Christmas Letter From Me to You, 2012 Edition

Haha, I liked that title, but it turns out that this post is entirely December. Oh, well.

It’s that time of year again–the time of year that you spend with your family. I actually received an invitation to come spend the holidays with my previous homestay family in Kitami City, Hokkaido, which I accepted. Being in the north in Japan, it’s very cold and snowy, making for a white Christmas that I would not get to see in Santa Rosa. Of course, with all that snow outside, I couldn’t resist going out into the cold on a walk and taking pictures, and I think this is what almost led to me getting sick again–but this time we went straight to a pharmacy and bought some cold medicine, and I’m feeling better. (Maybe if I get sick enough this year, I’ll be immune to everything next year, haha!)

IMG_4636
A small frozen creek in a forested area by the path I was walking.

This has been an amazing and wonderful year in many ways, but I have to admit that I’m also writing because I’m a bit homesick. If you read this and have time to write back in an email or in a comment, I will read it and write back! I would love to hear from you.

Contrary to my expectations, this Christmas in Japan has been quite “Christmasy” for me. I attend (or am trying to attend more often) a Japanese church in Hiroshima, which seems to be gaining more Christmas decorations every week!

IMG_4508

My favorite, although not the biggest, are the four little trees that sit on the ledge above the screen where the worship songs are projected ^w^

IMG_4484-2

I don’t care much for the distracting, flashing Christmas lights that you tend to see in city squares and stuff, but I absolutely love all the cute “little” Christmas decorations that I find all over the place^^ The front of the church is also decorated with lights, and it’s impossible to miss! I hope lots of people came for the Christmas Eve service(s)! I left on the 22nd so I wasn’t able to make it.

IMG_4518

Earlier the same day, after church, my friend Hitomi and I went to take purikura pictures at a shopping street in Hiroshima. I was wearing my Santa hat, but it turns out there were more Santas all over the place. I don’t even know exactly who the people in this next picture are–but you can’t wear a Santa hat and walk through a huge group of Santas without taking a picture or something.

IMG_4501

Then when I got back, I got asked to “model” for a music video. Some of you might have seen the next picture on my Facebook. Basically, there’s a group at my church making Christian rock music (Yay!!!!^^)–I think they might do the worship for the teens or something like that–and they were making a music video. There are some dresses in the storage room at the church used for plays and things. My shoulders are too wide for all of them, and some just didn’t fit at all, but the red one looks good enough from the front, so we just filmed the whole thing without taking any back shots. My expression isn’t very serious because they hadn’t started yet…and because I was wearing this really puffy dress and didn’t quite know what to do with myself, haha.

IMG_4515

That was all last week. Now here I am in Hokkaido, writing this post while watching Christmas specials that are really only loosely Christmas related. A couple days ago, I went with my host mom to a supermarket to buy some cooking ingredients, and low and behold, there was the “Christmas chicken” section:

IMG_4607

Two important staples of the Japanese Christmas tradition are Christmas cake and Christmas chicken. I don’t have a picture, but our school lunch at the kindergarten a couple weeks ago was fried chicken and a small Christmas cake in a box. People are always surprised when I tell them that Americans don’t have a “Christmas cake” that they eat on Christmas (I mean, you can eat one if you want to, but there isn’t like a “Christmas cake tradition” of any sort…pies are more common, right? But it looks like other Western countries have a tradition of eating Christmas cakes.) All the people working at the store were wearing Santa hats, and there were so many Christmas decorations that you couldn’t miss it. I really enjoyed that store. I mean, just look at how festive the sushi section is!

IMG_4609
Merry Christmas from the raw fish section!

It’s really crazy to look back on how much has happened this year–going to Mexico on a missions trip with my church, college graduation, YWAM Circuit Riders, and Japan. I don’t feel like it’s really set in–how much has happened in the last year and a half. I got to learn so much about God during my last year of college, and so much about Japan since coming back here, it feels like. Thank you, every single person who has read or followed my blog since I’ve started, maybe even when I was writing during study abroad. I really appreciate you! Your comments and feedback have made this blog a lot of fun to write. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year!

Love, Stephanie

Song of the Day: “Sleigh Ride” (instrumental)

13 thoughts on “Christmas Letter From Me to You, 2012 Edition

  1. We hope you will enjoy a blessed Christmas. We do miss you but thank goodness for Skype. May this be a memorable time for you. We love you & enjoy your posts & pix. That is a great gift to us. Grandma & Grandpa

    1. Thanks so much. I love you and hope you had a joy-filled Christmas! I’m having fun getting to know the students participating in this year’s winter homestay program :) It feels weird to say that and not be a student, haha. Hope your break is going well!!

  2. Thanks for these pictures. It has been a crazy year for you. We really miss you, especially at this time of the year. I hope you can use the quiet time in your life to process it all. It’s nuts here in the USA. People are crazy angry, and I wonder if it would be easier to experience peace in a place like Hokkaido. God’s with you wherever you are, and Mom and me think of you often. You’re in our hearts always. Merry Christmas. Love, Dad

  3. We miss you! Will take pictures to share.

    Love Uncle John, Aunt Karen, Lucas and Julia. You will also be missing his bar mitzvah on Jan 26. I’ll send you an invitation anyway. Please send snamil mail address.

  4. Happy Christmas from the Andersons to you, Stephanie! We missed you on Saturday (glad you got medicine and not sick!). Skype us anytime; somebody’s usually awake and on a computer. It’s such a treat for me to read your adventures. It’s been a long time since I got to be in Japan, but it was an experience I’ll never forget (and it probably changed me). Enjoy your Hokkaido homestay. Thank you for sharing your life with us all.

    1. Thanks! I’ll probably call sometime during this break! The video quality I have here isn’t as good though, so it might have to be just our voices (what? Like a phone call? How old-fashioned). Thanks so much for reading my blog :) I hope you had a great Christmas and that your new year is lots of fun, too!!

  5. We missed you yesterday. But it will be March before we know it! Praying you will find fun things to do to fill your time and stay healthy. Talk to you soon!

  6. Hey Steph!
    Hope you’re having fun in Hokkaido, (if you’re still there)! Miss you and I love reading your updates. :) Shoot me an email sometime with more updates. hehe. I hope you’re having a relaxing time from work!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s