Thursday, January 25, 2007

Christmas Holidays in the Tsugaru

Began with the traditional Elliot Christmas Eve Sushi Dinner . . .

. . . Followed by the Traditional Elliot Midnight Opening of the Presents.

The Latter of Those Two Traditions May Need to be Modified a Little Until All of the Grandchildren are Grown Up

The Traditional Elliot-Ghent Boxing Day Special at "the Warehouse"

New Year's Eve

Watching Grandpa Takahashi and Uncle Yoshiyuki making the New Year's soba

New Year's Eve

Osechi: The New Year's Eve Feast (Courtesy of Aunt Tomomi's Parents who Make these Sets Every Year as a Hobby)

Playing with Uncle Yoshiyuki and Cousin Souki

"This Meeting is Hereby Called to Order": The Three Cousins Pledge Their Familial Allegiance

Canadian Santa 2006

Note to Self: I am Santa

December is the time of year when I impersonate Santa Claus by request of the village daycare centre for the express purpose of simultaneously deceiving, entertaining and confusing children of pre-school age. It's not a job that I'm proud of, but it affords me a brief window of time in which I can make-believe that I am more important than I really am.

This year I was greeted in the doorway by an image of myself, so I entertained a naive hope that I would be held in high honour during my visitation.

Canadian Santa Mugshot

However, like every other year, it was into the closet with me until the "right moment." During this waiting period in the closet I always feel like Matt Foley drinking coffee down in the basement. When I am finally allowed out of the closet I make my way outside in stocking feet to the back door of the assembly hall where I say "Ho ho ho!" and knock. The younglings scream, and an apparently startled adult opens the door for me. At this point no one knows what to do so usually one of the teachers starts to interview me. It's always a bit tricky settling on a language for these interviews because English definitely makes for a more legitimate Santa Claus but it considerably impedes communication. Usually the interview closes with a Q & A session, and this year the yellow name-tags (i.e. four year-olds) got so excited that they stormed the stage. They shouted a great many things at me which I had a hard time hearing, but finally one girl broke through the security cordon and squeaked: "a sparkling frilly dress that's pink!" Ahh, so they were confusing Q & A time with "Dear Santa" time. I looked thoughtfully at the Santa's sack that the daycare centre had issued me and said: "hmm, I'm not sure if I have any of those in here." True enough. I honestly had no clue what was in that bag. But as the little girl was being dragged away she shouted: "they have them at Maeda Store in Mutsu!" Sorry kiddo, but Santa ain't a sovereign power in your local jurisdiction. He takes orders from the "powers that be," just like every one else.

Grace's First List of Firsts

The First Orange: Grace's First Ingestion of Solid Food

First Time at the Wheel

The First Visit to the Emergency Ward: In Which the Moral of the Story is Never to Play Peek-Aboo with a Quilt when Candles are Nearby which Might be Knocked Over by the Quilt and Consequently Splatter Someone's Scalp with Hot Liquid Candle Wax--No Permanent Damage, Praise the Lord (but she did have a glob of hardened wax stuck to her head for several days)

The First Christmas Present (well, the first one to be photographed, at any rate)

Elementary Rice Pounding

Making Mochi the Good Old Way

All of the elementary schools in Kazamaura have rice pounding mochi making events, and in spite of comments I have made to the contrary in the past I do enjoy the events at each and every one of the schools.

However, I do have a special place in my heart for "Snakeshore" Elementary.

They always put in that little bit of extra something: like a student-led shiatsu seminar on how to take care of weary muscles unused to the rigours of mallet swinging . . .

. . . complete with lab time.

I think that Yuko enjoyed that part as well. (Our daughter Grace was also present at this event, but she only features in video footage stored in the Keitai Cinema archives).