24 December, 2012

Home again

We arrived home about 2pm and things have settled down enough now at 5, to be able to spend time on the computer and write a little bit here.

I've scanned through the couple of hundred emails that arrived in our absence and dealt with the most urgent ones (at least I hope I have). Many of the emails are heart warming season's greetings. We'll wade through those at our leisure in the coming days. It's always good to hear from people we don't see often. Many of them receive our news 11 times a year in their inbox, but we often only hear from them annually. We love this time of year!

We've had a fairly relaxing holiday. We skiied, ice skated, dined at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, read, played Risk, did jigsaws, walked and played outside (in close to zero degree C temps).

It was the new thing that we did that has helped it to be more relaxing for us parents. The night before we left, I sat down with the boys and wrote a list of the main jobs that needed to be done the next day to get us out of our house here in Tokyo and into the holiday house. It was an easy step from that to doing up a roster for setting the table and washing up for the whole week. As a result I've only washed up a couple of times. Repeating the same thing last night resulted in some responsible boys this morning who were meaningfully engaged in helping us get home.

I can't say it was without hitches. For example. This morning it got to the point where there were only a couple of jobs left. The house had been cleaned and the heaters turned off, so the boys were "out in the cold" literally, while we turned the water off, emptied the pipes, put antifreeze in the pipes and toilet etc.. They weren't happy for 45 minutes or more. The neighbours heard plenty of argument from this imperfect missionary family.

More about our holidays later in the week, after I've had time to download some photos. Unfortunately there isn't photographic evidence of my skiing prowess. Or maybe I'm fortunate in that regards, as it would have revealed my lack of prowess as a first-timer.

Tonight we're heading off to the Christmas Eve service at our church. They don't have a Christmas morning service, it is a work day for most. We've never made it to the Christmas Eve service, but we're feeling bold tonight.

Our kids have noticed that Japan isn't really Christmassy. I don't think they really understand how different the culture is here than in Australia, in terms of Christian traditions. There are less Christians here than in Australia. But pretty much everyone in Australia celebrates Christmas whether they are Christians or not. Not so here.

Christmas has various connections in the wider culture, but they mostly run along the lines of eating KFC on Christmas Eve with your beloved and putting up Christmas decorations. Most shops have Christmas carols playing. Not much present giving happens. Some shops had people dressed up as Santas or Reindeer in the last week. Apparently one of the Pizza Delivery companies had their deliverers wearing Santa costumes today, on their motorised scooters!

So, back to our house. Tomorrow will be a quiet day for us. Our just-us family Christmas usually entails opening presents after breakfast, Christmas cake for morning tea, and a hot traditional lunch. The rest of the day is pretty quiet except for various Skyping times with family in Australia. This is our 11th Christmas in Japan (out of 17 we've celebrated together as a couple). It is our "normal".

Have a blessed and meaningful Christmas.


Judie said...

I'm sure the boys appreciated being given some responsibility, especially with your listening to their input. Helps them feel 'grown up'.
It's a pity they couldn't help with the antifreeze as well. Still, if they've been mostly good, out of routine, I think you've done well.

Wendy said...

Problem with the antifreeze is that we were unsure what we were doing ourselves. And it really was only a one person job that in the end took about 3 minutes.

But I'm sure you're quite right about being given responsibility. They groaned at various times, but in the end were surprised by how easy the jobs were and how competent they could be!