A Thanksgiving Story | Subtle moments with Umma

Annette Kim
2 min readNov 26, 2021


’Tis Thanksgiving and this morning, my umma (mom) video-called me on Kakao Chat.

This woman was my David Goggins growing up. She is tiny with military-grade intensity, fiery and fierce like a little Energizer bunny who takes no prisoners.

I got just a brief glimpse of her before the video froze so we both turned off our cameras and continued as a voice call, two black squares in a rectangle.

“Why you look so old,” was her opening line, classic Umma.

She did too, but I didn’t tell her that. Instead, I said, “I’m almost 32.”

“Are you using sunscreen?”

We chatted for just a few minutes, surface-level polite conversation, safe conversation, which I appreciated. Then she started to edge her way to the exit.

“Okay, bye — ” she began to say but I interrupted and asked what she made for Thanksgiving, longing for more connection.

Connection with her in this moment and connection to a past wrapped in the golden hue of nostalgia.

I turned my video back on, facing her black square.

“Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, bulgogi … “ She listed off and kept going … It was a large spread.

For just her and Appa.

The rest of us, my brother, my sister, and I, were spread out and far away this Thanksgiving. My brother and sister in Maryland and me in Peru.

I started crying, my eyes getting red and puffy; Umma asked me why. I could hear her own tears begin to fall, voice trembly and nose stuffing up.

Suddenly, I felt very sad.

Suddenly, my heart ached to be with them in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

How could I express everything I felt in that moment — Love, Compassion, Sorrow, Remorse. I keep seeing my mother newly.

Time starts to feel more finite with age. At least time relative to these corporeal bodies.

I don’t have a picture of my mom on me, so here’s one of the kids



Annette Kim

Forget rules | Live true