I almost titled this post the Christmas Spirit but I didn't want to offend any of my readership. You know how it is.
So anyways yesterday was a pretty great day here. We started in the morning with the neighbourhood Christmas party. The Mrs. and I took the three kids over to the little community hall next to the park. I didn't know what to expect as the Japanese treatment of holidays can sometimes be a little off. However, this event was awesome. The basic concept was to get the kids of the neighbourhood together with some of the older folks in the neighbourhood. They started off with a cake decorating session. There were nine groups of 2 or 3 kids and one elder. Each group was given a roll cake, some whipped cream and an assortment of decoration candies. Then they decorated their Christmas cake. Christmas cake is a Japanese specialty. A classic Japanese christmas meal is a romantic dinner of KFC and christmas cake. Fried chicken and a white frosted cake equals santa.
Anyways after decorating they sliced it up and everyone got to eat part of their creation. At our table the youngest didn't do much decorating but he enjoyed his slice. The daughter was at our table and did a major portion of our decorating. The son was at a different table and was sent scathing looks by his father each time he snuck a decoration or took a furtive finger full of frosting (okay it was whipped cream but I loved the alliteration).
After the feasting everything got cleaned away and I did my best at avoiding being volunteered to entertain the kids. It was touch and go for a moment when the wife asked me to teach everyone a christmas song in English. However, I hemmed and hawed long enough for the people from the library to arrive. They presented two sing along songs (in Japanese but accompanied by finger puppets) two books, and one story told with picture cards. None of these were winter or Christmas related. Fair enough.
To finish off they give out some gift packages and then had a kuji. This is where the kids pick a number out of a bag and then get the present associated with the number. Everyone got two picks so our kids were mostly satisfied.
Post party the older two had made plans to play at the park. So after a quick walk home and some lunch they were off again. However, they were told to be back by 3:00 as we wanted to go into town and see a movie. I managed to get a run in and by 3:08 we were on the road, minus the baby who was having his afternoon nap. Both parents felt a little guilty about leaving him behind. But we dealt with it and moved on.
The kids both napped in the car for the half hour ride to Chuo station. Otherwise the drive was uneventful. Upon arrival we split into two groups. The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 group consisted of me and the kids. The shopping and having some leisurely alone time consisted of the Mrs.
The movie experience, aside from the $22.00 adult ticket price, was great. The son sat in my lap for the last half (its a little scary) and the daughter felt like she was trying to rip my arm out. We shared a big popcorn and everyone had their own drink (I know I would never choose melon soda). We took a pee break with about half an hour to go so now I have to wait for the video to see the three minutes I missed. The movie ended at 6:38 and I had told the Mrs. that we would meet her at McD's between 6:30 and 6:45. Fortunately, getting their was pretty much a straight shot. We rode the elevator ride from the sixth floor to the basement. After a (cannot think of appropriate adjective ) dinner at McD's we got back in the car and headed back home.
All in all it was a great festive, holiday kind of Saturday. Some quality family time together. And when we got home the baby was pretty happy to see us. Turns out when he woke up he wouldn't take sympathy from his grand parents or aunt. Instead he turned to his 4 year old cousin for the soothing hug he needed. After that he just played as usual till we got home.