Here we are.
The end of 2009.
I am so glad. Awful year for me. Next year can only be better.
I am taking down Christmas decorations, feeding Okaasan breakfast, packing for England tomorrow, clearing snow outside the front door and catching an afternoon movie with a friend to give me strength for...New Year's Eve alone with Okaasan!!!!
Oh My God. (If I had one.)
The ski school haven't cancelled Yujiro's January 1st ski lessons in the mountains above Otaru. So that means he won't come home tonight. And I have to give this old Japanese lady her end-of-year Ohogatsu dinner and feeling.....
New Year/Oshogatsu is a big deal in Japan.
Special TV - a terrible singing competition on TV where past-its and now-its sing everything from ballards to hip-hop.
Poor Okaasan! She has to spend this special evening...with me. There is no chance this time that she won't know what day it is -TV has been yammering on and on about it since first light.
Has she made any preparations for it? Not sure. There may be a whole Oshogatsu feast of noodles, deep fried shrimps and miso soup hiding down there under the heated table blanket - but I doubt it.
She DID go out yesterday and get an Oshogatsu door decoration (not using the same one for 5 years like me!).
Last year she shopped like crazy - all the special foods to make New Year meals. And Yujiro and I supervised her 3 hours of cooking in our tiny kitchen as she tried to remember a million times about the soy sauce.
This year feels different. It's an indication of a decline in a her dementia. Or should that be "progress" of her dementia?
She still goes out and shops for random stuff. She must have been in crazy-supermarkets in the past few days with all the Oshogatsu ingredients screamingly on sale...but I don't think she has planned to make any of it.
Yesterday I bought pre-cooked umani - a tofu/vegetable dish - and seaweed things and black beans. There is soba noodles and fried shrimp topping for tonight's dinner. Enough to make it feel like an Oshogatsu dinner without giving me a heart-attack of preparation stress.
Maybe - inspired by all the TV Oshogatsu cheeriness - suddenly she'll jump up from the TV watching and start work with the soy sauce, veggies and tofu in the kitchen....but I'm guessing not.
All over Japan families will be settling down in front of the TV singing and a bowl of noodles. Poor Okaasan will maybe get a phone call from a brother, or even the errant older son....but her main entertainment tonight will be an English woman.
She came to my Christmas - where food and customs like crackers and decorations made a Friday-night in Japan special for me. Now it's my turn to give her Oshogatsu.
But I have a nice bottle of Piat D'or in the fridge for when I get to the end of this day.
Onwards to 2010!