Search This Blog

Sunday, November 26

Holiday Times In The Land Of The Rising Sun

Clearly indicating that we have finally crossed into the fall season, the trees have begun to change color. Back home, this is the first indication of fall holidays and the quickly approaching Christmas season. With the leaves just now changing here and only in the subtlest of golden ways, nothing compared to the prism of colors in the Northeast region that I call home, I feel like I am behind in my holiday spirit.

Halloween came and went with barely a notice. It was still shorts and T-shirts weather during the day hours and did nothing for my imagination of ghosts and ghouls that hide in dark, damp and cold places.

Thanksgiving was yet another flash holiday. The week prior, you could already find the 7-11 down the street with the tackiest array of flashing lights on and off of an overwhelmed Christmas tree. We did our best to keep the thanks flowing in our humble abode.

The weekend saw me completing my grocery list for the big meal. My very first turkey. What an experience. Mom had given me all the directions for the turkey preparation and cooking and also the recipe to make her special stuffing (a family recipe). My other Mom (KH’s) gave me the recipe for her special stuffing (another family recipe). I made pumpkin pie two days before. I cut up three loaves of bread the night before and arose early to get things underway on the big day. Following tiny torn sheets of paper that I had written the recipes on, I cleaned the turkey, prepared the stuffings and mangled the bird pan to make it fit in my small oven. Time for the stuffing of the bird and, consequently, wretching. I am one who loves to cook but this is by far the most horrible thing I have ever had to prepare. I can handle cooking poultry if it doesn’t look like its original form. As fast as I could go, I squeezed what I could into the cavity and then practically threw the whole damn thing in the oven. Then I had to take a fifteen minute break to wash my hands, clean under my nails, wash my hands again, rinse, lather, repeat.

For the next five hours, I prepared the rest of the dishes, straightened the house and waited for our guests to arrive. One all-American Detroit man and his date, a lovely and wonderful Japanese girl. Upon their arrival, I reminded both again that this was a first attempt and therefore I was not responsible for any delays, disgusts or subsequent illnesses. The turkey came late to the party but when he finally did join us, he was looking and tasting mighty fine. Of course, that is until an inexperienced Kimono Hubby took what we only guessed was the carving knife to him.

With the pristine white table cloth completely covered in dishes, it was time to sit down and give up that thanks and enjoy.

One thing your momma never told you about making this meal… you will spend all day preparing it and then the minute it is ready, you don’t want to eat a damn thing. It’s entirely wrong to do to a woman but that is exactly what happened. I filled up on red wine and cranberry sauce instead, and only the cranberry sauce because I didn’t make it and only spent time pouring it from a can. (Thank you, Ocean Spray!)

Honestly, it was a lovely meal and everyone seemed to enjoy their second plate fulls. We played some Trivial Pursuit just like we were back home and my whole family was sitting around the table trying yet again to prove they are the smartest of them all.

When our guests were completely full of meal and pie, we kicked them out the door into the rain and told them to walk it off on their way to the train. Not really. What really happened was that KH drove them down to the station and I collapsed onto the floor in a heap of exhaustion vowing never to try that again. (I’ll be home next year, Moms, so get them cooking fingers ready!)

Other than our guest for the day, it seems that the Japanese really care nothing for our Thanksgiving holiday… but they do love to tacky up Christmas!

We did not bring any of our decorations with us. They sadly are housed in storage somewhere in northern Virginia. The only and only piece I cared about was the tree. I was bound and determined to have one here. We had gone to Daiei (mall chain here in Japan) last weekend and found ourselves the perfect specimen. Only 3,900 Yen (about $32 bucks at the exchange rate that day) and it came with all its own fixin’s. At the counter to pay, the woman opened the box to show us inside and we honestly laughed out loud to see lights, tinsel, red ornaments, gold pinecones and one very large plastic “Merry Christmas” just waiting inside for us. They certainly don’t sell them like that back home! Japan is one very strange place, in case I haven’t mentioned it before.

The day after Thanksgiving, we spent the evening putting up our plastic tree. We had a handful of ornaments we bought at a bazaar a few months ago to add to the array. Behold the glory that is the Kimono Christmas Tree! (For ornament close-ups, check out the Flickr link on the sidebar.)

We placed it on a box to make it look a wee bigger. I really think they make them that short because most Japanese people barely even reach that height and I just don’t think they care for the whole ladder to put the star on top idea. Or maybe it is just that short because we bought the cheapest one instead of the one that cost 6,900 Yen and was a full foot taller. That tree didn’t come with guts though so it only got two big tongues stuck out at it as we walked away with the wee one.

This tree would be the entire extent of our decorating. Well, unless you qualify the candle that I just bought that has some snowflakes on it and looks rather wintery.

So, it may not even look like Halloween outside but Christmas has warmed our hearts inside.

Really though, despite the plane trip, I cannot wait to arrive back at home for the holidays and take in all the spirit that embodies our hometowns. Mom and Dads – get those home fires burning because it is only a few short weeks away!

Oh, and one more thing… would it be too much to ask for a White Christmas? Just checking.


Anonymous said...

You've more stamina than I ever had. I made that trip across the big pond so many times I can't count them all, and every one of the crossings was as boring as the 1st. The only plane trips I ever dreaded. Happy holidays to you both.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you had a decent Thanksgiving. It's never quite the same as home though.

I'm taking Friday, 12/29 off and heading to PA so keep your schedule relatively open that evening - I want to come visit you before you head back "home"! Looking forward to seeing you both again soon!

Anonymous said...

i love the tree! it's so cute. it looks like it's the same size of my tree and i also put a phone book under it to make it look taller. you're ornaments are better than mine :)