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Tuesday, December 25

Christmas Lost and Found

Today is Christmas. Where did the time go?? Where did the day go?? Why does Christmas come faster with each passing year?

My past weeks were spent trying to find some Christmas spirit. I tried really hard. It’s not that Japan doesn’t show some Christmas spirit, it’s just that what is here… is just all… wrong. It’s way more commercialized than it is back home, which is surprising when I think about how commercialized it is back home and somebody topped that here. My second thing with Christmas here is that it is all done rather spottily. A decoration here or there. A “merry Christmas” called out every so often. Businesses are open as usual and the people follow suit. Everything is just… off. Please know that I am not complaining. And I’m not blaming anyone either. The Japanese are culture that embraces Buddhism and Shintoism. Why should they celebrate a Christian holiday the way we do? The problem lies only within me.

Last year, we flew home. This year, we didn’t. It is my first year ever away from one side of the family or the other for the holidays. There are a lot of reasons for this. All of them good, logicial reasons. But it doesn’t change my past weeks of sadness when I think about not being with family and close friends on a day meant for such. There really is no place like home for the holidays.

So this is why I have been struggling with finding my Christmas spirit. KH keeps reminding me of my own motto to always stay positive, which is why I spent many days in the past week going through the motions that usually get a person ‘in the mood.’ I baked over sixteen dozen cookies that I shared with work colleagues and Japanese friends alike. I blared Christmas music and sang along at the top of my lungs, trying to have the wind in my lungs fill the sad space in my heart (it also helps to remind my neighbors why they have never changed their first impression of me as some sort of lunatic). I spent days shopping, wrapping and then shipping my packages tied pp with string. Cards were sent and received. The house has been decorated. All the while, I was still lacking warmth from those actions that usually provide me with that special traditional sense of the Christmas spirit.

A package arrived from home last week that got me as close as it could to filling my heart. Mom always knows just the right words to say and the right thing to send to make every just… better.

Karen – This little guy is brining you lots of hugs from me. When Christmas gets to you because you won’t be home, just hug him and know that I gave him a lot of hugs for you. I love you, Mom

The note came with Petey the Peng-bird; and he is full of stuffed Christmas cheer that will warm your heart. (Did you know about my love affair with the peng-bird?… I couldn’t say penguin as a child… either because I was too dumb or more likely just too stubborn.) The duck has been given a needed break and instead I drag Petey around the house like some child with a comforting, old blanket.

So Christmas comes today, backed with all the dread that I had associated with it for months. For weeks, I teared up just thinking about it. But you know what? There were no tears today. Christmas just wasn’t so bad like I expected a holiday away from home would be. Sure it didn’t look like home, smell like home, feel like home or have the love of a large family around me. While those things weren’t present in reality, they were all present in my heart. For each second of this day.

When I woke up today, I wasn’t expecting there would be too much Christmas-y ‘special’ to come from the day. I simply couldn’t have been more wrong. For every moment of today, that something special has been here. It was in the phone calls to home. It was in first attempt to make the dinner menu my in-laws enjoy for Christmas. It was in the mass of lovingly chosen gifts we ripped through before breakfast. Most of all, it was in the day of quiet hominess that my heart felt… halfway around the world from everything I had believed was what made it Christmas. For all of my weeks of searching, Christmas was here all along… always inside of me… thanks to the love I’ve known through so many wonderful years.

If you are far from home this Christmas and feeling down, or even just feeling those general holiday blues hiding the spirit from you today… may you too find that Christmas is always with you, like an old blanket, a new peng-bird or just the necessary smidge of insight into your own heart. May you know the love that comes from those things and always remember the cherished moments in life that put the ‘special’ into your holidays. May you know a wonderful Christmas… wherever you are.


Maria Spagnolo said...

Merry Christmas...!!

Christmas came by fast.. now let's prepare to brace NEW YEAR!

Happy Holidays kimono girl.

from the Philippines..
(found u on photgraphy interests)

Lisa said...

Merry Christmas and sorry it was such a struggle to get there this year. Was thinking of you yesterday (if that makes you feel any better, or closer to home.) Now forget about Christmas and get ready for the New Year - that's a holiday that sure to bring you happiness. (And if it doesn't, I suggest drinking, heavily if you must.)