The day before Christmas Eve. A little shopping.
Lunch at Sushi Smart, a sushi restaurant that sends your order to your table by automated "train" after you make your choices on an electronic tablet at your table.
A wander through a large nature preserve in the middle of the city and then back to the area where my son lives for dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, Bel Air, named after the California city. The owner has been gleaning ideas for his menu from my son's descriptions of favorite dishes. The Skyline chili is not exactly what we know but it was good.
Christmas Eve day was beautiful and sunny. We made our way to another movie theater and once our tickets were purchased, sent Mommy out for some free time and we sat with the kids to watch Baymax which is titled Big Hero 6 in the States. The movie was in English with Japanese subtitles but there were also times for the movie where it was all in Japanese.
Around the corner we found a McDonald's and like all kids, they were excited to make it our stop for lunch. Bob and I found a last minute Christmas gift and thankfully the Starbucks' clerk spoke English as we left the kids with their mom to finish lunch.
Next it was on to the Microsoft building where my son is employed for a tour of his work place. It was very modern and very different in atmosphere from the Seattle offices he used to work in. Everyone greeted us warmly and it was nice getting to see some of the people he works with. A mom always likes to picture where her children are especially when they are so far away. Now I will have in my mind what his work and home are like.
Back home, we decided to take a stroll to the park where the kids play on a playground, The sun was setting and we suddenly realized in looking down another side street, we could make out Mt. Fuji silhouetted against the colorful sky. Sun sets around 4:30 in Tokyo in late December but it rises a little earlier at 6:45 AM.
Dinner at a local yakitori place (chicken parts grilled on a stick) and then home to get prepared for Santa. When all were in pajamas, we read the Christmas story from Luke. The nearest English-speaking church did not have services on Christmas Eve but rather on Christmas Sunday. We sang a carol and then read The Night Before Christmas.
Children all snuggled in beds, it was time for Christmas magic and a little cookie eating with some milk and tea.
Christmas morning was like any Christmas morning back home filled with children's giggles and laughter and exclamations of surprise and excitement--at 4:30 AM! It was fun watching them shake packages as they waited for the other adults to appear.
Christmas dinner was a little different than back home. Our daughter-in-law ordered ahead for our bucket of chicken from KFC, a tradition no matter how you celebrate Christmas day in Japan and the guys picked it up after a short train trip to the nearest KFC. We were happy to indulge in a little back home flavor followed later by the most delicious strawberry cream cake you could imagine. It was so light it just melted in your mouth.
All in all, Christmas is what you make of it no matter where in the world you spend it. Traditions may change a bit but the meaning of the season, the reason for the season, never does.