Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Merry Christmas!

Christmas isn't over yet, but it's already been an awesome one.
On Saturday night I called Helaine (woke her up, actually!) to wish her a happy baptism. We talked for a bit, which was nice since I’ve probably missed her most out of all of my WAY “kids.” She mentioned that everyone was going to her place after the baptism, so the next morning (Christmas Eve) I called again and talked to all of the newly baptized, plus Pearl and Jeremy.
Then the family called about an hour later and I got to talk to Nathan, mom and dad. ^_^

AB and RB came over around 1pm and dropped off gifts for everyone. Unfortunately RB was still sick, but it was good to see them, even for a bit.

Then T, Kand R came over to decorate sugar and gingerbread cookies for the children and staff at an orphanage in Shichinohe.

Side note: K and R are absolutely amazing. They baked enough cookies, fudge and toffee for everyone at the orphanage, plus they made all the icing needed to decorate the cookies! Considering that there are ~68 children (ranging in age from 4 years old to high school aged) and ~27 staff members, it's a truly amazing feat! They made well over 200 cookies with only a dinky toaster oven!! It boggles the mind. I mean, it took me 4 hours to make ~60 cookies, and those were just chocolate chip (drop cookies)! But to make over 200 cut out cookies... @_@

They are definitely two of the most caring, generous people I know, and I respect and admire them greatly.

When we were finishing up with the cookies, we also watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and part of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" (the original animated version)--courtesy of Courtney. ^_^

We started the cookies around 2pm and were ready to leave for a quick trip to Daiso at about 6:30pm.

Just as we were about to leave, W&C came over. So T, K and R went to Daiso, and W&C and I hung out at my place for a bit before we all met up at the Towada Catholic Church to attend a Christmas eve mass.

It was pretty cool because the entire service was printed out (in Japanese) in a booklet. All the songs were in hiragana (so I could actually sing along!) and most of the congregational responses were in hiragana as well. There was communion too. At first I wasn't sure if I should take communion, since I'm not Catholic, but then I figured that Christian is Christian, and so long as I know why I'm taking communion, it's fine.

After the mass, there was a reception with plenty of food--sushi, turkey, sandwiches, tangerines and Christmas cake!--and lots of people to talk to. Some people spoke English, some Japanese, and some Spanish. It was a neat experience.

Side note: As much as I've enjoyed the two services I've attended at Greater Love Baptist Church (the Misawa church C&W also attend), the experience did make me wonder if maybe I should give the local, Towada Baptist Church a try. I might not understand a lot, but at least I'll get to know Christians in my community. It's a tough call, though, since I appreciate being able to understand the message, and I like going to a church where I have friends...

Following that everyone came back to my place. We watched "A Christmas Story"--an old but hilarious Christmas movie--and J came over as well.

After everyone left, I cleaned up and took out the trash. (You're supposed to put out the trash first thing in the morning, but I knew there was no way I'd wake up before 8am to take it out, so I cheated a bit.) When I came back, I remembered that I hadn't checked the mail, and lo and behold, there was a card from Joeie!! ^_^ (I've said it numerous times, but I'll say it again: the Japanese postal service is amazing!! Christmas eve is a holiday in Japan because it's the Emperor's birthday, but they still deliver mail!!)

So I opened the card and most of my other gifts, then took a shower and went to bed.

I slept in until nearly 1pm. It was an especially nice sleep because I slept on the bed; for the past couple of months I’ve been too lazy to put out my bedding, so I’ve been sleeping on the couch in my sleeping bag.

Just after I finished putting away my bedding, Syv and Jen called! =D Jen had written on my Facebook wall that they were going to call, but I didn’t know when they were planning on doing so, so I was worried that I would be out and miss them! But that didn’t happen and we got to talk, so it was all good. ^_^ 

Side note: Of course it’s not as good as being home together with everyone, but since I’m away for the holidays, a call is the next best thing (and this applies to all of the calls I’ve made/had in the past two days).

Then I went online and had Facebook gifts/messages from Grace, Peter, Shirley and Allie, and an email from Vince. ^_^ 

Basically I’ve just felt really loved this Christmas. I’ve had cards from my parents, Syv, Cecilia, Brenda, Joeie, and the assistant English teacher from Kirita. I’ve also gotten gifts from my parents, Syv, Joeie, AB; RB, and staff at Kirita—plus one’s on its way from Jen.
And I’ve still got McDonald’s hockey cards (from my parents) to open right now, and a Christmas dinner at K & R’s place tonight. ^_^ If I had to be away from home for Christmas, I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better Christmas than the one I’ve had so far.

I think that being in Japan has really taught me to value relationships because I have to work that much harder to maintain them long distance. It’s forced me to be more intentional in showing my care for people. If I want to wish someone a happy birthday, I have to set a time to call when I think they’ll be home (and, more often than not, I also have to look up their phone number first since I didn’t think to copy them from my cell before I left). I also appreciate things like letters/packages, emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls a lot more than I did when I was in Canada

Anyway, to conclude:
Merry Christmas!! I love and miss everyone at home in Canada, but I’m also extremely thankful for all of my friends here in Japan. ^_^
Photos: My living room (the room I live out in the winter) all cleaned up for Christmas Eve.

Cards from (left to right): mom & dad, F-sensei, Syv, Joeie, Cecilia, Brenda, T-san & H-sensei.

Sheep from AB & RB (it has a blanket inside); pillow from T-san & H-sensei; Vancouver 2010 Olympic mascot from Syv; blue blanket from Kirita year-end party.