Left Out

As I said before, New Year’s is the big holiday here in Japan. In addition to The Big Clean, families are gathering, cousins are playing, grandparents are taking their legacy out for lunch.

But not at our house.

We don’t have any cousins this side of the international date line. The in-laws never take the kids out, which is probably for the best since they can’t behave in public.

The three of us are having lunch in a restaurant teeming with relations gathering for the holiday, talking of making the midnight trip to the shrine on New Years Eve, deciding who will wear which kimono when they go to 初詣 (first prayer,) deciding which auspicious bamboos to put in their genkan.

But we will be doing none of that.

We will get our New Years postcards in the mail, eventually, although they are sure to be late having missed the 24th deadline for guaranteed delivery New Years morning. We’ll have mochi and o-sechi just like most other people in Japan.

But in lots of other ways, we feel left out.

POS BIL hasn’t fulfilled his 長男 name bearer duties, so there are no cousins. MIL’s brothers are devout Christians who don’t “do” New Years, so won’t visit. FIL’s siblings, my husband’s cousins on that side, I have never met. I don’t know if the problem is FIL(likely)

or if it’s me.

He has older sisters. They are sure to remember the lean years, how their father biked thirty miles under cover of darkness to gather the fruits of a relative’s garden to bring home to his starving children. For some reason I don’t fully understand (but after Fukushima I understand a little) bringing foodstuffs not procured through official means during the height of the war was illegal.

At any rate, I know how my own grandmother always felt about the Japanese. I won’t push myself onto my husband’s relations.

And anyway, the problem is probably FIL anyway.

Now my kids are overstuffed from the drink bar. It would be nice if there were some uncles or cousins to carry them home!


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