Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas - Day 1 - Traditions

Over the past few months, as my relationship has developed with U, and a number of my Japanese friends have remarked - either jokingly or with relief - that this likely means I'll be here for the long run, I have started reading the blogs of a number of foreign women married to Japanese men and raising bi-cultural kids in Japan. I'm certainly not anywhere ready to take any vows, but it has got me to thinking about the possibility of that future for me. Reading through past posts (can you tell I'm procrastinating from the thesis?!) written by these women I've realized just how difficult it can be to celebrate occasions and continue traditions important to only one parent.

Since I'll be spending my first Christmas in Japan (thesis is due January 13, not conducive to trans-Pacific travel!), and U, who has never celebrated Christmas before, and I will be spending our first Christmas together, I began to think about the traditions I want to hold on to, and some new ones I want to start.

Growing up, Christmas was a day of family. When I was very young my parents and I would fly to Vancouver to spend the holidays with my father's family. We moved to Vancouver the summer before I started grade one, and I still remember my excitement of living permanently in a city that for me was full of good food, presents, and grandparents and other relatives (I was the first grandchild) spoiling me rotten. We continued to spend Christmas with my dad's family, which grew to include my two younger cousins as well as aunts, an uncle, and my grandparents. Every year we'd gather at my grandparents, then in later years at my aunt and uncle's place. After my grandmother passed away, however, and my cousins and I grew up, getting all of us together for Christmas began to happen less and less. The past few years its been just my dad and I - with family friends joining us for dinner. This year will be only my second one away from Canada and my dad, my first being 5 years ago when I was volunteering in India.

This year, with my thesis hanging over me, I don't have a lot of time, but I don't want the holiday to slip by without recognition, so I'm plotting to include as many traditions as I can. With the cultural collision that is bound to happen, if they end up coming out looking nothing like what I'm used to, that will only make it all the more memorable - like door-to-door caroling at the homes of Hindu friends in the warmth of an Indian evening dressed in a red and green sari and reindeer antlers! So, stay tuned - while there may not be 12 days of Christmas for me this year, there will at least be a few, and who knows what will happen!

my usual Christmas dinner role - making gravy
Only this time it accompanied fried chicken, had to be enough to feed 40 people,
and I had to try not to stain my festive sari!


  1. I love that picture. My main memory of christmas though was Church with Mr. Ijick. I really wanted a balloon animal. Like a little kid 'eh? I was so impressed with the balloon animals being sold among the 10 000 people who attended outdoor mass. I didn't get a balloon animal though... :) Remember how hard we tried to find a ham or turkey? We almost had one too-- but alas, chicken had to suffice! I made a traditional dinner for my tenants for thanksgiving and told them that we make pretty much the same meal for thanksgiving, christmas and easter. They were not so impressed with my good ol' canadian traditions. So go forth, start your own- just make sure to include lots of sugar, a little spice and all things magical! <3

  2. The dress is exquisite. Despite the apron, the green and red come out really well. Japan is fascinating and I am deeply enamoured of it.

    I would be coming more frequently to this blog.

  3. Anonymous 1 - I don't remember the balloon animals, although you did end up going to a different church for Chrismtas Eve Service that night, didn't you? I had to read your comment a couple of times before I realized that you weren't talking about us searching for balloon turkeys and balloon hams... doh! ;)

    Anonymous 2 - Thanks! In the picture I'm wearing an Indian sari. That particular one is a design that is native to the area where I was living, decorated with little triangles along the edge - which my friends and I decided were Christmas trees! It took us FOREVER to finally track down ones in red and green, but we were soooo excited when we did!

    I'm glad you like Japan so much, and I look forward to hearing from you again!

  4. Christmases were fun for me too with the Munton gang, since I didn't grow up with any Christmas celebrations, despite living in Canada! I know you'll find ways to build up some traditions - and I'll enjoy hearing about them! BTW, can you put up a tree?
    love and hugs,