Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chisai mono*: The Little Things.

I once came close to getting a tattoo of a Japanese origami paper crane on my rib cage (sorry Grandma and Papa). The symbol held a great deal of meaning to me, but mostly I just wanted a tattoo. As a rather fickle person I decided against it and remain tattoo-free.

Yesterday I had a horrible day at work. The kind of day where I understood Japanese "mental sick" leave, and why one of my favorite English teachers, at 52-years-old, is calling it quits come March. However, as I have learned, when there are lows, highs will inevitably follow.

My high came when a student approached me with a simple origami crane that he made from his lunch napkin. Although he laughed as he handed it to me, most likely because it basically was garbage, I took it as a peace offering on behalf of the entire student body.

A few hours later it got even better. A teacher asked me to choose a sticker from a special New Year's pack that she had just bought. After thoroughly looking over the selection, I chose this one.

She then took it from me and peeled away the top layer to reveal my fortune. Her face lit up as she told me that next year I will be very lucky. She said I got the best one.
It is working already, considering I got this in the mail today.

*I am not entirely sure that is how you say "little things" in Japanese.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ii Fuinki: Good Atmosphere

I finally finished preparing my holiday lesson for my Junior High School. I wasted two days of free periods creating a plan-your-own holiday party lesson plan with a corresponding PowerPoint presentation. I debated including a Hanukkah slide, so I consulted with my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) as to whether or not it would completely confuse the students. Ms. Katanaga admitted to me that she had never heard of the holiday. She then consulted with another English teacher, and moments later, the entire English department rolled over to my desk in their chairs, so as not to leave the warmth of their lap blankets behind. After my impromptu Judaism:101 lesson, the teachers all agreed that I should throw my Christmas-centric PowerPoint away, and completely focus on the Jewish religion and Hanukkah.

This morning, Ms. Katanaga and I decorated the room that we will use for the week-long Hanukkah lesson. I made a Menorah out of construction paper and set up the six little dreidels that my mother so kindly shipped me in the mail. In the midst of proudly writing the new vocabulary words, such as Jewish, celebration, and miracle, on the board, Ms. Katanaga noticed a Christmas CD that I was planning to use at one of my elementary schools lying on the desk next to my flashcards. She asked if she could play it, and of course I consented. Alvin and The Chipmunks sang Jingle Bells as we finished our Hanukkah preparations. The irony and music momentarily warmed my freezing body. After the CD finished its three songs, Ms. Katanaga looked disappointed and played it again from the beginning.

Just as I felt growing up, the perfect harmony of Hanukkah and Christmas had been achieved. No tree but a menorah, and all of the holiday spirit that comes from listening to music while day-dreaming about the things to come.