I opened the paper this morning, and there I was!
I had recently submitted a Christmas story to our local paper, The Northern Light, and had no idea whether it would make it into the Christmas stories section. Not only did it make it in, but I got my own headline, too!
Here is the story I wrote:
The Paper Tree
by Dawn Blanchard
In November 1997 I boarded a plane bound for Japan. I had been hired to teach English in Hamamatsu, and I was on my way.
Twenty-five hours and more than 10,000 km later, I arrived jetlagged but excited in Osaka. The Shinkansen (more commonly known as the “Bullet Train”) took me to my new home. For the next year, I would be living with a girl from England and one from Northern Ireland.
Christmas in Japan is significantly different from in Canada. For one thing, it is not a national holiday. On that first Christmas in a foreign country, I had to teach for the full day while back home my family was celebrating. Christmas in Japan was more a romantic holiday than a family one; gifts exchanged among couples were more common than those given to children.
A whipped cream, strawberry-topped Christmas cake could be bought; a roasted turkey could not. Department stores were decorated for the occasion. Intricately designed stationary and holiday-themed anime lined the shelves.
There was not, however, a Christmas tree to be found.
My roommates and I did our best to make the holiday festive. We cooked a meal of vegetables, rice, and chicken, and toasted with sake. We even bought a Christmas cake.
There were a few gifts wrapped in Christmas paper that had been sent from our families, but the ones we bought for each other were wrapped in plain paper. There was no silvery garland to hang from the ceiling; there were no snowmen to stand on shelves. We had gifts, but no tree to put them under.
So, I decided to make one.
On a large sheet of yellow paper, I outlined a Christmas tree with black marker. We drew a feathery garland and added a few sporadic ornaments in green and red and blue. One of us drew a crooked star at the top.
Published in The Northern Light, December 24th, 2013.