfort in how, despite the barriers language, age and time build between us, a good meal can keep our family close every single year.