I haven’t written in you since last year! Jan. 1 is probably my least favorite holiday. It occurs right after Christmas–the best holiday, practically all the stores are closed, and I have to stay up late for nothing.
As a kid, I spent every New Year’s praying in the New Year at church. At about 11:30 pm, everyone stood in a circle while holding hands and each person prayed. Sometimes, I wondered if people prayed for a long time to be THE person who spanned the gap between years. I shifted in my spot, peeking at the clock to see if it was 199-whatever yet. There was only one time I did not go to church to celebrate, and that was the year Uncle Al took us to see the fireworks. I still remember the adults holding sparking crystal flutes, the icy wrought iron banister, and the explosion of colors against the black sky.
My next New Year of hooky was 2009/2010, at the end of my time abroad. I met up with friends in Tokyo! We sang karaoke, ate 鍋(nabe, a hot pot dish), and huddled together on a cold, windy platform of JR Shinjuku Station(JR新宿駅).
In 2011, I was at church, leading games and pointing at who should sing “Eleven Pipers Piping” and “Five Golden Rings.”
Then, I was in Japan. I spent four nights of New Year’s Eves in an overnight bus to Tokyo. While many Japanese people returned to their furusato (故郷, hometown), gave or received お年玉(otoshidama, decorative envelopes filled with money for the new year), and ate osechi ryouri (お節料理, different dishes with various meanings/good fortunes eaten in stacked lacquer boxes) with relatives, I arrived at my hostel, took a quick shower, and headed out to go shopping on January 1! In times past, many stores in Japan were closed, but now, people go out to buy fukubukuro (福袋、lucky packs) filled with goodies from their favorite stores. In the past, it might have been a bag of things that did not sell for a cheap price. So sometimes, you have no idea what you will get, but most clothing stores have different versions of the fukubukuro posted online.
池袋(で)ふくろう(の)服福袋(を)振った。Ikebukuro (de) fukurou (no) fuku fukubukuro (wo) futta. (I tried to do a tongue twister. In Ikebukuro, I waved an owl clothing lucky pack.)
Last year, I did not go to Tokyo and regretted it. I stayed at home and ate too many snacks.
This year, I had serious cabin fever on December 31. I ate a lot of chocolate, exercised, then looked for exciting things to do around town. There was a masquerade ball, but no one was there, so I helped my mom prepare for breakfast at church. It was not so bad. I have not come up with 2017 New Year’s Resolutions yet, but one is to be in another country by the fall!