Dear Bok Unnie:
My partner and I just moved into a new home. Members of my partner’s family have been very sweet to drop by with housewarming presents — but now I have enough Tide laundry detergent for a year! What gives? We do laundry regularly; I don’t think our clothes smell. Aren’t housewarming gifts supposed to be more like wine, flowers, or a nice candle?
Home Sweet Laundromat
Dear Home Sweet Laundromat,
A year’s supply of Tide?? And you’re complaining?? I can still see the giant-sized brick of industrial laundry soap my mom used to hand wash our clothes when I was a little girl growing up in a third-world Korea. We used the same soap on our hair and bodies. If I could go back in time, tap my mother’s shoulder as she was hunched over outside squatting over a bucket and a washboard, and presented her a gift of a year’s supply of magical powder that you pour into a machine that automatically washes your clothes for you, she would probably have thought she won the kbc lottery! And it’s not like they gave you Purex! They gave you the Cadillac of detergents. Koreans are a practical bunch and traditional housewarming gifts are things that you will always need for the house (like toilet paper or detergent). The secret to happiness is gratitude. You may not know what it’s like not to have a washing machine and detergent. But the next time you look at your beautiful stack of tomato red Tide boxes, think of my mom and hear my voice telling you, “you’re welcome.”
xoxo Bok Unnie