Rereading my Christmas posts from last year, I begin to feel quite nostalgic. This time last year I had only been in Japan a few short months, and although I did feel a little homesick throughout the holidays, it wasn’t quite as pronounced as one might think, probably due to the fact that I hadn’t been away from my family all that long. I was able to join in the festivities (via the magic of Skype) almost as if I was there with them, and it was quite exciting to think and talk about how I was finally living my dream.
Twelve months later, and things are looking a little different. Much remains the same, of course – I am still thoroughly enjoying living and working in Nagoya – however my responses to the question I have been asked countless times during the lead up to Christmas (are you going back to your hometown/Australia for the holidays?) has been slowly taking its toll. Where at first I was able to easily brush these inquiries off, hearing the same question over and over again, and seeing the looks of incredulity mixed with confusion and just a dash of pity each time I explained that I was to be remaining in Nagoya for the entirety, certainly weighs on one’s mind.
This year was different due to a number of reasons, and while no blame need be laid, it certainly has coalesced into a considerably less Holly Jolly Christmas than last year. Firstly, a number of friends with whom I was able to celebrate the season have since returned to their respective home countries. Secondly, the Christmas Skype with the family had to be moved to an earlier date, due to various commitments and scheduling clashes. This wasn’t that terrible an occurrence though, as it meant I was able to see more of my relatives at one time, and also I didn’t have to wait quite as long to open my box of treasures from home. (It also meant that those treasures that took the form of food didn’t quite last as long as they possibly would have otherwise). Thirdly, one of my closest friends, (the other member of the cake consuming cohort from the previous Christmas) had fallen sick with a bad cold, and so we were unable to continue our participation in this tasty tradition. Lastly, and most obviously, is time.
The fact is that the longer I am away from my home and my family and friends, the more I just want to be back there with them. The holidays especially encourage homesickness, and Christmas does this like no other time of year. And I think that it’s possibly made even more palpable by the fact that I know I shall be going home (just for a holiday mind you) come August 2014; and that seems like such an age away now, that the knowledge of it is eating away at my internal shields, which normally work to keep the loneliness at bay. Hearing about Carols by Candlelight from my mum (spookily just after I had a dream about going to the event myself), and seeing my friends post photos of all the Christmas light displays on houses around the neighbourhood certainly doesn’t help matters. Although I would definitely not wish to trade this window into their celebrations for anything; it just means I have to make more of a consorted effort to increasing the gaiety of my own holiday adventures in Nagoya.
Despite the changes, this Christmas hasn’t been completely devoid of holiday cheer. The fact that I had to work on Christmas Eve didn’t prevent me from organising an all-night Karaoke extravaganza. And while it might not have turned out quite as I had envisioned, a fun night was still had by all. After singing ourselves hoarse for around five hours (including the belting out of many a Christmas Carol) we topped it all off with breakfast at Denny’s, before dragging our sleepy selves to our separate homes to catch a few Zs before some of us met up again at a friend’s for Christmas dinner. She had put on quite the spread, and we spent quite an enjoyable evening stuffing our faces and watching movies. Of course it couldn’t compare to spending that time with family, but it definitely beat spending it alone, so I was grateful for the invite; and the people there were grateful for the wine and chocolate I had hastily thrown in my bag, once I realised that cooking was out of the question, given the late hour I had awoken.
And so, Christmas is over once again; although my holidays are only just beginning! While I had originally hoped to get out of the city for at least a day, now my aspirations are more along the lines of getting up before midday, and changing out of my pyjamas for long enough to go to the supermarket for supplies (neither of which I managed on this particular cold winters day). I do have a few rough plans with some of the other sorry saps who didn’t manage to escape the city, so hopefully my holiday will find some excitement somewhere along the line. If nothing else, my bank balance should be a lot happier than it was this time last year; and with any luck I shall return to work on the 6th of January feeling relaxed and refreshed and ready to jump back into the swing of things for an excellent 2014!