Today was a great day, one of nicest we have had since we arrived here. The weather in Seoul was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny and mild. The heavy rains and flashing flooding from the night before washed away the grit of the city, making it clean and crisp. I called my father to wish him an early happy birthday. He will be 60 years old this year according to the solar calendar. In Korea, a person’s 60th birthday, or hwan-gap (환갑), is a significant milestone in one’s life. 60 years represents longevity and signifies that a person has lived long enough to experience five complete cycles of the Zodiac. (The Korean Zodiac is based on the Chinese Zodiac, which last 12 years with each year represented by an animal.) Unfortunately, my father is not too excited about celebrating his 60th birthday. He does not even want a birthday party or birthday gifts. That’s too bad. Even if I were there to celebrate it, it would not be much of a celebration. I can’t blame him, because I too am not very excited about celebrating my own birthday. After the age of 30, birthdays tend to mean that you’re one year older and closer to the end of your life. The lack of enthusiasm for growing a year older must run in the family.
After I called my father, my family went for lunch and grocery shopping. In early afternoon, I mowed the lawn, and I weeded the flower beds in front of the house. Mundane, I know, but I still enjoyed it. I don’t mind short-term projects such as yard work. I haven’t had much time to do yard work lately, so our lawn and flower beds were embarassingly overgrown. My neighbors’ homes are generally well manicured, so our yard appeared conspicuously neglected. My wife pruned back the flowers, and I weeded. My son even helped out by watering the gardens for his mom. He was a good boy today.
Tonight we hosted a dinner for my wife’s future boss and his girlfriend. The man who helped her find her new job and his fiancee also joined us. I had to go to the store twice for food items we forgot to buy for tonight’s dinner, so I was not able to finish mowing the backyard. We also started late preparing dinner. I was still grilling by the time the guests arrived. I grilled steaks, Korean-style short ribs (galbi), vegetable skewers, and hamburgers. Our son was taking a nap when our guests arrived, and the commotion woke him up prematurely. As a result, he was very cranky. My wife was at wit’s end trying to prepare the dinner, greet guests, and take care of our son. I was too busy grilling to help inside the house. The situation was quite stressful for both of us until I finished grilling. After that, I took my son off my wife’s hands, gave her the grill food, and took my son to the playground. My wife and our guests started dinner without me. It’s the first time I’ve been late to a dinner party she we arrived in Seoul. It was worth it, though. Going to the playground cheered up my son, and after that he was fine. I played with him for almost two hours and didn’t join our guests for dinner until about 8 p.m. I would have liked to have spent more time with our guests, but I knew that I needed to take care of my son so that my wife could entertain her future boss and the one who helped her find her new job. My wife promised that one of these nights I can have a night out of my own. For now, I look forward to taking a day off to enjoy our anniversary and spending the rest of the week in Pusan with my family.