Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas just sneaks right in.

How did THAT happen?

I had a good Christmas! Two days early.

Roast Chicken prepping  a la Jamie Oliver mode. Stuff a lemon in the bum.

Veggies a bit burned. Didn't baste enough.

BUT! GREAT taste!

December 23 is the Japanese Emperor's birthday - and a public holiday. This is handy for all the Japanese who want a day off work to celebrate a Christian festival with shopping and eating and drinking. I'm guessing that 99% of the Emperor's subjects don't know why it is a day off - but are very grateful anyway! I think there will be an out-pouring of grief when the Emperor dies and December 23 isn't a public holiday anymore...although maybe it will be renamed National Snail Day or something in honor of one of the Emperor's hobbies.

This year it was a Friday, so Christmas Eve (very important date/eating/shopping time in Japan) and then Christmas Day (not so important) are all over a long weekend.

Yujiro was away at 6 am skiing, so after I thawed out from cleaning 10 cm of snow off the car for him (years of training as a ski girlfriend, I know the way to his heart)...I spent the morning in my bathrobe, buried under cats...watching America's Next Top Model

Escaped Lunch with Okaasan by prepping the stuff for her in flasks on the kitchen table and walking off to have curry and read the newspaper at my fave Indian restaurant.
Came home with the intention of getting Okaasan to go walking herself, but had to wait until 2.30 pm when she woke up - then went into persuading overdrive that NO IT'S NOT ICY NOW and YOU CAN GO OUT SAFELY!
It HAS been dangerous for over 2 weeks now, so it us understandable that she can't switch gears easily. In her mind Snow=Dangerous, whereas in fact Ice=Dangerous, and Snow=Safe Walking.

Finally, at 3.30 pm as the snow started again...Okaasan got dressed and ready and went out for the first time in 6 days. And I could get into her room to take out the dirty laundry and clear the newspapers and trash and yukky stuff going mouldy by the heated carpet (I think it was a food packet from a week ago).
That nice wooden box for recycle newspaper my student made? Okaasan has already started draping under pants on it....there IS no hope.

And then. Christmas dinner.

We weren't sure about Yujiro's ski teaching schedule over the holiday - so decided to be like lots of other Japanese households and enjoy our Christmas dinner on December I'd impulse bought a whole chicken at the supermarket on my way to work 2 days ago...and so....after Internet surfing for help I settled on it'll-be-easy-darlin' British cook Jamie Oliver's Perfect Roast Chicken recipe.
And you know what? It worked! Delicious. Stuffing lemons inside a chicken makes a big difference.
Great! Thanks be to Jamie. British panicky cooks turn for help to the 3 Kitchen Gods: Delia Smith, Jamie Oliver or Keith Floyd. This year Jamie came thru for me big time :-))

Yujiro got home at 6 pm with the excellent news that he'll be ski teaching close to the city for the next 4 days and thus home every night. And he brought cheap sparkling wine.
Okaasan got home about 6.30 pm, safely proving to herself that outside IS safe to walk alone...I hope she gets OUT there now and starts exercising.

And I finally admitted defeat in my week-long hunt for my parents' Christmas tablecloth, that I brought from the UK a year ago with nostaligic plans to use here in Japan. I have no idea where I put it! (it will emerge in time for summer I am sure...). Settled instead for another tablecloth from the UK, plus my step-mum's rose tablemats...all somehow joining Christmas dinners at dad's house over the years with now and here in Sapporo, Japan and Christmas dinner with my now family - Yujiro and Okaasan. 
For better, for worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health - they ARE my family now....

At 7 pm the three of us sat down to the chicken feast and LOVED it.

Okaasan even asked for toast to help mop up the gravy!!! (maybe cos I'd actually added a spoon of soy sauce to the gravy to make it Japanesey for her....?).

And just as we were finishing....the doorbell rang and a poor junior staff member of the Suzuki garage was there with a small box of chocolates, yet more sparkling wine and a 2012 calender - ALL in the hope that we WILL buy a new car from his company in 2012. This is so Japanese...can't imagine a garage in England sending staff round with chocs and wine to soften you up to buy a car from them!!! 
I'd better go to a Toyota and a Mazda garage and express car-buying thoughts...

After that, fell into the armchair and ate alcohol-infused chocolates (Thanks Takako in Shin-Sapporo!).

And that my friends...was a very, happy December 23 Christmas! the living room there are all sorts of boxes awaiting me that the postman and delivery people have brought this week....I am saving those for tomorrow.
So I'll just have ANOTHER Christmas on Dec. 25th. :-))
Maybe I'll find the tablecloth in time for that.

* And....that donating year-end-party monies to a Tohoku volunteer group idea - the first lot of students said they were happy to do it and the volunteer group said a surprised "thankyou" via Facebook...and so I hope some of my Christmas cheer is seeping southwards to earthquake/tsunami-hit areas.

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas!

    I've done the lemon inside a chicken before too...I don't know Jaime's recipe, but the one I used told me to quarter the chicken lengthwise and then rub it with garlic. Yum!

    This year we're buying ours already cooked.