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The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Eight Days of Christmas

“If I get this, will you eat some of it?” my wife asked, as she held up a kamaboko, a traditional Japanese New Year food item she’d just pulled from the refrigerated section at the local Asian foods store. I glanced at the item that resembled a white cheese log with a pink coating. I recalled when I first ate it many years ago. It lay in knocked-down domino-like slices on a food tray. I thought it a pastry, given the pink coating and eagerly grabbed one to try it.

And such was my first experience with Japanese fish cake.

“Yes,” I said, to my wife’s astonishment. In 14+ years of marriage, she’d never realized that I actually liked the taste of it.

That decided, we wheeled the grocery cart through the rest of the store as my wife searched for more items for our final holiday celebration of the season. Noodles, mochi, chicken, the list went on. There were other things I know my wife would like to have picked up. However, she didn’t as she knew the boys and I hadn’t developed a taste for it and she didn’t relish eating these foods alone. Still, we would have something to celebrate the New Year on what would be our eighth and final day of festivities.

Yes, I said eight days, for that’s what the holidays were this year. We started on Christmas morning, opening gifts at our own house. From there, we met family for a Christmas Day feast.

After returning home, we packed as we were driving up to North Carolina the day after Christmas to spend time with my family. My parents are divorced, so we have to plan two separate events, each complete with a meal. We also meet an aunt in NC, spending time with her as well. My younger sister’s in-laws also live in NC, so the trip has to be coordinated, making sure there’s sufficient time to see everyone. As expected, this took several days to do everything.

This year, with our kids getting older, my parents offered to look after our boys, giving my wife and I a little time to be by ourselves. We welcomed the opportunity and did what most parents would do,

We slept for most of it.

Let’s face it. We were worn out, though we did count the seconds until the ball dropped and then watched some moron on ESPN break a car jumping record before calling it a night.

And so, on New Year’s Day, we found ourselves in the Asian grocery store, looking for items to celebrate the Year, Japanese style. Our kids were still with their grandparents and we wouldn’t be picking them up until the next day. If my wife’s parents had been around, they would have brought everything we needed. Instead, we did the best we could.

And, on the day we brought our kids home, my wife cooked the things we’d bought the day before and she presented them with their otoshidama, a ceremonial envelope containing money, given by my wife’s parents, and sufficient for picking up one last toy. It was the eighth day of Christmas. It would have been nice to see my wife’s parents, for they have a way a making New Year’s special. Maybe next year.

So, how did you spend your New Year’s?

10 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

I would definitely love to try that Japanese fish cake!

I spent New Year's up in the mountains skiing with the family. It was a lot of fun!

Walt M said...

As for skiing, I'd likely break a leg. Haven't been in years.

Walt M said...

It's quite good, and you can likely get it at Asian food store. My wife puts in soup. You can also eat it by itself.

Keli Gwyn said...

I'm glad you got to enjoy time with your extended family--and got some much needed sleep too.

Our New Year's Day is very special because on that day 19 years ago our one and only was born. We celebrate our daughter's birthday and a new year all at the same time, which is way cool.

Walt M said...

So your New Year's has an special meaning, too. That's great. One of my sons and one of my sisters were both born in early January. It's always a struggle to make the birthdays feel special, given their proximity to Christmas.

Jody Hedlund said...

Hey Walt! Sounds like you had a good time. I think my kids watched that same car jump on New Year's Eve. They were spending the night at their friends house. And thankfully, being the old and crotchy couple we are, my hubby and I went to bed at our usual time!

Happy New Year!

Walt M said...

Jody, went to bed your usual time? You and my wife would get along.
:-)

BECKY said...

Hi Walt. I just read a little about you on Kelly Stone's blog. I have family in Atlanta, plus my birthday was yesterday, Jan. 6th, so I'm curious about your son and sister's birthdays! When you get a moment, please check my blog, too! Thanks!

Walt M said...

Becky, thanks for stopping by. My son's birthday is January 8th. My sister's is January 2nd. I'll be sure to check out your blog.

BECKY said...

Hey, thanks, Walt for becoming a follower of mine...and so quickly!I shall do the same!