Sunday, December 23, 2012

The War On Christmas

Yes, there is one.

Oh, I don't mean the silliness the Bill O'Reilly goes off on every year (To be honest, given the mangling that I hear in Japan of "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" I don't care which one I hear just as long as it's actually pronounced right. If I did, I'd probably grab that person and kiss them full on the lips regardless of age, sex, or status. We're talking tongue may be employed here), no I mean a war on, or about, Christmas. For me it's a two front war.

The first front is familiar to anyone with young children, the annual battle in the toy store. As previously mentioned, Christmas in Japan is more for those with young children and young couples. This means that, for the most part, you don't have the insanity that is normal in malls across America during the Christmas shopping season as most people in Japan are not really going bananas buying gifts.

Except parents of course. Japanese children have picked up on this whole Santa thing and by God they expect him in. Those who have out-grown Santa aren't about to take any excuses for lack of presents either. This leads to the familiar battle in the toy store to get THE gift that has been demanded by your beloved children. And yes, it is a war.

You can tell the veterans, the fathers (It's always the fathers. Mothers are usually busy tending to the kids and making dinner so when I do my Christmas shopping for the boys, Toys R Us is filled with a crowd of guys, all of us sharing three things: 1. From our dress we obviously just got off of work. 2. We've been prodded by our beloved partners to go get that whatever instead of heading home to relax. 3. We want to get our present and get out of there as quickly as possible) who have been through this before. We are battle scarred, in our eyes you can see the hard stare of a campaigner who will let nothing and nobody stand between him and the toy that will make his child(ren)s life complete this Christmas. There's an economy of movement, the hard earned knowledge of knowing where this toy is located in Toys R Us, how to get it and get out with the minimum fuss and God help the fool who gets in their way.

You can also tell the new parents, the ones whom this will be their first battle of the toys, they are the ones who have a worried expression on their faces, the ones who waffle in front of the display, hesitating on which toy is the best one for their child. They read all the labels, agonizing over their choices. They also usually have track-marks down their back from where they were run over by a veteran.

This year was no exception, for me. I knew what I wanted, having the foresight to get Makoto to 'draft' his letter to Santa, which I then stole (I mean the draft, Makoto's actual letter got mailed off) which meant I had a pretty nice list to go off of in terms of toys that they wanted and the ones that they actually asked Santa for (So Santa can come through). I knew where those toys where, how to get to them, and was in and out in less than 30 minutes with a shopping cart full of gifts and stocking stuffers.

The only thing that threw me was Beloved's request at the last minute that I get a pair of boots for Hikaru since I had to find the right size and style.

The second front on the War on Christmas is the yearly battle to get my wife to tell me what she wants for Christmas.

And yes, this IS a battle. Every. Single. Year. Every year I ask to get some ideas and every year it's "I don't know, give me more time." and thus I wait and watch as the calendar advances. I beg, I plead, I threaten to unleash her sons with 2,000 yen (About $20) in a store and let them buy her gift (Hope she likes GoBusters!), I threaten to go to Don Quixote (A Japanese version of Spencer's Gifts) and get her a "Happy Evening" gift pack (I'm sure you can fill in just what might be in that yourself). I withhold Christmas cookies and still I get nothing.

Or coffee. Every year, driven to distraction, she finally announces she just wants coffee beans.

Now the problem with this is that a. Coffee is hardly a present, it's something you get at the grocery store. Also, since she has a mother and sister-in-law who also are demanding gift ideas for her, I tell them coffee. We don't need 10 pounds of it, we don't drink THAT much coffee! So around and around  we go with me demanding and Beloved stating coffee till finally she'll come up with something.

These somethings are almost always expensive. This year it was a blu-ray recorder, not a bad idea, except that we need one that is region free for DVDs. They are around $500. No, not in the budget. So how about an electric sweeper? At $300? No. Besides, I'd rather save the money and get a Roomba. So how about a wall heater?

A wall heater you say, as I did?

Yes, she wants a wall heater. Why? To make sure that the laundry room doesn't freeze. Of course, we already have one and it's not for her, it's for the house. so, no.

Finally, three days before Christmas, she finally comes up with an idea. I need to take her to the shoe store to get some half boots. Ah, thinks I, not too bad... Until she zeros in on a pair that, yes are beautiful, yes, look good on her, yes, are what she wants, but are also a bit pricey.

But this is what she wants, this or coffee.

I might have won the battle of the toy store but  think I lost the war.

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