Winter Family Reunion

My son Danny and his wife Jieun visited from California this Christmas. Since my daughter Christine and her husband Peter live in Houston, we had a nice family reunion. Unlike Korea, the U.S. is so big that it’s hard for family members to meet often; it had been a year since we were last together. I’ve asked them to make it a tradition to spend Christmas in Houston.

It’s obvious to us that Christine and Danny love and are loved by their spouses. They don’t seem to fight as much as we did when my wife and I first got married. This might be because they were raised in Christian families, whereas we became Christians after we got married.

Although they’re married, I can’t help feeling that they are still kids. When they go to bed with their partners I feel uncomfortable. I have to suppress the urge to say something like, “You’re not going to sleep in the same bed, are you?”

When our family gets together we tend to reminisce.

When Danny was born, he was the most attractive boy I ever saw. I took many pictures and sent them to all our relatives. But although they called or sent cards to congratulate us, no one mentioned Danny’s good looks. The only compliment I got was from one of my aunts: “For a newborn, he’s not bad looking.” How unenthusiastic! I was a little upset. But when I looked at those pictures years later, I realized that Danny was not as cute as I thought he was. We had to admit that it’s hard for a baby to look cute in pictures taken moments after their birth. When new fathers and mothers show me their newborns and ask, “Have you ever seen a baby as cute as this one?” I simply smile.

When Christine and Peter were dating, I imposed a curfew. She had to come home no later than midnight. I stayed up in the living room until she came home. But it was difficult to stay up late so often, so I came up with a plan. I set an alarm clock to go off at midnight and put it near the doorway. If Christine came home in time, all she had to do was simply turn off the alarm, and I would continue to sleep peacefully. If the alarm went off, that meant that she broke curfew and she would get a little scolding. But the alarm rarely went off. Recently, Christine confessed that at times, she and Peter would come home a little before midnight, turn off the alarm, and then go out again. Now I know the truth! But what can I do? They are now happily married.

Korean tradition requires that children bow to their elders on New Year’s, and they receive money as a present. I told my children that now that they’re grown, it’s time for them to give money instead of receiving after they’ve done their bows. So this year, Christine and Peter bowed to her grandmother who is visiting from Oregon, and then gave her money. But Christine seemed to miss receiving money from us parents. It’s not so much that she needs the money. It’s more another realization that her childhood is gone.

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