We spent much of December occupied with Christmas caroling in Ishinomaki.When we got back to Sapporo, the marathon began... baking, visiting, rehearsing, church all weekend, more visiting...
On Christmas Eve Eve (December 23) we headed over to our church (quite a trek--it takes an hour to get there) for rehearsal. We prepared music for Christmas Eve with 2 other church members--Makiko, who plays flute, and Yoko, who plays piano. Both are fantastic musicians, so it was fun to work with them. After rehearsal, we had temakizushi (a style of sushi which is commonly eaten at home) and went to a nearby onsen!
We had something similar to a Lessons and Carols service at church on Christmas Eve--クリスマス・イブ キャンドルイブニング (Christmas Eve Candle Evening). We alternated music with passages of scripture. Some of the songs were performed by Makiko, Yoko, Keith and me, and some songs everyone sang together. Yoneya-sensei (senior pastor) preached a short message.
|Takahashi-sensei read the Christmas story|
|Performing a Bach flute sonata|
|Yoneya sensei preaches the Christmas Eve sermon|
|Singing Silent Night with penlights|
|Makiko is on the left, and Yoko is on the right.|
(And surprise, our picture was in the Hokkaido newspaper... Keith was glad he didn't find out until afterwards...)
Christmas was a Sunday, so we were back at church for the service and party afterwards. The potluck was amazing. Then various groups from the church provided entertainment for everyone. And there was Bingo. It felt like everyone was tired from all the work to put together the Christmas Eve service (we were), so it was nice to relax and have fun together.
For fun, here are some stats.
Christmas potlucks: 4
Consecutive days spent at church: 3
Cups of coffee consumed: 15, at least
Number of times "Silent Night" was played/sung: 1205945 (that's how it felt, anyway)
KFC roast chickens consumed: 0
Christmas cakes consumed: 0 (maybe next year)
Loaves of cardamom bread given as gifts: 11
Pickles received from recipients of cardamom bread: 4 types
Bottles of tea consumed on the train to and from church: 6
People at our Christmas Eve service: about 70 (we usually have about 45 on Sunday mornings)
Electronic devices belonging to Keith which are now played with by church children every Sunday: 2
Result: the assistant pastor's daughters now love Keith (and his electronic toys).
For example, here is a conversation I had with daughter #2 a few weeks ago:
Me: みちるちゃん、お早う！ (Good morning, Michiru!)
Michiru: キースは？ (Where's Keith?)
Me: おい！ ちゃんとあいさつして！ (Hey, where's my greeting?)
In a nutshell, that was our Christmas. A good time was had by all.