Because my parents and in laws live in Japan, we usually spend Thanksgiving with friends in the area. What makes the holiday so special is that we get an intimate glimpse of someone else’s family life and gain a deeper appreciation of our friends when we meet their sisters, parents, and cousins. Conversation flows, we all learn a little more about ourselves, and for that we are thankful.
Last night, after the 8th bottle of wine was uncorked, the conversation gets more intimate and personal. This year we were talking about cultural differences and social norms. An observation was made about how people on the West coast tend to gloss over difficult topics and dance around controversy to avoid conflict, especially compared to what we were used to from our friends from places back East. Izumi, my Japanese wife, is sensitive to this as in Japan the line around what you say to others as opposed to close friends and family is particularly well-defined.
In Japan, directness is a privilege reserved for only your closest friends. This gets Izumi in trouble sometimes because she might say something to someone that puts them off when she was only trying to get a little closer to them. She says she comes off sounding “mean” but it’s not intended and this is especially hard for her to nuance because English is her second language. While explaining this, Izumi blurted out, I’m mean but I mean well!
Yesterday I had a nice suprise. Mark Prendergast, a childhood friend from when I was in 3rd grade, sent me a note filling in some details which I had left off my biography. Mark used to come over to my house and we would read my Tintin comic books and listen to The Goon Show tapes my dad had on his old reel-to-reel tape deck.
Mark lived a culturally rich life as he was up on a hill and was able to get the NBC channel that carried the Star Trek series. I remember being left out of all the playground conversations because I didn’t know what anyone was talking about. I was down in the valley and resorted to European comics where the hero always would exclaim “Hello?” when he was shocked and offbeat British humor.
Anyway, it’s nice to see that Tintin has left a mark as he says he now reads Tintin to his daughter. My sister, when she travelled to Thailand last year, brought me back a wooden replica of Tintin which sits on my desk at work – on his way to his next adventure.
Tyler called me on Saturday and told me to look in the drawer under my sock drawer where Izumi and the kids had stashed a birthday card for me before I left. He was so excited to tell me about the suprise and it was so sweet to have something from them to kick off the weekend.
Today is our 7th wedding anniversary. The way it’s been lately with our two kids and work, we’re lucky to catch a dinner at Applebee’s and call it a night out. Here are some old photos from simpler time before all that, when we were able to get all our friends and family into a room for a day of unfettered celebration.
She looks just as dazzling today as she does in this photo but she stopped wearing the veil years ago.
We had a gaggle of folks over for dinner on the weekend. Dav rolled up on his motorbike, fresh from a local Santarchy gathering in his St. Nick suit, and was joined by Mie. Here they are, pictured in t-shirts the kids made for them for Christmas. We also had over a bunch of old friends from our past that we knew from Japan or Guam and they joined us with some new friends that we’ve made here in Alameda.
Izumi cooked up a ton of food and we all gathered around to celebrate the kick off of the holidays. We all got so wrapped up in things that we missed the concert that was being held on our street. You know it’s a good party when the music gets drowned out by the conversation!
Doug’s been making progress on getting friendly with Julia and, as you can see in the photo, she’s warmed up to him quite a bit as the Yarringtons become more of a regular visitor.
The kids had a great time – I remember the excitement of having guests when I was little – getting to stay up late, all the attention – I think we finally go them off to bed around 11pm.
Thank you all who made it! I hope that we can make this an annual event.
The other great thing that happened this weekend is that we hooked up with some old friends from our Tokyo days for brunch at the Carnelian Room on top of the Bank of America building in downtown San Francisco. It was great to catch up with everyone but it’s hard to believe that we’ve all got kids. I had to do a double count before reserving a table for eleven!
The kids were much happier to when we finished and were away from the poached eggs & truffles and able to scream with great abandon in the parking garage.