When I first came to Japan I was horrified that no one acknowledged Christmas whatsoever and it was only in the churches that small gatherings of people somberly attended candlelight services on Christmas Eve. Nowadays the Japanese marketing world has changed things quite a bit but sometimes I think of Christmas past nostalgically. These days Christmas illuminations shine out, stores play Christmas music from just before Halloween, hotels offer romantic meals and services for young couples. In the supermarket the meat department is packed with roasted chicken legs and a girl dressed in a Santa suit sells decorated Christmas cakes stacked high on the table. But nary a person even realizes Christmas and Jesus are related.
This morning I did crosswalk duty as usual but got very little response from my "Merry Christmas!" greetings. The kids are just trying to get through today because winter vacation starts TOMORROW for them! (And it was touch and go for that even what with all the school days off because of influenza this year.)
On the other hand, I had a wonderful Christmas Eve last night. A student drove out from the next city over to bring me a box of chocolates which was ever so nice of her. And I loved the card she enclosed. SO Japanese! I wonder if you can see the details in this card. Santas pulling the "Christmas tree" in Japanese festival fashion with ornaments of cranes and cherry trees and Mt. Fuji at the top as a star.
And just as I was leaving the house for the Christmas Eve service (and realizing that I hadn't baked cookies as I often do) a package arrived special delivery from a blog friend, Yuki. Yuki (from Maryland) had offered to send me some patchwork patterns and I took her up on the offer. But wait! This box is much too big for a few sheets of patterns! (And the price of mailing! Whew, I hope Yuki didn't swoon when she went to the post office! Mailing to Japan is a killer, let me tell you!) I ripped open the box right there and then and out tumbled the patterns and candy for my English kids (that is where the weight came) and Christmas books for me to enjoy and some fancy chocolate truffles! Yuki wrote that I was to enjoy the truffles alone but they were too beautiful and TOO MANY for my waistline and so I took the truffles with me to the Christmas Eve service.
And at church, while my Japanese rendition of the Christmas pageant story was only so-so, Y-kun, the little boy that drives everyone crazy, came to the Christmas Eve service! What a surprise and a blessing! He sat next to me and was mesmerized by the candle set before him during the candle service, and he held my hand through the whole thing! I do hope God touched his heart last night.
Afterwards we all ate crackers and packaged cookies and Yuki-san's truffles which were especially appreciated by the evening visitors. Hmm! A taste of America! Thank you, Yuki-san! I grabbed three truffles for myself but it was your gift that set a smile on everyone's faces!
Let's see. Tetsu's vest fit him and though some reknitting may be required (I'll see if I can get him to model it later this week) that was also a success.
I went to bed early and put aside my Kindle for some reading from the Christmas books Yuki-san sent.
I think I'll sit tight today and eat my truffles and drink coffee and enjoy my good book.
"So the people went away
to eat and drink at a festive meal,
to share gifts of food,
and to celebrate with great joy
because they had heard God's words
and understood them."
New Living Translation