Even though I can’t be home with my real family this year, I have been so grateful to have some amazing co-workers and friends. Every year, Hiroshi (a former co-worker & friend) has an early Thanksgiving dinner at his family’s house in Tsuchiura; this is the same place I mentioned in my Japanese Hospitality article a little while back. This year was no different. I got the phone call early last week saying that there’d be a get together around 2:00 on Sunday, Novemer 21st.
We all met at the Seven Eleven that close to all of our (the foreign teachers’) apartments. Hiroshi picked us up. Gareth, Marisa, Tony (we like to call him the legendary English teacher), were already in the car. Two of Hiroshi’s nephews (I think) were in the back seat, and the greet me with a friendly “Hallo,” which I thought was pretty cool. So we were all set, but where was Karl? At home, sleeping of course. We called him up, and he had the grogginess of sleep in his voice “Am I late?” He was. But to Karl’s credit, he got ready in all of five minutes. Of course he had to put his socks on in the car, but I’m just glad he made it.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Hiroshi’s but it’s the same charming place that it’s always been, clean, spacious, and comfortable. The only difference about this year’s party was that there were more people. Five of Hiroshi’s tennis club buddies came, too, and they were super nice guys…everyone was super nice. It’s why I like going in the first place .
My manager Tomomi Sensei was there (she is one of the coolest bosses I’ve ever had!) with here cute little girl (who actually was helping to make coffee), Atsushi (a former co-worker & the tallest Japanese man I know) and his family, Megumi (another staff member, who is really nice, but talks like a cartoon character…sorrry Megumi), and more. We had some amazing food (courtesy of Hiroshi’s Mom…she’s so freakin’ sweet) that represented the best of the eastern and western cuisine: nabe*, curry nabe, sushi, mashed potatoes with gravy, we even had turkey and cranberry sauce. For the next five hours, we talked together, we laughed together, the beer, wine, and sake kept flowing (even though I didn’t have any). By the end of the night, most of the people were pleasantly tipsy. We said our warm good-byes and got a ride with Tomomi Sensei back to Tsukuba. My belly was full, and heart was happy. I didn’t feel so homesick anymore. I was just happy to have to people to be with during the holidays. These are the same people that have always been here during the holidays, for the last three years, my overseas family.