I guess there really is no one official name for the anniversary date of adoptees being united with their adoptive families, is there? A few people I know call it ‘Gotcha Day’ which is cute. My mom decided to be quite literal and call it Airplane Day (because I came over on a plane..haha). So, that is how I know it. My Airplane Day is January 21st. This year, as in other years that I’ve been in college, we will be unable to celebrate it together, so we did an early celebration a few days ago while I’m still on break. We typically do something pretty low-key. This year we went to one of my favorite local restaurants for hibachi. I would have picked Korean cuisine, except that there are sadly no Korean restaurants near us. My mom also insisted on getting me a gift of some sort as she always does, so I received a pair of dainty teardrop earrings which are my birthstone. I’ve realized at any rate that all my favorite and most-worn pieces of jewelry are from my mom because they were given with great sincerity and affection. She always wants me to be happy on Airplane Day. I don’t expect anything, so I just appreciate what she does.
As an adult, Airplane Day is honestly not too exciting anymore, but as a kid it was something special. I have to say that my favorite Airplane Day was when I was in first grade. For most of my childhood, my mom always tried to get me a gift related to Korean culture. That particular year we celebrated with my grandma (yes, the cute grandma who STILL insists on setting me up with the married worker at the nursing home). It was a joint celebration since Grandma’s birthday falls one day before my Airplane Day. My mom and I gave Grandma a necklace with an amethyst stone which is her favorite gem. She and my mom gave me my first hanbok—a pale pink number with multi-colored accents and printed with delicate gold foil designs. It was love at first sight. I felt as though I had never seen a more beautiful garment in my entire (6 years) of life! It sounds corny to say, but receiving that hanbok made me swell with pride at being Korean and knowing that I came from a country that produced something so elegant. I tried it on almost immediately and felt like a princess in it. Probably would have slept in the dang thing except that it really was not that comfortable. I no longer own a hanbok that fits me, so I look back on this memory as an especially precious one. The thing I’m learning now is that embracing my heritage extends far beyond Airplane Day. Any and every day is a good day to celebrate where I came from and be proud of it. I’m still figuring it out..