Friday, 26 December 2008

Merry Christmas Day

So this is Christmas.
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

Thankyou John Lennon. One of my favorite Christmas songs...but kind of depressing lyrics actually.

Oyomesan did Christmas. And she's feeling pretty pleased with herself. (I think the wine is helping!)

I was doing it for me of course. Even the most non-traditional ex-pats get all misty-eyed about tradition when it's Christmas. Something that you wouldn't dream of doing usually (probably wearing or eating) suddenly takes on great sentimental significance because it reminds you of Christmases past.

He and I did Christmas morning at home. Late breakfast, present opening, silly holiday TV, party planning and last-minute vegetable shopping. We also bought chemical ice packs for his knee and I cooked okaasan fish/rice/soup at 11 am.

And here's an interesting thing: in Japan fish are always served with the head facing left! Isn't that amazing. There is actually a rule about that! Okaasan told me. Because of course I served the fish facing right. She said it looked strange for Japanese. But she was laughing and joking about it, she is pretty good about accepting that the gaijin-oyomesan will sometimes do strange things.

A few years ago I served HIM New Year's rice cake...on December 30 or 31. Usually it's kept and displayed on the house shrine, and then eaten after January 11th! Even he was pretty stunned to see it BEFORE New Year, and he isn't at all bothered by traditions.

Anyway. I did a pretty good job of doing the traditional Christmas Day here.

I cleared/cleaned the party room, ironed the table cloth, set the table, decorated the room, found the napkins, peeled the potatoes, cut the veggies, made the stuffing, picked up the 2 roasted chickens from downtown, lit the candles....threw on a party dress...CHRISTMAS!

It was a strange, warm Christmas Day. We didn't even need coats or gloves when we went out. The other ski teachers dropped by at 6 pm with his ski stuff and we stood outside chatting with them. Amazing for Hokkaido at the end of December.

At 6.30 pm one of our friends came to dinner, okaasan arrived in slightly smarter than usual clothes and the 4 of us opened the cheap champagne and sat down for...Christmas dinner.

Looks pretty good doesn't it? Thankyou to Paul's Cafe, near Sapporo Station! Two delicious rotesserie chickens. Everything was great, although maybe I should have done a gravy/sauce.

But basically good. The xmas CDs played, the candles flickered and the potatoes were passed. Okaasan seemed to enjoy it, tucking into the chicken I'd cut for her and drinking the cheap champagne. We even had a small Christmas pudding - a gift from one of my students - and a small cake!
Just look at it! All dark fruit and nuts. Very English, not like these cream and strawberry imposters that Japanese cake shops sell!

Finally at 9 pm our friend went to get a taxi home - in a snow storm that had arrived while we were eating. He took okaasan back to her apartment, and I ate the rest of the Christmas pudding and finished the wine.

It was a nice Christmas. I enjoyed it. I think we all enjoyed it. Okaasan is always talking about how she used to cook traditional New Year food for all the office staff that her husband would invite over to the family house - so I'm sure she appreciates the work that goes into getting it all together and on the table. But it was mainly for me. I need to see a traditional Christmas dinner to make this Thursday feel like Christmas. And then I remember Christmases in England. Way back when!

A moment of peace.

Actually under the table his leg was playing up. He'd taken off his leg brace to put on jeans, and after 2 hours his leg was a bit painful again. He could feel more blood inside. He has an appointment today at the hospital to get the results of the MRI scan to tell us if it's more serious cartilage damage.

And I just telephoned my Dad and Step-mum in England. She fell again on their Christmas morning and has spent all day in bed. He has a cold. They both sound bad. And I'm all the way here in Japan playing at cooking Christmas dinners. I feel a long way away from my English family.

And there's a snow storm outside. Back to reality.

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