This morning I spent hours making a homemade Korean meal for my roommate for her birthday.
I was sure to include (미역국 pronounced miyeok gook) aka seaweed soup, which Koreans traditionally eat on their birthdays. Seeing as how I’m Korean and my roommate has a deep interest in Korean culture I thought I would give her the experience of enjoying the Korean tradition. (I also wanted to try making the soup from scratch as well as my mom does-I think I did my mom proud)
This tradition stems from the day of birth. The new mother eats seaweed soup as the first meal after childbirth and for several weeks following the birth. The particular seaweed used in the soup is rich in iron which is an essential nutrient in blood production. Since there is a significant loss of blood during labor, mothers eat seaweed to replenish cell and blood supply in the body. Seaweed soup on a birthday therefore celebrates the person and symbolizes the renewal of blood and re-invigoration of the body to prepare for a new rewarding year.
A few hours later I was doing work… and somehow came across a poem I wrote for a friend’s birthday card in 2007, five years ago.
Here it is:
“There are some things I’d like to tell you
On your special day,
I hope you have a day filled with happiness-
For lots of love, to come your way.
I hope that unlike an artificial paradise
You find a place, perfect for you
A place where you can be yourself, loved and happy.
Where you’ll always be true.
Don’t always settle for what you can get,
Always strive for something more
Because you know you can get something better
If you don’t try, you won’t know what’s in store.
Make new friends and keep the old
For sometimes we do need a change.
Try to make the best of everything
Even if you feel like you’re chained.
As your age increases
Let your heart also mature
Because with your kindness and personality you’ll accomplish something great,
I hope that If you’re faced with a choice
and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
I hope that if one door closes, another one opens
But if that was just an illusion
I hope you’ll find a solution.
Don’t just look, touch.
Don’t just wish you were something or were there
You have enough ambition, talent, and passion.
If you want it, dare to be rare.
I hope your dreams stay big and your concerns small
I hope you’ll still be standing after it all
Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Happiness, love, success is what makes us live longer.
So I hope after all the birthday wishes,
After the celebration, you’ll get a sense of dedication-
That before we get to graduation
You’ll get a revelation,
An inspiration, a motivation, determination and a realization
Were born a sensation.
May your heart be light
And your life MORE than okay
And our friendship last for many years and a day
Your friend , A”
I know, that was incredibly cheesy/cute however you want to look at it. It was a card, after all
I must say though, its amazing how some things never change.
I read this now, years later and I’m happy to report that everything I wished for others I am continually working towards myself.
If it your birthday and it’s coming up, I hope you have an amazing day and year! Consider the above poem as my birthday poem to you.
““When asked what he wanted for his birthday, the Buddha replied: ‘I ask for no gifts, only presence.’”