Nothing beats Christmas at home, surrounded by family and friends!
This year I'm particularly looking forward to it not just because I stayed in Japan last year, but also because I'm so completely worn out!!
Once again lesson planning has kept me working until quite late recently. Of course this resurgence of work coincided with the time I decided I had enough free time to apply for a proofreading position with one of my favourite manga scanlation groups. *sigh* I'm excited to be contributing to the manga fan community, but I can only hope now that I won't regret taking on the responsibility...
But anyway, this is the last week of school before Christmas break!! I'm really looking forward to jishu gakushu (extra English) this week. My mom gave me a heckload of things to give to my students, but apart from the stickers I haven't really had a chance to distribute them, so I decided that this year I'm going to play the "present stealing" game. ^_^ And of course, I'm also continuing my annual tradition of baking Christmas cookies for the Kirita students and staff.
Unfortunately the problem with baking large quantities in Japan is the lack of a proper oven; all I've got is a regular-sized toaster oven. Just think: I can only bake about 9 cookies at a time; each batch takes about 11 minutes plus 2 minutes cooling (on the oven tray) time; I've baked about 150 cookies so far. Do the math: 150 cookies divided by 9 equals about 17 batches; 17 batches times 13 minutes per batch equals 221 minutes, or about 3 1/2 hours. Add the prep time for the batter (about one hour since I do everything by hand and creaming the sugar/butter together takes forever) and you get 5 1/2 hours I've spent (spread over 2 days) so far just baking cookies. And I'm only halfway done!! Not to mention, I still need to wrap all of them. @_@
Well, normally I wouldn't feel that tired from baking for just 3 hours, but today was a particularly long day. I spent 3 hours (round trip) on a bus going between Towada and Aomori City so I could spend 2 1/2 hours shopping for Christmas presents. But I guess it was worth it since I got the stuff my mom asked for (for my dad), plus presents for Nate, Jen & Syv, and for our small group present exchange.
(Digression: Had to put almost all of it on the credit card, though, since I messed up my budget this month and only have 6000 yen (in my wallet and bank account combined!) to last me until Friday, i.e. payday! Normally that'd be more than enough, except I'm supposed to go out for dinner with Tomabechi-sensei and Higashi-sensei this week, and I also need to mail some Christmas presents out tomorrow...)
The Aomori shopping trip wasn't the only thing I did before baking, however: I also went into the office for about 2 hours to make materials for tomorrow's classes. *sigh* This is about the third time in as many months that I've had to go into the office on the weekend. And it isn't as if I'm going in on the weekend because I neglected things I needed to get done during the week, either! When I go in on the weekend, it's almost always in addition to spending all my weeknights lesson planning/going to eikaiwa/going to dance class (i.e. valid obligations)!
I'm definitely going to be out like a log on the plane ride home.
Post Script: On a more random note, one of the small things I appreciate about Japan is how they package eggs in clear plastic cartons so you don't have to open the package and check for cracked eggs--you can just pick it up and look!
Post Post Script: I really miss everyone at home! It really made my day to get an email saying: "We want Melissa back for Christmas!"(Thanks, Alan!) I know it's my own fault that I've been too busy/broke lately to hang out much with the other ALTs, but it also seems like there've been things this year that all the other Towada ALTs went to that I simply didn't know about/wasn't invited to.
And I mean, it's not that I'm hurt or anything--I can totally understand how/why that would happen--it's just that I guess it shows that I haven't been a good enough friend to be remembered for certain social events. (And I'm also feeling really tired/stressed right now, so a lot of those emotions are probably what are speaking to me right now.) Well, I've always admitted to slight anti-social tendencies, so I really shouldn't be surprised that they (the anti-social tendencies) would affect how others treat me; I can't expect other people to always be making the effort to include me in things; I need to make an effort to maintain/develop relationships, too. (Difficult to do when I'm so busy with work, though...)
The old saying "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" is really true. The longer I'm in Japan, the more I realize how integral (the MCBC) Christian community has been in my life and how impossible it is to replace it with other relationships. I want to truly know and be known by others, but developing that type of trust takes time and effort--particularly for "reserved" people like me.
Anyway, thank goodness I'm going home for Christmas this year, otherwise I might get homesick enough to change my mind about staying for a third year!