'Tis the season to be Stressed? Always feels like it, but I always love it. I guess I'm in a love/hate relationship with the holiday season because there are so many amazing traditions and events that I love and look forward to, and that whole Jesus being born thing was pretty amazing, and spending time with family and friends is always a plus, and of course the holiday music and food... okay, so 95% of the time it's amazing. BUT, it is stressful, even in Japan. And, I honestly hadn't really had too much stress yet, so it's been a change.
I've been lead teaching Christmas classes (planning, prepping, and teaching) in all my schools for the past couple weeks, making Christmas cookies (which I can't do justice to because I can't bake anything without an OVEN), going to our JET Christmas enkai (party... hopefully post about my first experience in a ryokan later) and going to some kiddo's Christmas parties and events outside of school in addition my usual weekly routine of work, language classes, karate, and watching Grey's with the girls (yes, I'm still keeping up my current American TV drama-dy scene).
These are some of my sixth graders at the elementary school that takes 30 min. to bike to... good thing they're so cute and like/pretend to like my lessons, or the trek would be a lot more painful!
At orientation I met an awesome American woman that has lived here for 17 years now and has just built a new beautiful school for her English and Culture School conveniently 30 min. from my house. She teaches English night classes to students as well as baking and other culture related cooking to adults. SHE was my Christmas angel I think, without which I would not have been able to enjoy real, fresh Christmas cookies, homemade jam filled shortbreads, hearty bread, spinach dip, pesto cream cheese spread, good fruit cake (which I was pretty sure was non-existant), hot apple cider, chicken noodle soup, and the list goes on! Thanks Deanna for the amazing spread and thanks to Brooke for being an amazing violinist. Yay for Christmas music!
I also got to see a bell choir and try my hand on the noveau bells of the day. I wasn't as good as the 8 year olds. They sounded good, but I think they needed more cowbell.
The only thing I really understood throughout the "service". Well, this song, and my nervous mutterings while trying (very poorly) to distract the kids while our technical issues with a certain PowerPoint we had prepared, failed to start. Felt SO bad our 10 minutes as "special guests" for the kiddos was totally lost:(
Oh, and what do you know? Not one, but TWO Santa's made an appearance for us. Of course they had gifts, which is why I understand now why every student in school that can't/hasn't spoken a word of English to me yet would come up to me and say "Give me present". I just said, "Sorry, no present for you" but a million other things were runnin through my head.
Aside from all the Christmas business that's been going down, I've also been researching and planning for my long anticipated trip to Thailand! This is one of the first trips I've gone that I've really taken the reigns on by myself. It's really exciting to read about all these new and amazing places and things to do, but it's definitely overwhelming. There are so many logistics to take care of. So many. My friend Katie from college is meeting me in Thailand and then coming back to Japan for week. I sent her like a 2 page agenda of the trip, so I think she feels pretty confident I won't let her down:) However, I leave tomorrow night and haven't packed a thing yet - right on schedule.
Anyway, that means I may be a little incommunicado for the next few weeks and postings are going to be delayed, but I'm hoping it'll be worth the wait.
Have an absolutely WONDERFUL Holiday Season, everyone, and know that I love and miss all of you and our holiday traditions especially. Dance to "All I Want for Christmas is You", sing "Happy Birthday" to baby Jesus, watch "A Christmas Story" and bust out some New Kids on the Block Christmas tunes for me, will ya?