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yokotree.JPG   Christmas season has brought many good memories to me. When I was a child, I was so excited about Santa Claus and presents found in the morning of Christmas Day. (This is what I hear, as  I do not recall the moment myself, but feel the excitement as I hear the stories.)

   Christmas songs we hear so often during this season bring back good memories of my high school days. (We just had XXth anniversary high school reunion in October!)  We (several hundreds of us) celebrated Christmas mass, sang hymns and other Christmas songs. (My favorite is “Oh Holy Night.”)  I recall that several of us visited senior citizens homes to sing Christmas carol. (One of my friends from high school who plays the piano still does private concert with her friends at various senior citizens homes today as volunteer, which I think is great.)    

   Christmas in the U.S. has a special meaning, much closer to New Year’s in Japan. It is the special day of celebrating the birth of Christ, thus some people go to church.  It is also one of the most significant days of the year for the families, as they try to get home for Christmas, as we do the same for New Year’s Day in Japan. 
  I spent many Christmas holidays with families of my friends while I was in the U.S. They usually invite people who are away from home to spend a special day with their families. It was always so much fun to spend few days with the families with kids.
  These past few years, I make it a rule to spend some days of December (not Christmas day), decorating the tree and exchanging presents with in New York with my family there. (This year, however, I had to cancel the trip due to various reasons.)   It brings so much happiness to be able to spend a day with the family. I also call my host parents in the U.S. on Christmas day.    Listening to the Christmas songs and singing at the mass makes me feel that we have many things to be grateful.

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