I know, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet!
But, the thing is... we've got to get started on it a bit early. One, the relatives are coming. Makoto is having what is known in Japan as a Shichigosan (7-5-3) in a bit more than a week. I'll go into more details about it later, but mainly the idea is for children of ages 7 and 3 for girls, and 5 for boys, go to the shrine to get prayed over for good luck. They also get to wear kimono for the first time.
It's a big deal in other words, so my in-laws will be coming up. And as they are coming up, we're doing two things. One, I am going to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, since they have never had it and since it's been 8 years since I've had it. Two, I am, under protest, getting out the Christmas decorations.
Beloved's folks have been intrigued by our Christmas preparations since I spent a good chunk of change and got myself a nice, US made, Christmas tree (Most Japanese Christmas trees look... well... green pipe cleaners comes to mind. The first one I had in Japan came equipped with light up chili peppers, I ended up feeling like I was celebrating Christmas at Chili's or possibly Taco Bell). Especially since last year when we moved into our new home and we had rigged the house for Christmas lights they have wanted to see it, so I have been asked to do the tree trimming a wee bit earlier than planned.
Actually, it's a bit more than a wee. I have a rather strict set of rules, NO Christmas music till after Thanksgiving and NO decorations/trees should be out until December and if I could work my will, anyone who does else should be boiled in their own pudding and buried at the crossroads with a steak of holly through their heart!
Any case, this time however I must admit that it is unlikely that Beloved's parents would ever make it up here for when we normally do the tree so... just this once... and at least it is after Thanksgiving day.
But, this has pushed back other pre-Christmas events. For example, the annual letter writing to Santa happened last Sunday. Makoto has been giving us ever longer gift lists everyday as he comes up with more and more stuff to ask for (Usually after seeing it on TV) and has been doing so since Halloween. In an effort to end it before they overtake the whole house, we did our Santa letter.
This year was a first though. Makoto wrote it. I helped him with writing the draft, but the final letter is all in Makoto's handwriting, which is pretty good for a 5-year-old. It's currently waiting for Santa Post to open back up in Canada before being sent away.
The other thing that happened was the buying of the ornaments. One of the traditions of my childhood was that each year, my sister and I would get one ornament. My mother always explained it as a way of making sure that when we got older and moved away and finally had Christmas trees of our own, our trees would be filled with ornaments that had meaning. They would be things that we had treasured and had since our childhood.
And she was right, in Nevada are my Christmas ornaments, waiting for the time when I can finally finish shipping everything over to Japan. And I miss them as many of them have very special memories attached to them. I admit, some I probably wouldn't want to put out any more (The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one that reads Cowabunga! Merry Chritmas Dude! on it comes to mind), but many I would. I miss hearing Mr. Spock saying "Shuttlecraft to Enterprise, shuttlecraft to Enterprise. Spock here. Happy Holidays. Live long and Prosper."
Since the boys were born, I have kept up the tradition. Both boys got a first ornament for their first Christmas, and both have ones with picture frames with photos from that moment. What has been hard was that, well, Japan doesn't really do special ornaments. They do have Christmas trees, yes, but not things like Hallmark Keepsakes. Instead, they go for generic balls.
Thankfully, I found a company that does do Hallmark and even better, ships to Japan. So the last few years minus last year when I was stateside, I've been ordering from them and haven't been disappointed. This year however the tree is going up early, so we had to order early.
Hikaru... Oh boy. We flipped through a few pages with Hikaru getting excited about Snoopy and other ornaments till he saw it. It was the Lionel Steam Engine based off the old Nutcracker Express toys that just about every boy hopped to see skirting the tree come Christmas morn many moons ago. And he, Hikaru, MUST have it. It didn't matter what else I pointed out, his demand was always "SL! SL! SL! SL!"
They arrived yesterday, which was a bit of a problem. Makoto has this Christmas ornament thing down. He knows what they are and that they belong on the tree. Hikaru however...
"Hikaru, that's not a toy. It's an ornament."
"No, Hikaru. Look, Jiji and Baba (Beloved's parents) are coming next week, then you'll get to put it on the tree, ok?"
"Ok." Two seconds later, "SL!"
This morning was just a repeat with Hikaru loudly complaining that the SL was no longer where he saw it last (Daddy has hidden it with the rest of the ornaments).
Somehow I think that when it comes time to trim the tree, the old song "Do you hear what I hear?" will be answered with "SL!"