Christmas is considered to be the most wonderful time of the year. This may be true in most countries, however in other places this is not the case.
I find that Christmas in Japan is missing something. Yes, there are beautiful lights, and decorations line shop windows and homes. Holiday music plays in shops with Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is You’ playing on an endless repeat.
Yet, despite all of this, I find that Christmas in Japan lacks the Christmas spirit. What is the Christmas spirit exactly? Well, honestly, it is hard to say. It is a feeling you get during the month of December. It is a contagious warmth that spreads all around and somehow makes even the most pessimistic of us a bit more cheerful. It is the same feeling that you get when you see children laughing or a loved one smiling. It is that unexplainable feeling of pure happiness.
When I fly home, this is the type of warmth I experience as soon as I walk through the door. My dog comes flying out of nowhere and tackles me in the hope of getting a good pet and belly rub. The living room and kitchen is filled with the smell of freshly baked goods and warm cider. My mother is teary eyed as she engulfs me in a hug that fills me with absolute love.
If I am lucky, my family will have already arrived. They will be scattered throughout my family home and the noise is endless. In Japan, I live alone so it is usually quiet. However, at my home during the holidays, the house is filled with people and the noise is deafening.
There are cousins arguing, aunts gossiping and uncles drinking and playing a game of Mahjong. Meanwhile, the children run around like little heathens while someone older tries to round them up and make sure they do not cause the entire household to turn into complete and utter chaos.
It is quite rowdy and terribly noisy, but this is home and I love it! At some point, my cousin will beg everyone to go caroling and we will all march outside and do our best not to mangle classic Christmas hits with the inevitable ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ making another appearance.
After that, it is back to my home where there will be a feast spread out on the table and everyone will gather around and hold hands to say a short prayer. It is at this time that I truly feel blessed because I can actually feel the love of my family surrounding the table.
In the evening, we exchange gifts and watch as my mother saves the wrapping paper because she is a crafty person and thinks she can recycle it in some way. She does, because she is honestly very creative.
Christmas is a precious time for me and I wish I could go back yearly to enjoy the holiday with family. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive time to travel so I am usually here in Japan celebrating alone. This year, perhaps I will try out the Japanese tradition of eating KFC and buying a Christmas cake.
contagious (adj.) ? can easily be spread to others
pessimistic (adj.) ? having a negative feeling or attitude
engulf (v) ? to swallow completely; be completely wrapped up in
heathen (n) ? an uncivilized person
rowdy (adj.) ? too energetic, loud and unable to be controlled
mangle (v) ? to destroy and twist into something beyond recognition