It’s Thanksgiving day here in Japan today. Well, it’s the date on the calendar for us westerners that is the American day of Thanksgiving…er…except we are a day ahead.
How’s that for confusing?
Today is Thanksgiving, a regular day here in Japan. My kids are all in full Thanksgiving swing, cooking and baking and preparing for their family meals. They all live on the same side of the international date-line as I do-so it’s Thanksgiving for them too.
All my life I’ve lived with being aware of the international dateline and time zones and having to schedule my phone calls accordingly which meant many times getting up in the middle of the night to make a phone call to family! At least this year-the family that I’ll be calling is on my side of the planet. 🙂
Obviously, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Japan. There are groups of “foreigners” married to Japanese that get-together and celebrate the various American holidays, and I suppose if I really wanted to I could do that…but Thanksgiving has never been about just getting together and eating turkey. Not for our family anyhow. For us, Thanksgiving was first and foremost a time to celebrate and appreciate family. The food was just a bonus.
So, getting together with others here just to eat….well…
Hubby and I decided that we’d go out for dinner after he came home from work. We always pass by this buffet restaurant at the mall and we always say….”let’s eat there someday”. We peeked at the menu and they seem to have a nice variety of food -Japanese, Italian..and some other dishes that looked tasty.
No turkey though-obviously.
Eating out sounded good to me-I’m still recovering from whatever it was I had, mixed with a relapse of my asthma. No cooking, no dishes….I can deal with that.
I’ve been busy these past two weeks despite being really sick. Last Monday was the ladies class annual Thanksgiving party. The ladies told me that they looked forward to our little get-together-one said that she felt it was important for personal reasons…I was really touched by that. I was sure she was sincere.
We didn’t have turkey. I could order one on the foreign food website but they are really expensive and secondly- I have no idea how I’d cook it! I don’t have a turkey roaster and didn’t feel like making the almost $200.00 investment to buy one!
Instead, I ordered a whole young chicken which was more than enough for the five of us. It fit nicely into my little convection oven and turned out beautifully. I seasoned it with fresh Rosemary from my garden, garlic, salt and pepper and butter. It turned out really tasty.
It was a pot-luck and everyone brought delicious dishes to add to our table. I just loved the way some of them were decorated!
We did have cranberry sauce which went nicely with the chicken.
I had the coffee bar “open” which was a big hit with the ladies! It was American-style “serve yourself” which is not the usual here in Japan. At least not at the functions I’ve been at. From what I’ve seen in hubby’s family-guests are served. I, being married to chonan or “eldest son” am required to take the lead in serving so I say this from experience. Even though we’ve only been living here for just under two years-in all of the dozens of trips we’ve taken to Japan during the past years before we moved here, it’s always been the same. So I’m thinking it must be cultural.
I managed to bake a pumpkin pie made from fresh Japanese kabocha pumpkin that turned out to be THE best pie I’ve ever made in my life! The crust turned out perfect, the filling was perfect, it was even a beautiful color! I also made pumpkin-cream-cheeze bars. I’ve seen canned pumpkin in the import store at the mall but since I’ve been using fresh kabocha, I’ll never use canned again.
I made a pot of coffee and set out an assortment of teas.
At any rate, the ladies seemed to have fun with the coffee-bar. Seriously! I was watching them and I could tell that they really enjoyed it!
I took out two of the shoji doors to kind of open the tatami rooms up and create a larger space for our gathering. I love how I can do that! It really comes in handy being able to “take our your wall” to make the room bigger!
It was really enjoyable! We drank “non-alcoholic” beer that one of the ladies brought. We laughed and just really enjoyed each others company.
I planned a couple of Thanksgiving themed games ……
The ladies seemed to enjoy playing them and challenging themselves on their knowledge of American Thanksgiving!
Our next event is the annual tea and cookies Christmas party. I’m thinking perhaps I’ll make up a batch of gingerbread dough and have the ladies cut out the gingerbread-men. They bake up fast and if I premade the dough it might be a fun activity for them. None of them bake.
That reminds me-gotta start cutting the forms for the cardboard gingerbread houses!
Now comes the “moral” of the story… 🙂 If you don’t like inspirational posts you can stop reading here-no offense taken!
I’m being taught (and hopefully am learning) some really important lessons on just what this “peace that passes all understanding” is and how broad it reaches into our lives, if we allow it to.
One of my biggest prayers over the years has been that I grow in my relationship with God. I think many Christians pray that prayer sometime in their lives…”oh Lord help me grow!”. “Oh Lord, let me feel your presence in my life!”. You know…the standard prayers that most of us grew up with.
But- you know that old saying…..
….Watch out what you pray for…what you ask for….you know- that one?
Yep- that one.
We are all wired differently. What works for one, might not work for the next.
Apparently, this is what it takes for me to have the prayer answered. This…forced solitude. This purging of everything that brought happiness and contentment and joy to my life before. Speaking of my family.
I used to absolutely pour my life out for them. The kids called, I jumped. I did above and beyond the normal call of motherly duty, I think, now that I think of it.
I never thought I could live without them right near me.
“Oh Lord….help me grow…help me feel your presence in my life…”
There is nothing like standing there all alone, having all the distractions removed….and hearing the lonely sound of the wind whistle about you….and then you go…”oh, um…not quite what I meant”…
…………….and you hear only the sound of the wind….
And then the prayers come in earnest….OH LORD!! PLEASE! I need to feel your presence!! I need you !! I can’t do this alone…!! 🙂
“Hey, kiddo-you were never alone…cept you were too busy to notice. I’ve always been there- I mean..you noticed…but not really.”
And you begin to learn a whole new way of “being joyful”. You begin to really taste what it means to be joyful in the Lord.Not just that almost guaranteed joy that comes when “life is great” but joy that envelopes you even in the dark, lonely hours of life. Almost like a protective bubble from the “boogey-man” that hides around the corners of your mind, lurking in your thoughts, or in nostalgic music you play on the CD player… or….in the old family photo albums…threatening to bring you to your knees, your heart gripped in sorrow, loneliness and depression. Tears falling into your coffee cup….and on your computer keyboard.
Can you be joyful in totally new territory? Can you be joyful when everything familiar to you is …not there anymore?
Is there truth to the scripture that says”
Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.
It’s easy enough to do this when everything is great and life is perfect…..(italics mine)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I’m learning now, in the autumn of life, what it’s like when the rubber meets the road of life and you test these verses -for real.
Happy Thanksgiving-giving thanks in all circumstances. 🙂
By the way…from what I’ve seen…Joy really does come in the morning and right now…too.