Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Kentucky Fried Christmas in Japan

In keeping with my habits, as soon as December rolled around, I visited my local store and bought Christmas decorations. As I decorated my extremely fake Christmas tree, I blasted a Christmas power mix and danced my way into a Christmas-themed apartment. For English lessons, I had the kids sing Feliz Navidad and we played a Christmas gesture game. Mid-December, I received a huge care package from my mother with decorations, gifts and (my favorite) Christmas cards from my family and friends. Every afternoon, I made it my mission to watch every Christmas movie I knew: Elf, Love Actually, Home Alone(1 and 2), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc., while saving A Charlie Brown Christmas for last.

Although I did all I could to bring the Christmas spirit to Okinawa, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day felt so empty. On Christmas Eve, I spent the afternoon cleaning in preparation for my boyfriends arrival. Afterward, since I had so much excess energy, I ran a few miles in 40 degree weather (like a boss). That night, I thought that Christmas day would for sure feel 'Christmasy,' even if I had to work. Who knows, maybe they would have a cake or I'll get to leave work early because they would know how important of a holiday it is for Americans. The possibilities were endless!

Let me just inform anyone who will be working in Japan during the holidays that not one f$#k will be given about Christmas, or how homesick you feel. Not a single f#$k!

Although many wished me a Merry Christmas, the day progressed like any other. Christmas is not an important family holiday in Japan. It's not even a national holiday, but instead it's a date night where couples go to KFC and have a bucket of fried chicken. I'm not joking! Check it out here!

 What made Christmas worse was that this was the last day of the semester and all the teachers were in suits for closing ceremonies. I did not received the memo as I showed up very Americana with a green plaid shirt and jeans. It's not that I  always dress so casually to work, but my teachers look like they rolled out of bed and into track suits, (Missy Elliot and Rev. Run would be proud), jeans is like business wear in Okinawa. Once again, I felt out of place and conspicuous, as I mentally cursed out everyone in the vicinity.

Honestly speaking, I was on the verge of tears the entire day as I thought about my family, and I became whelmed with homesickness. One teacher tried to cheer me up, but it was no use. I spent the rest of the day in a sullen mode until I went home. That night, two teachers had expressed that they did not want me to spend Christmas alone and they came to my apartment to have a Takoyaki party since I received a takoyaki maker from my BOE bonenkai with no idea on how to use it. We had a lot of fun and even played Russian roulette by filling the takoyaki balls is with things like chocolate, pepper, and wasabi.

Next year, I'm taking Christmas off!

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