I didn't go out on New Year's Eve.
But you knew that already.
As much as it truly disappointed me to miss out on all the debaucherous fun to instead spend a hot, sweaty, shiver-inducing evening at home alone, it was absolutely devastating to miss New Year’s Day with my family. No matter what I did or where I was the night before, I always go home on New Year’s Day. I could be hungover from the night before, still drunk and reeking of alcohol at 11 AM, puking for that matter; I have always made it home to spend time with my family, reflect on our lives over the past year, think about our futures, and share a traditional Korean meal of dduk gook (which is, incidentally, a great hangover cure).
However, this year I was excommunicated from my parents’ house on New Year’s Day because I was still sick. My little baby niece with a nascent immune system and my sister who is “with grandchild” must be shielded from coughing, hacking, bacteria-spewing lepers like me. “Sure you can come home,” Mom said in a voice that was dripping with honey, “but you have to wear a surgical mask.”
Oh! Great. And maybe I should actually just stand on the backyard patio outside and wave to everyone through the sliding glass doors. Would you mind passing me my dduk gook through the doggie door, please? I’ll sterilize the empty bowl before I send it back.
I can take a hint. I didn’t go to my parents’ house.
You would think that it wouldn’t be such a big deal missing New Year’s Day with my family. In fact, I am not immune to finding it a nuisance to drive through a purple haze down to Orange County, rolling my eyes at the thought of listening to my Dad’s lectures yet again about time, tide, money, the millionaire next door who drives am F150 and gets $10 haircuts, the Rule of 72, and the origin of potatoes. But that is not the point. The point of the lessons have long been learned. The point is that even as a very mature thirty-something, I am never too old to hear my Dad’s voice. I am never too old to see my Mom’s smile. I am never too old to crouch in the corner with my sisters and chatter about boys and beauty products.
And I am certainly never too old to squeal like a five-year-old when I get a little envelope full of cash. Sometimes, I don't mind being Korean.
But I really did miss my family. I missed them so much I called my parents' house every hour from 11 AM to dinner just because. What are you guys doing? We're cooking. What are you guys doing now? We're setting the table. What are you guys doing now? We're eating, Sarah. Does it taste good? Did you put mahn-doo in it? What's Dad lecturing about? What's [insert random family member's name] doing? I think they were getting annoyed.
It was P-A-thetic. Only forty minutes away by drive-time from my family, but I felt pretty far and away and slightly forgotten.
But Mom didn't forget me. She didn't forget me! She sent soup for me back up to West LA via my sister. Like she always does, she rationed the soup out into convenient single servings - one to eat now, the rest to freeze, re-heat, and eat until I got over "sick" - perfectly packaged in air tight containers, sealed in spill-proof plastic, labeled and neatly stacked up in a transport bag to make hand-off from my sister's car window to me easy and relatively germ-free.
There was no envelope full of cash thrown into the bag of soup, though.
I didn't care. The soup was delicious. I feel better already.