A Frugal Christmas…

We celebrate Christmas. Although history and Biblical scholars say that Christ was not born on December 25th – it is the day that the Christian world celebrates our Lord’s birth. You may or may not agree. That’s OKAY. For us, having moved to Japan which is around 1% Christian it gives us an opportunity to share Christ with others.

We do give gifts to our grandchildren and our children….of which we have MANY. The last I counted we had 28 grandchildren with one more on the way. We try to give everyone a little something. This year is a bit more difficult than other years so I decided that the gift theme is “It’s a Daiso and homemade Christmas” !

Daiso is the Japanese version of the dollar store but WAY better. You can actually find some cool, fun and interesting things at Daiso.

I’m also crafting things. Each item has grandma’s heart woven into it. I found some inexpensive blanket material that I put a crochet edging around. I’m going to make little flowers to sew to the four corners.

I used a roll of Caron Cakes and made a crochet bag. When I was in the states my grandson and his wife sent me a surprise package of several rolls of the “latest” yarn fad..Caron Cakes..love it!

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Ive got a scarf in the works from another roll of Caron Cakes and I’m making tea wallets…that’s just a start. Every bit of spare time and then some will be spent in gramma’s Christmas workshop.

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Even though it takes a lot of time and hard work I love making gifts for my family. My daughter told me a story about one of my granddaughters. I had made her a crochet bag several years ago and she hauled that bag everywhere telling everyone that her gramma made it for her and that there was no other bag like it. She valued it because I made it. That really touched my heart. It made me think of the old days…when handmade items were treasured.

I have several items that are hand crafted by my mother and my aunt. Every time I hold these items I recall memories of them. My aunt is no longer living but her memory lives on in my heart and through the items she lovingly made for us.

Christmas decor has caught on here. We were at the farmer’s market last weekend and they had this big display at the entrance.

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The mall has a huge tree set up with lots of decorations through out the halls and stores.

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We like hanging out at the mall during this time of the year..gives us a feeling of “normalcy”. My husband loves Christmas. It was through celebrating Christmas throughout the years that he learned about Christ and after years of thinking, watching and praying privately (I had no idea what was going on in his mind) he decided to give his life to Christ.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of advent so we are looking forward to celebrating it with our church family at Christ Church.

Life has changed so much from when we first moved here. So many blessings have been given. I am truly thankful.

 

The Autumn Fog

We have officially entered the doldrums here. Kyushu autumn and winters are one long dreary affair. Of course one can do things to brighten the days , which I usually do. But if you relied solely on the weather you’d be out of luck.

These days are wonderful though for conjuring up all sorts of stories. There is this certain mystery in the air. I especially love it when a thick fog hangs over everything. It sets the imagination rolling. Makes photography a lot of fun.

Yesterday morning was such a morning when the entire area was shrouded in a misty haze.

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It hung so thick that you could barely see past the garden wall. I never noticed the cobwebs until now when little drops of moisture clung to the fine strands of web making them visible against the foggy background.

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I could even make out all the webs that clung to the neighbor’s house. I never knew there were so many. Amazing, when other things are hidden the hidden things come to light.

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I’ve made my peace with spiders since moving here. I used to be terrified of them like many. I’ve learned to view them differently. In Japan spiders are our friends -eating harmful insects for dinner and keeping them out of our dinners. These pictured here are harmless garden spiders. We have resident house spiders-huntsman spiders. Everyone has them just about. I give ours names and they become less frightening to me. Right now we have Sharley and her children living with us. My husband named her. She is quite large-about as big as my hand but skinnier. I know-I can hear some of you gasping. I assure you that’s just how I felt at first. You’d be surprised at what you can overcome and learn to accept when you don’t have a choice. Japanese never kill house spiders. That would be bad luck.

While I was out photographing the garden I heard shuffling coming up the road. Then I heard someone singing a marching song so I hid behind the bushes (really). I figured there was an interesting photo op coming up.

