One more Christmas story

I know that Christmas was four days ago, but I hope that you have time for one more heartwarming Christmas story. All my friends trapped on the East Coast are a captive audience, at least.

So I am now at liberty to say that six days before Christmas, and just one day after his mother and sister got here for a week-long visit, Rob had to ship off to deal with certain rogue states in the western Pacific. I felt terrible for Rob, but I was delighted to have the company. Rob’s mom and sister were very understanding of the vagaries of navy scheduling, and we had a nice time together doing some low-key exploring: Kamakura, Tokyo, and the food section of the local Lawson’s convenience store, where I am a rather expert guide by now to the myriad flavors of onigiri rice balls and Haagen-Dazs.


The one night we were all in the same place.

Chip shows Aunt Betsy his favorite place to put stickers: other people's hair.


The family left the 23rd, and thanks to a Christmas miracle that kept the two Koreas from doing everything but actually firing on each other this time, look who walked in the door on Christmas Eve:


Chip eats Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve. Note Rob in background.


After that, it was your standard Christmas except that 1.) we missed everyone back home terribly and 2.) everything is open on Christmas in Japan! I almost had ramen just because I could, but it just didn’t feel right. Plus I had eaten a lot of Christmas candy. Chip was showered with toys by all of you who love him.


Chip's new wagon from Grandma.


But most importantly this season, I learned the true meaning of Christmas as expressed in the immortal words of Mariah Carey:

“I don’t want a lot for Christmas
This is all I’m asking for
I just wanna see my baby
Standing right outside my door

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true,
Baby, all I want for Christmas is you.”


Poster Boy

Chip’s first (and likely only) modeling job has finally been published. In case you are not expecting the Combi late winter/early spring catalog in your mailbox, you can check him out by clicking here. For the grandmothers: he’s at the top, and you can scroll down and see a few more pictures. I think the funniest is him lying on the heart-shaped pillow. That will haunt him for the rest of his life. At least the camera didn’t seem to add ten pounds, like they say, because that would be almost half of his body weight. Very embarrassing.

You’re a Mean One, Kim Jong Il

You’re a mean one, Kim Jong Il
You’ve ruined three holidays
Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas
You have taken away
Kim Jong I-eeeeeeeeeeeeee-il
And whoever told you that your hair looked good that way?

You’re a monster, Kim Jong Il
They say you’re “schizotypal”
I’m not sure exactly what that means
But you have kimchi in your soul
Kim Jong I-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-il
I wouldn’t touch you with 39 and 1/2-inch platform sole.

You’re a foul one, Kim Jong Il
To your country you’re a dic-
tator, and now you’ve made
my husband quite seasick
Kim Jong I-eeeeeeeeeeeee-il
Seriously, just go pour yourself a Hennessey and watch a Bond flick.

E is for…

Earthquake! Early Monday morning, I felt my first earthquake. I was shaken awake at about three in the morning by it. The weird thing was that I knew immediately what it was, even coming out of a dead sleep. I did not enjoy it. It was a 4.7 with the epicenter north of Tokyo, so it wasn’t too powerful but it will do nicely for checking the experience off of my Japan to-do list, thank you very much. I think that earthquakes are really the bullies of natural disasters, the way they sneak up on you unexpectedly. At least with tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, plague, etc. you can see the enemy and might be warned before it hits.

Engrish! While going through my pictures recently, I found a couple of nice signs that I haven’t posted yet.

Yes, please only use your best handwriting for graffiti.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Kurisumasu

The Japanese, being a seasonal people, really seem to be into Christmas. I was afraid I would call attention to myself with a string of lights in our palm tree and a little Christmas tree on the porch, but I needn’t have feared. One of the people on our street has Santas popping out of his yard like so many gnomes, and a light display that rivals Chevy Chase’s in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This is a man who usually trims his yard with scissors. I was very concerned about his light bill until I saw his strings of lights are solar-powered. Inspired, I got some, too, but it was really mainly because I have no outdoor electrical outlet and was not about to run the light cord through an open window despite my determination to be festive. I have also decorated the inside of the house, with the bookshelf substituting for the hearth. Fortunately Chip is too young to wonder how Santa will get into the house without a chimney.

Ornaments in the window and lights on the bookshelf. Safe? Probably not. Festive? Definitely.

Why the determination to be festive? Usually I am not so thrilled about Christmas and it is Rob who is Tiny Tim to my Scrooge. But he is gone again–if you follow the news of the western Pacific closely you’ll know exactly what he’s doing–and I feel that I should step up in his absence.

Other signs of the season:

  • My neighborhood Starbucks, which made me very sad by not having any pumpkin-flavored things this fall, has come through with the gingerbread latte! It is even more delicious here, I think because their default milk is whole. I’m not going to ask about that, though.
  • If gingerbread lattes aren’t your thing, there are a variety of seasonal drinks now in the vending machines. Corn potage (my guess is some kind of soup in a can), hot lemonade (lovely), hot jasmine tea (lovelier), and something in a can with a stack of pancakes on the outside. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will.
  • Before Rob left again we went to Tokyo for a night. (Chip-chan got babysat and we had a night out. We went and saw the new Harry Potter movie because it was in English. The theater was amazing: it looked like a space ship inside, everyone put away their cell phones and shut up for the duration of the film and then took their trash out afterwards, and two tickets cost over $40–seating was reserved!) Walking around Roppongi we caught the scent of pine and were delighted to see a Christmas tree lot…

    Perhaps you can't see the price tags for 40-50,000 yen. That's like a $500 tree.

  • Boxes are appearing everywhere. Watch out family and friends: you might just be getting Chip mailed to you for Christmas.

I just wrote "Chip" on the custom form. No questions asked.


In other Chip news, after almost 18 months of life Chip finally had enough hair for a haircut. He cried the entire haircut, but looks much more respectable without the baby mullet.