Chapter 1 Chapter 1
My name is Mindy Kim.
I’m almost eight years old, or at least, that’s how old I am in the United States. In Korea, though, I’m nine! That’s what Dad told me as he drove me to school.
“Korean people calculate age differently,” he said. “You’re already one year old when you’re born, and then you get one year older on New Year’s Day, instead of getting older on your birthday.”
I got really excited, since it’s been eight years since I was born. One plus eight is nine, and nine years old was definitely old enough to get a puppy. And even better yet, Lunar New Year was this Saturday!
“Does this mean that I’ll turn ten this weekend?” I asked, throwing my backpack in the back seat.
Dad laughed. “No, silly. People only age up on the first of January or on Lunar New Year, not both.”
I sat back into my seat with a big huff. “What’s the point of two New Years if you can only age up on one?”
Dad shook his head as he pulled into the school’s parking lot. “It’s an important part of our culture, Mindy. It goes way back to the times when our ancestors in Korea used the lunar calendar to tell time. Tell you what, why don’t we go to the Lunar New Year parade in Orlando this weekend? I saw an ad for it the other day. It looks like it’ll be fun!”
Dad smiled at me, but I was unconvinced. The last time Dad said something would be “fun,” I ended up watching a boring show about really slow slugs all by myself because he fell asleep in five minutes.
Plus, so much has changed since the last time we celebrated Lunar New Year. Last year, Dad, Mom, and I celebrated with the other Korean people in our neighborhood. We played really fun games like yutnori and jegichagi, ate so many yummy rice cakes, and even sang karaoke! There was no way that we could have as much fun this year as we did then.
Not without Mom.
Now the only other Korean family in our neighborhood is Eunice’s, and they were going to Seattle to visit their relatives for the holiday. It was just going to be me and Dad.
“The parade will be fun,” Dad said again. “It’ll be good for us to leave the house.”
I sighed. Dad really wanted to go to the parade! And I didn’t want to make him sad by saying I didn’t want to go.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll go to the parade.”
Dad beamed. “Great! See you after school, honey.”
“Bye, Appa,” I said, using the Korean word for “Daddy.”
I headed toward the school, my shoulders slumped. I was not looking forward to Lunar New Year. Not anymore.