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I was not disappointed. It was our neighbor. His wife is almost completely blind and she also still walks the road. It frightens me- I always worry about her. This is her husband. I don’t know them personally as they live a ways down the road but my other neighbors tell me that they are probably the nicest people in the neighborhood. I’m thinking about bringing them a fruit basket or something for Christmas. They don’t celebrate Christmas but that’s okay.

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He was singing his marching song as he shuffled slowly up the road. I heard him continue to sing it as he disappeared into the mist….

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Planting Winter Vegetables

I took time out from my catch-up. I think also I needed to get out and see the beauty and peace our creator has for us in this world. It’s been a while since I’ve explored the rice fields and cottage gardens where I love to wander.

There is a little service road that runs across the tops of the rice-fields from the farmers market. On one side there is a bamboo thicket and on the other the rice fields. It makes for a lovely little walk.

Today I saw the ancient gardener planting her winter crop. It gave me such joy to watch her work that I almost went down and asked if she needed help. I watched her and thought, work is good for us. Especially working outside. When you have a big garden to care for you have no time to complain about things that don’t go your way.

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I watched as she slowly hoed the ground. Little by little she loosened the soil until it was loose enough for planting her seedlings.

Not seeming to care about anything except her garden chores. I was lost in the moment with her.

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Working the soil with her hands not caring about anything except getting the seedlings in the ground.

There is so much on my heart right now. So much I want to say to thousands of people but it would be useless. Instead I’ll just say this. An honest day’s work is worth it’s weight in gold. Complaining gets you no where. We don’t always get what we want but if we are wise we know how to live and prosper under any conditions.

As I watched her work I felt such a deep appreciation for the simple things in my life. I too work in the dirt. Many times my hands look like hers and I love that. I love it because it means that I’m not wasting my time-I’m working the land and doing something useful.

Imagine what would happen if everyone would do something useful? Something to help someone else-something practical in love.

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Honey, I’m home!

Hello dear friends!

I have really missed you! Thank you for being patient with me while I left on an unplanned trip to America to visit my mother who had suffered an accident in her home and then developed pneumonia. I’m back home in Japan now. Mom was doing “OK” when I left. I’m thankful that she has so many wonderful people around her. I have no regrets throwing everything aside and hopping on a very long flight to see her. The way things are going it very well may be the last time….I pray not but I have to be realistic.

It was a very fruitful trip in so many ways. I was even blessed with the opportunity to see three of my very good friends from school. I had not seen them for 37 years! I think the best part about it was that we seemed to start-up right where we left off.

Wisconsin was absolutely beautiful this time of year. I didn’t have a lot of time to drive around sight-seeing as I was busy helping my mom but I did take my iPad with me in the car when my sister and I ran to the grocery store and such.

We did take a quick trip down memory lane….and passed by the home where we lived from late grade-school thru high school graduation.

The photos aren’t the best as they were quick “thru the car windows” shots.

This was our old road.

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The driveway of the house we lived in. When we moved in it was just a house on an empty lot. My parents planted over 300 trees on the property. Dad got the forest he imagined.

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Even the horse barn that he built so long ago is still standing.

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The farm where I worked during summer vacations and at other times.

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Our church.

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Other places around town.

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It was like a time warp because it seemed like nothing much had changed.  I did get a brief chance to visit a friend of mine. The view from her home on the lake brought back lots of memories.

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There were times when I had to swallow tears because this was my first trip back since dad has passed away. Everywhere I looked there were memories of him. I knew that sooner than later mom will follow him and when I saw her that reality really hit me hard. I could see that the four and a half years since dad had gone really took a toll on her. She told me a few days before I left that she was ready to leave too. I understood. Completely.

I had no chance to prep for NaNoWrimo. Couldn’t even think about it. I tried to catch up when I got home but….impossible. Too stressful. I was exhausted physically and emotionally. It’s the “emotionally” part that was the hardest.

That’s ok- I’ve no regrets. It was an extremely healing trip for me, my mom and my sister. I’m thankful and very blessed.