21 December, 2013

Christmas is different when you're away

Christmas away from family, as we've been doing it 12 out of the last 14 years, takes on a different shape than it does in our home country.
Parcels from home are always
a great part of Christmas
when you're away.

In the last few days I've helped a couple of other people prepare surprises for someone else. Both surprises are things that aren't able to be bought in this country. One was being made by someone concerned for a homesick friend. It's been a great privilege to help bring joy to others at this time when hearts can be lonely and longings can go unfulfilled.

Rather than a season full of family, it is a season where we're mindful of family but we spend it largely with our nuclear family and our "adopted" family of friends. We have fond memories of the various people we've shared parts of Christmas (and New Year) with over the years here in Japan. 

It is a season, not so much of excess, but of special treats from home and our own traditions that we've developed in Japan.

On Monday we're looking forward to one of those family traditions. We'll ride to a large ¥100 shop and each buy a present for everyone else. It makes for a fun time of whispering, dodging, and mystery without breaking the bank.

Next year Christmas will be different. We'll be in Australia where the season will feel right, but much of what we do will be like a salute to Christmas past: memories of what Christnas used to be like. Nonetheless it will be a great time for us all. Probably the last Christmas we spend in Australia with all our boys as "boys". By the time next one rolls around we'll have a university student! Wow. 

So, I'm going to savour this one. Unique: the only time we'll have Christmas with 8, 11, and 14 year olds!

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