Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Present

SEASON'S GREETINGS
from Temple Valley



Where it just wouldn’t be Christmas without chicken (most often fried) for dinner and the traditional Christmas cake("glorified strawberry shortcake")...



and of course the man with a cap and suit of red...




Sanders Claus!





Which I guess explains the tradition of chicken for dinner. The Colonel's resemblance to Santa also makes things a bit confusing. 

Now Santa Claus, not the Sanders Claus, does visit on Christmas and typically leaves one present for children. That is, up until they stop believing in him or until they reach puberty, whichever comes first. In either case, comes Christmas morn it’s still up and off to school (and work) because for most people here it’s just a regular day. Even though its practically business as usual, it's still...


A Magical Season                                                                   
I think we live in a magical place and this is why: things disappear during the night. The first time I noticed it was about a year ago. I had just made myself a cup of fresh brewed coffee that I was about to sip down with some delicious vanilla cream sandwich cookies that I had bought the previous night and had been looking forward to enjoying all day long. I opened up the cupboard where I had carefully stored them away, when to my shock and dismay I discovered nothing but a sad vacuous space where my cookies once lied. At first I thought I was mistaken about buying the cookies but then it happened again, and again, and again. One night, a quart of milk and a package of cookies, gone. The next night, a bowl of tangerines, vanished. Some nights it would seem like just a minor foray into the kitchen cupboard to knock off a package or two of instant ramen noodles, others nights would be an all out blitzkrieg. The wreckage that washed up on the shores of the kitchen sink the next day told a tale of carnage beyond all imagination. Dotting the surface of the water might lay an empty yogurt container, the sinking vessels that once held the leftovers from last night’s dinner, and floating crumbs of a completely devoured loaf of bread. With virtually nothing left to fill the breakfast table, these were truly the morning’s that tried men’s souls. After discussing the mysterious events that occurred in the dark with all the likely suspects (my two sons, 18 and 10 years-old), there was only one reasonable conclusion I could come up with to explain the Bermuda triangle that had become our kitchen: the house was inhabited by fairies. I’m not the only one who believes in fairies here. My ten year old son Jiro relies on them. He recently lost another one of his baby teeth and without giving it a second thought stored it under his pillow before going to sleep (he’s super afraid of crows, bees, and other flying creatures but winged pixies messing around underneath his pillow during the night, no problemo). Tonight, as we were walking home from the train station together, he automatically put his hand in mine as he often still does and proceeded to ask me “Why does Santa wear that red suit if nobody sees him, why doesn’t he just wear regular clothes?” Then he quick realized he was holding my hand and jerked it away, before looking around to see if anyone noticed. He’s been asking a lot about the existence of Santa, more than ever this year. I’m sure his belief in the man in the red suit along with the tooth fairy will disappear one of these nights too. Still, no matter what, I believe it will always be a season of mystery and wonder. In fact I was cleaning up the house today in preparation for Christmas when my eldest son, Ichiro, emerged from his room bearing a pile of empty potato chip bags, milk cartons, wrappers of all varieties and a stack of dishes I had given up for broken or just plain missing-forever months ago (which kind of burst my fairy theory). He was spontaneously cleaning up his room! It was truly a mysterious wonder to behold. God bless them and God bless us everyone.  May your stockings be filled with wonder and your Christmas be full of hope.                                                                                                                   



Here's Wishing for Peace on Earth and Romance in Japan!




Colin Joyce from the Telegraph writes that in Japan Christmas "has been reinvented as the most romantic time of the year. To find out the "true" meaning of Christmas in Japan try reading: "Why Japanese Girls Want Christmas Romance."

* I haven't been in every Japanese household but I think it's safe to say that this one on the Encyclopedia Britannica site is pretty atypical.

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