When I first came to Japan, American-sized Christmas trees were very rare. The few people who did set up a Christmas tree usually had a small table top one and nobody decorated their houses with wreaths or Christmas lights. Around this time, my aunt who lived near Washington, D.C. started a tradition of sending me an official White House ornament every Christmas. She kept this up for over ten years and I saved them all, hoping that one day I would have a tree large enough to hang them on. A few years later, my dream came true and I hung these and other ornaments that had sentimental meaning on my large tree. Who cares if it took up half my Japanese-sized living room?!?! I was celebrating Christmas in style!
The first Christmas after BIG BOW English Lab opened, I made the decision to set up this big tree with these special ornaments at the school. I wanted to share the spirit of Christmas with my students. My students love looking at the tree and asking questions about the different ornaments. Over the years, I started adding new ornaments I thought they would enjoy, such as a Sponge Bob Squarepants ornament or a Spiderman one.
It's really interesting to see how my friends from other countries hold on to their Christmas traditions while living in Japan. They make the effort to learn how to make their favorite holiday foods from scratch or order Christmas movies on that they watched as a child. Sometimes its a heavy burden to know that keeping up holiday traditions rests on your shoulders when December is such a busy month anyway. However, there is a lot of freedom in that because you can pick and choose the traditions you love most , do away with the ones that don't make you happy, and even create some new ones for your family and friends to enjoy.