This past weekend I spent most of my time "putting up Christmas." It is a Kasal family tradition to do it the weekend after Thanksgiving, but since I was preparing for and then recovering from the Iwakuni Holiday Craft Fair, I postponed the tradition for a week. This year, I was not really looking forward to getting out the holiday decorations. It had nothing to do with being sad over the holidays or anything, I think it was more the time consumed. It takes a whole day to put away the "normal" decorations and put out the holiday ones, and I have been fortunately enough to have been able to spend lots of time in my scraproom these days, so I was in the mood to get back in there. But, Christmas calls.
I was a Princess House crystal consultant for a couple of years about 10 years ago, and did well enough to get a bulk of their collection at the time for free or seriously discounted. Their Winter Garden dishes are some of the most beautiful Christmas dishes I have ever seen (well, at least seen and been able to afford!), so my holiday decor involves a lot of that line.
And then, there is the nativity scene my mother-in-law, Peggy, gave me a couple of years ago. The one I had before this had broken pieces from our many moves, but it was from Algodones, a border town in Mexico near Yuma, AZ, and was missing Joseph. This was a welcome replacement.
Another Kasal family tradition is that each child in the family gets a Christmas ornament every year. That way, when they move out of the house, they will already have meaningful ornaments for their tree. I have all of the ornaments my parents bought me, all the way back to my "Baby's First Christmas" silk ball ornament from 1976. Each year, my brother and I would help my Mom put our ornaments on the tree. I've started the same tradition with my kids, who were eager to help out this year. Both of them are finally old enough to out ornaments on without assistance - and without breaking them.
I have been asked if the Japanese celebrate Christmas. The answer is both yes and no. Less than 1 percent of the Japanese population considers themselves Christian, but they love the "commercial cheer" of the holiday. Mr. Max, the Japanese Wal-mart, sells Christmas trees and decorations, many communities, including Peace Park in Hiroshima, decorate with lights and illuminations and sometimes you can hear Christmas carols playing in the stores. Japan has adopted Christmas kind of like Americans have adopted Cinco de Mayo or the Chinese New Year, but on a grander, sometimes gaudy, scale.