A Special Birthday

It was a big day! Gina’s baby sister Annie was turning one year old, and Gina’s grandma had come all the way from Korea to celebrate. The house was full of noise. Gina’s uncles and aunts were talking and laughing, Gina’s puppy was barking joyfully, and everyone could smell the delicious food Gina’s mom had been cooking all day.

“It is a special thing to turn one,” Gina’s grandmother told her. “When I was a little girl, many babies didn’t live that long.”

That surprised Gina. “Why, Grandma?” she asked.

“Back then, it could be hard to get enough food,” Grandma answered, “and babies weren’t always healthy. But if a baby reached one year, we knew she could grow up to be a healthy child. That’s why we celebrate with a big party.”

The day before, Gina’s parents had decorated the living room with a big table and lots of balloons. Gina and her mom had made decorations, filled tall glass vases with fruit, and glued colorful candies in pretty patterns on tall canisters.

That morning, Gina’s mom set up the table for the baby’s first-birthday game. She placed books and pens, a stethoscope, a bowl of rice, and a ball of string in the middle of the table.

“Those are Annie’s fortune items,” Grandma explained. “We will see what she picks up first. That might offer a hint about her future. Will she be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher? Will she enjoy great success? Will she live a long life? We’ll see what she chooses!”

It was almost time for the rest of the guests to arrive. All the uncles and aunts waited in the kitchen while Gina’s parents went upstairs to get Annie ready. Gina got ready too, putting on her colorful hanbok. “Grandma,” she asked, “can you help me tie the bow?”

Suddenly, they heard a crash.

Gina rushed to the living room with her grandma. “Oh no! What a mess!”

The puppy had jumped onto the table when nobody was looking—and knocked lots of things over. Even worse, the fortune items were missing!

“That dog took the baby’s fortune items!” cried Grandma. “Your parents will be so upset.” “Wait,” Gina told Grandma, “I think I can help!” She ran to her bedroom.

First, Gina found her play doctor kit and took out the toy stethoscope. Next, she grabbed a pen and a book from her desk. Finally, she went to her closet and found a ball of yarn she used for crafts.

Gina went back to the living room and said, “Look what I have, Grandma!”

“Wonderful, Gina! All you are missing is a bowl of rice,” her grandmother replied. “Let’s get one from the kitchen.”

In a minute, Gina and Grandma had placed all the items on the table—and just in time! Her mother and father entered the room with baby Annie, all of them wearing hanboks.

As the doorbell rang, Grandma gave Gina a big hug. More family and friends had begun to arrive. “Now,” Gina thought happily, “the party can really begin!”