It's become a tradition for me to spend a good two or three days in the kitchen baking and cooking for Christmas various treats and dishes (Thankfully for my sanity, the Emperor of Japan himself helps in this. December 23rd is the emperor's birthday and thus a holiday that is usually perfectly placed in order to let me get the bulk of the baking done). The usual range is eggnog (made from eggs, no mix here), gingerbread men, sugar cookie cutouts, snowball cookies, and cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning with a New York style cheesecake for our Christmas cake on Christmas eve. This year I added fudge and clam chowder to the mix as well, though I got to move the cheesecake till after Christmas.
Now, oddly enough, excepting the cinnamon rolls and clam chowder, none of the above figures in how I would celebrate Christmas back home in the States. I would bring home Cinabons for Christmas morning though and in my family, Mom's clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl is the dinner for Christmas Eve, but in terms of cookie production, it just never happened. Let me hasten to state this isn't due to my mother being a bad cook (And no, I am not just stating that because she reads this blog some times), but more of a problem of single mother and way too much to do around Christmas to spend the day making cookies. That said, I had a number of relatives and friends who do/did the whole Christmas treat overload every Christmas and had no qualms about sharing. We didn't bake them, but we sure did eat them.
Which is more or less why I now spend a two days producing massive amounts of cookies. I simply missed the tastes of home during Christmastime and wanted to replicate them as much as possible. Once Beloved tasted the buggers, she got hooked. Since she likes to share, we now have a horde of family/friends/co-workers (I take a plate into my school) who also have started to look forward to Christmas baking.
But it has become more than being a bit homesick for the holidays, it's become making Christmas traditions for Makoto and Hikaru. As I previously mentioned, Christmas in Japan is not Christmas in the US. I'm sure many parents feel the tug every year of wanting to re-create their childhood Christmases for their own children, to re-capture the magic, to make memories, to... have that family Christmas. I am no different in this, but I am faced with a problem of being in Japan. My family is half way around the globe, the culture is very different, we lack any number of things that I took for granted back at home, but I still want to make Christmas happen for the boys in at least a semi-American sense.
|Don't let squirrels happen to YOUR Christmas!|
The only relative who was usually involved was my grandmother on my mother's side who lived 45 minutes away, meaning my sister and I would have to wait until she woke up and came to our house before opening presents, a horrible torture for children and one that felt like it lasted somewhere between a lifetime and a day or eternity.
|According to Beloved's friends, this looks like a storybook|
But as for now, the gifts have been unwrapped, our tree is now dark, and Christmas goes back to sleep till next year. After this small taste of America, we're getting ready for an extra-large helping of Japanese, because New Year's is upon us and if I was busy as all heck for Christmas, Beloved has her turn at bat as we head towards Oshogatsu.
|This is how you know Christmas was well spent, two happy kids and a BIG mess|