July 4th went by without a single boom or bang. No hotdogs or patriotic concerts. Can you imagine July without a fireworks show? What about Labor Day without BBQ, backyard or beach? Or Thanksgiving without turkey or family gatherings? Something would be missing, wouldn’t it? What if Christmas or Easter weren’t even holidays? This is life in Japan. Yes, it does feel incomplete at times to this expat.
True, Japan has its own holidays. But to be honest, many of them lack appeal to me. I know I could probably learn a few things from Japan’s “Respect for the Aged Day” and “Physical Fitness Day.” But many holidays like “Sea Day,” “Mountain Day” and “Setsubun” (google it) have distinct Shinto values and make poor substitutes. And don’t get me started on Japan’s swapping of the Baby Jesus’ birthday with the emperor’s birthday in late December. That’s no celebration!
So, after 16 years here, we recognize that some things will remain a loss in our lives. I (Kevin) probably mourn this loss more than Kaori or Justen, both raised in Japan. But just when I start to feel like a martyr by settling for the skinny Japanese porkdog, in a top-cut bun, with the seaweed sprinkles and the horseradish mustard that clears my nose, I sense God asking, “How long will you mourn these small losses, Kevin? Whose kingdom’s celebration are you living for?” And I remember that I’m not at home in this world anyway, and look toward the eternal celebrations out of this world. Thank you, Lord, for good things to come!
(But next time we’re in the States, treat me to a decent Chicago hotdog.)