Sunday, November 26, 2006


A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

It just so happened that this year the American Thanksgiving fell on a Japanese national holiday. Of course, I went all out and made a turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, the works, right? Well, I bought everything I needed to make a pumpkin pie, including a new pie dish. Still, my oven did not get a workout. Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays growing up. We would usually be out in the desert camping and my mom would go to the ends of the earth to prepare a complete Thanksgiving feast in our camper. I swear that woman has a magic wand hidden somewhere. Amazing. Then there were the left over turkey sandwiches on squishy white bread, with Miracle Whip, lots of salt and pepper and if you did not eat them quickly enough, the dry desert air would make your bread crusty. Sorry, what was I writing about again? Oh, yes! Thanksgiving in Japan. One year I went to dinner at a missionary’s home in Kobe. The food was fabulous, but the best part was playing games after the meal. Another year all the local foreign English teachers held a pot luck and that was good fun, too. Then came the year I went all out trying to keep my American traditions alive and they were met with such a lukewarm response that I was still too deflated the next year to go to all the effort again. Every year, I think about Thanksgiving a lot, but I have not been able to pull it together. As Sam and Mina get older, I want them to have what I had growing up, but, well, there are no deserts in Japan and I am nowhere near as skillful as my mother in the kitchen. When I was thinking about writing this, I planned to write about how we had a nice family day and that maybe our Thanksgiving will just take on a different shape. Now that I am writing it though, I want Thanksgiving. I really do. I don’t want a substitute tradition or just the pumpkin pie. So, I resolve now to get my act together next year. I will buy a turkey baster in The States this summer. I will order the turkey from The Foreign Buyers Club and make sure it is small enough to fit into my Japanese oven. I will ask my mother for her stuffing recipe and I will shell out five dollars for the can of cranberry even though I may be the only one who eats any. After all, I already have the pie dish.


Things I Love - #2

In addition to the Station Master saying “welcome home!” to us when we return on the subway, I have yet another reason to sing the praises of our station. We went out to dinner the other night (which in and of itself is something to write about). It had been cloudy all day, but our laundry dried. By the time we got back to our station it had started to rain and we were caught without umbrellas. This is not a problem though because our little station is just too cute. When it begins to rain suddenly or unexpectedly, they put out a stand of umbrellas for loan. If you need an umbrella, you take one and bring it back to the station the next time you come through. They even had a small one for Mina. I asked the ladies on one of the internet groups I belong to if the stations they live near do this too and only one person responded in the affirmative. See, I knew our station was special!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


A Week of Surprises

Monday - I discovered that Starbucks in Japan is offering a peppermint mocha on this years holiday menu! I am absolutely certain this is due to the comment card I filled out last year when I noticed it was not on the menu. I did not cry last year because I knew I could get one in the States while home for the holidays, but this year there will be no trip to CA for Christmas and I am counting every comfort. One!

Two for Tuesday - an exquisite hand stitched doll that fits in the palm of my hand dressed in Mina’s school uniform, one of the cutest things I have ever seen and the perfect stocking stuffer. Then lunch with a different set of moms. They were so easy going and funny; they did not speak in the stiff formal language that is so difficult for me to wrap my ears around. I was able to follow the conversation and even laugh with them.

Wednesday - Mina only has two and a half hours of school on Wednesdays, so Sam and I usually hang out at a nearby aquarium. Before the aquarium opens we take a walk along the beach. On this particular day, the skies were such a startling blue and so clear that the view of the bay was made even more beautiful by the majestic backdrop of the elusive Mt. Fuji. As I walked, I took in the scenery of the beach's golden curve of sand, gentle waves dotted with a few surfers, then Mt. Fuji, looming large, with a picture perfect dusting of snow on the peak.

Thursday - On Thursday, I started a great new book. How to be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward. It is one of those titles that makes you fall asleep with the light on because you can not stop reading until your eyes close on you involuntarily. I am not going to write anymore about it because I really want to get back to it now!

Friday - Sam in day care. Kanji studies with a peppermint mocha. Lunch with a true friend. We were planning to go to Subway, but they were closed for renovation. We ended up stumbling upon a pretty good hamburger joint instead.

Saturday - A lazy, rainy day spent mostly in PJs. Lightening violently cracked so close to our house that I actually screamed and jumped back from the kitchen sink. Mina ran to the doorframe as if it were an earthquake! At least I know she has been listening to me!

Sunday - There was an International Festival in Kamakura with a local newsletter offering used English books for sale at 100 yen each (about 85 cents)!!!!!!!!!!! What a steal! I picked out ten paperbacks and practically skipped and whistled my way home.

Now it is time I got back to learning How to be Lost, so I can move on to my next literary adventure.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I've Been Wondering . . .

Is it really appropriate to wear black velvet to escort your child to and from pre-school? I have bowed to the pressure and usually wear a skirt, nylons and heels to take Mina to school, but the black velvet pencil skirt I saw one mother wearing the other day had me raising an eyebrow. I miss my jeans like a woman on a diet misses chocolate. At least I know I am not the only one who is uncomfortable adhering to the unwritten dress code that prevails among the mothers at Mina’s school. One mother made a whispered confession that she had to buy stockings for the purpose of coming to the school because she did not have any in her possession previously. This same mother and I have tilted our heads together to discuss the wardrobe of a certain senpai mother who has worn jeans once or twice, albeit dressed up with heels, a blazer and her usual gaggle of trendy accessories. That means it is okay, right? I mean, they are not going to kick us out of the school if we show up in pants, are they? Is the man who stands in front of the school gate there for security reasons or is he the fashion police? My co-conspirator and I have each once tested the waters and sported jeans on the way to school. One rainy day, I noticed the six inches of denim left uncovered above her rain boots and below the hem of her coat. On the day of the school field trip, I took a chance, since the girls were not wearing their uniforms, and wore my favorite jeans with a crisp button down shirt and loafers. Sadly, we both caved and were back in our skirts for pick up time. It is not just jeans that are a problem either, there is also a certain spectrum of colors which the majority of mothers seem to always wear. Once I met the mother from Singapore at the station in the morning and she was wearing a beautiful linen dress in a deep red with a cream floral pattern. She looked fabulous, but she leaned into me on the train and admitted that the dress had been in her closet for two years and that this was the first time she had dared to wear it. I have told my mom before that I often feel like I stand out like a canary in a flock of pigeons. Is it my fault I happen to look best in pastels? This is one of those times when being a foreigner comes in handy. I am not expected to tow the line. I am given more leeway. I can get away with things that the other mothers cannot. Still, you have to find a balance between being yourself and alienating yourself. So, skirts and stockings it is for me, even if the skirt is my new favorite which is mostly brown, but has stripes like a Mexican sarape!

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