“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?