This, the shortest day of the year, has truly turned out to be one of my favorites of 2009. I cannot give one definite reason for my sudden raise in spirits, only that I have been blessed so incredibly much over the past 12 months, and it is still so, so remarkable to me that I have only known about Japan for one year, let alone been here for a third of that. I didn’t even realize it, but yesterday was my four-month mark. It came and went without me ticking it off like I had the first three. I think that says a lot about where I am as an exchange student that I am finally taking the days as they come, rather than measuring my experience by how many I have under my belt.
Yet perhaps what made today so special was the fact that I spent the morning back in Minnesota. My family Christmas (just my dad, mom, and sister) was this morning, or their Monday night, and I was able to Skype with them the entire time. For those of you who don’t know, Skype is an incredible (and amazingly, free) Internet form of video chat that works anywhere you have a connection and computer camera. As Mom said this morning, “Skype saved our Christmas!” And as Dad said when we were saying our good-byes, “Do you have any idea how much this visit would have cost us 20 years ago? Hundreds of dollars!!” So Skype was like a little Christmas present all in itself.
But anyway, I was able to “sit” at the dinner table, in the living room, by the fire, and near the Christmas tree all while actually snuggled up in my futon here in Nakagawa. I had as great a Christmas celebration as ever. I got fantastic presents and the time I spent with my family was truly the little “fix” I needed to get by the next few days. I am thrilled to have made it this far, because as Samantha Weaver [http://samantharomaweaver.blogspot.com/] told me this past week (also via Skype, coincidentally), “As fantastic and wonderful as the first part of the year is for most exchange students, to be honest, in the back of our minds we are really telling ourselves, ‘Get through Christmas, just get through Christmas!’ Because that is when we miss our families, could really use a break from this exciting, but very stressful, new life we’ve made for ourselves in a foreign country, and are just plan missing what we’ve had.” Well I don’t remember exactly what Sam said, but it was close to that = ) Haha, you get her point and I totally agree with it. So I am happy, and proud of us, that we have made it to Christmas Break and are now able to enjoy it rather than dread it, as I had once feared I would.
The rest of my day was spent listening to Christmas music, wrapping presents, and giving the Kobayashi’s, the Miyazaki’s, and my host parents their Christmas gifts (which all of them loved by the way Mom, so you did good shopping!), opening my present from my host parents which turned out to be a pottery cup from the famous Tochigi pottery city of Mashiko, and finally packing for my trip to Sendai and Ishinomaki where I will meet my past Rotary brother Ryota and his family! I leave tomorrow morning and won’t be back until the 27th, but only for one night. I will try to post a couple photos, but I will likely not be able to blog until after New Years! I am going to be visiting Rotary friends, enjoying the holidays, and preparing for my first ever Japanese New Years. So I apologize for not being able to write, but I hope each and every one of you has a very JAPANESE Christmas: By that I mean…
I wish you a good Shogunate of a family with whom to celebrate,
And that your presents are fit for the grandest of emperors, while your house looks like his great royal palace.
With luck your Christmas will be as snowy as the top of Mt. Fuji,
And you'll find some mistletoe for your beautiful geisha wife.
I pray there's less drama at home then on the stage of kabuki,
Meaning there's no ninjas throwing stars at your killer sushi feast.
I hope your friends are packed in like a Tokyo subway,
And the fire's got your cheeks toasty like a big shot of sake.
Make sure to take a lot of photos be they Nikon or Sony,
And always remember to show your holiday cheer with a nice peace sign for the camera.
So be happy, don't think hara-kiri think hello kitty!
And enjoy this your most Japanese of Christmases
Sincerely signed your skillful SAMurai