Although I’ve brought up a lot of humbug over the last week or so, in the end I do enjoy Christmas in Japan, although it comes with a few ghosts.
Ghosts of Christmas Past
One thing I miss in Japan is that almost no one sends presents before Christmas. If they do, we usually keep them hidden. This means there’s no torture from seeing early arriving presents placed under the tree. When I was a kid, we all got good at spatial analysis and investigation and weight versus volume versus internal movement ratios as we picked wrapped presents up and shook them.
A typical conversation:
(Sister and I quietly pick up and shake presents.)
Mom– (from another room) What are you two doing in there?
Me and Sister–Nothing!
Mom–Leave those presents alone.
Me–Sister’s shaking the presents!
Sister– $@#%$ #$%^$^ @#$%$^ #$%%^^!!!
Me–Sister said bad words!
Something like that.
You also had de facto scientific experiments involving psychic ability as you waved your hands over the presents and tried to divine what they were. This improved with experience and you eventually learned which shapes were probably underwear and socks and which were actually something useful like action figures or computer games.
Every now and then a cruel parent or other relative would put socks in a larger box to throw you off.
Ghosts of Christmas Present
Here in the present we don’t have a lot of space and have never had a big tree which means we’ve never had a formal “trim the tree and put up Christmas decorations day”. Also, Christmas is complicated by the New Year’s holiday when relatives hand the girls large sums of cash contained in annoyingly cute envelopes and they go buy whatever they want (after large chunks of it are secured for savings and/or education).
It is also a tradition to explain to our girls that we didn’t actually steal their money, we just “secured it”. (Shut up. You didn’t build that.)
Also, our oldest’s birthday is in mid-January which complicates presents. We’ve not yet (emphasis on yet) been cruel enough to give one present and say it counts for both celebrations, but we’re seriously considering it. This is partly because as presents get smaller, and make a less impressive pile in the morning, they get more expensive. (This is an important formula we need to remember and need to teach the girls about.)
Ghosts of Christmas Future
Someday (hopefully next year) we’d like to get the girls back to the USA for a full blown US Christmas complete with large trees, lots of Christmas lights and several metric tons of food. I also want them to experience the torture of the early presents. (I think there’s a lesson in patience and delayed gratification in there somewhere but I’m not sure I ever learned it and will have a hard time teaching it.)
Until then, God bless you, everyone. And Merry Christmas.