12 January 2016

Christmas and New Years 2015

After advent calendars, a bit of carolling, scripture reading of Luke 2, and the 12 days of Christmas, the day had finally arrived! Reia was much more aware of what what going on and could not wait for the 25th. She would always run to the calendar and count down the days.
Oma and Opa were with us this year which was extra special. This also meant that the girls got a tonne of presents! There were so many this year that we had to hide most of them when people came over as to not be "showy." Christmas is not really a huge deal in Japan in comparison to Westernized countries, even amongst members in my opinion. But they do have the best Christmas light displays and ice sculptures!

Usually when we do Christmas at home, Pup will pick the presents and have a helper to help give them out. That kind of lasted for a little bit but after a short while, Reia and Aila just started digging into the pile and ripping apart anything that looked like theirs. It became a bit chaotic near the end. 
The girls got so many things. Aila's first present that she opened was Dipsy, the green Teletubby! That was enough for her right from the get-go and she ignored all other presents presented to her and just hung out with her new buddy. Reia got a Ninja Turtle which was somewhat over shadowed by all the joy Aila was having with her Teletubby. However, Reia did really get into the activity books and other little toys she got. The girls also got lots of clothes, books, and DVD's galore. 

We ate our usual platter of food. Big thanks to Pup for bringing over lots of Kiwi goodies and to Mum for being the food presentation wiz! So so full all day and then it was time to prepare dinner. There are 6 missionaries in our ward and we invited them all over for dinner. We had a big turkey from the U.S. Base, a ham from New Zealand that Opa brought with him in his suitcase. We had a lovely evening with the missionaries and shared our favourite Christmas memories. After dessert, which was a Christmassy baumkuchen, we sat in a circle and sang Christmas carols. It was really nice! I haven't sung in 4-part harmony for so long and neither had the missionaries. They said it made their Christmas all the merrier as that it what they do back home. We finished the night with a message from the missionaries by Elder Fenton. It was a nice way to finish the evening :)

My parents both love the Christmas season which means we got to get more out of the season through their enthusiasm and joy. Without sharing the holidays with family, Christmas just doesn't feel the same. I am looking forward to making our own Makise traditions with my kids. Jun is very good at keeping us all grounded and focused on the true meaning of Christmas so we have a good balance of Christmas and traditions between us.

For New Years Eve, Jun's parents also joined us and we had a quiet night at home. We were all still so full from Christmas! We had sinigang soup for dinner, Dutch "oliebollen" donuts for dessert, and when midnight came, a big bowl of soba so that we may live long lives! Ohhh my goodness I was sooooo full. I like watching the funny programs on t.v. during oshougatsu. They only air during New Years so it's a treat to watch. New Years Eve is very different to a Kiwi NYE. I am used to loud music, dancing, partying, food and fireworks (not to mention a New Years kiss!), but in Japan it is very quiet. No fireworks, music or dancing (and especially no kissing). People usually stay at home and welcome the New Year that way. The women usually cook up a storm before-hand so that they don't need to cook from the 1st-3rd. On New Years Day however, everyone goes to the shrine to pray, and that is what we did! With my parents, Jun's parents, and sister and brother-in-law, we all went to the local Yaho Tenman-gu shinto shrine, in Kunitachi. There were so many people lining up to go to the shrine. There was an hour-long wait! We quickly decided to skip that line to the shrine and went straight to the food stalls instead. At this shrine, there wasn't a big selection to choose from. However, the yakiimo (baked sweet potato) and the Hiroshima-yaki were SO GOOD!!! Yakiimo in general is nice, but they slow cooked these ones by hanging them inside large earthenware pots instead of on top of hot coals. So soft and sweet with that caramelized taste. The Hiroshima-yaki was absolutely amazing. It was a little awkward lining up for this and eating it in front of my Osaka family, but it was worth it! The guy making it really put a lot of effort into it and it took a while for him to get them out to us. Oh so gooood. I can't even compare it to Kansai style okonomiyaki. To me, it is a completely different dish! And they are both delicious!

After the eating, we went back to our place and relaxed for a bit, then started on making dinner. We had traditional osecchi ryouri prepared by Jun's Mum and sister, Tsubasa. Mum and I made our traditional NY platter of fruit, chocolate, cheese, crackers, dips and meats. So so full. The girls were given their otoshidama by their Japanese grandparents and Aunty and Uncle. Reia was excited to receive money and a big book of Japanese folklore. Aila on the other hand threw her money on the floor lol. She was not that into it.

That was our end to 2015! We are excited for what 2016 has in store for the Makises's! 

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