Japan is slowly warming up to Christmas, slowly discovering Christmas is about more than KFC chicken and strawberry cake, but there’s still a lot of confusion about the holiday. So when I asked my students what they wanted for Christmas from Santa, a lot of them had a hard time coming up with anything tangible besides “money,” and a lot of randomness ensued. Here are some of my favourites for your viewing pleasure:
10. “Money. (LOTS of it!)”
Money was a popular response so I can’t easily leave it off the list, but it is rather uncreative. This girl, at least, was more specific in her expectations.
9. Soccer cleats.
A popular request. A lot of my students are on the soccer team, and my school’s soccer team is one of the best in Japan – last year they went all the way to the national finals (and lost in the dying minutes of the game after having been ahead for most of it) and they’re headed to nationals again this year. One of my students from last year got sent to various countries afterwards to represent Japanese high school soccer, and apparently wished he’d remembered more English from my class. He’ll join the pro league when he graduates, maybe you’ll see him on TV one day!
I feel for this kid. These students are at school every day, all day, and usually on weekends. Then they have homework, rigorous extracurricular clubs, examinations outside of school to prepare for the future, and more than a few of them have to go home and take care of siblings in place of an absent parent. But sorry, kid, Santa can’t give you “time” in a package. You might be better off asking for one of these…
7. A delicious cake.
Think angel food, strawberries and whipped cream cake (this is no fruitcake to hold open your door with). Japan has a whole industry surrounding the creation of Christmas Cakes, which can be pre-ordered over a month in advance.
6. Direction in my life.
Once again, if you’re asking Santa, you’re asking the wrong person (unless you want to become one of his elves I suppose). I half-jokingly told the kid he’d have to ask Jesus for this instead, when the Japanese teacher (who as far as I know is not a church-goer) chimed in emphatically, “Yes! YOU should go to church and pray!”
5. The Earth.
A future world-dictator-to-be in my class? I’m not in the least surprised.
4. An omelette containing fried rice.
I suppose this is a more realistic request than some of the others. But I would NOT want to know what this would smell like after being shipped all the way from the North Pole!
3. A girlfriend.
This was a popular request among the guys, right after soccer cleats and comic books. Some of them even drew pictures of her. They’re the ones that chose an almost-all-boys school, so it’s a tough go for them I suppose. Once again, not exactly something Santa can help you with…
2. A small Eurasian flying squirrel.
Most kids ask for a cat or a puppy when they want a new pet… points for originality and randomness! This little guy is pretty cute I have to admit. But I feel like it’d be a crime to keep him inside unless you had a couple trees inside too.
1. A home.
Aww… it may sound cheesy but I had to give this one the top spot for two reasons:
First, I do think this kid was being entirely serious: he drew a picture of a house with people and everything. It was an unexpected break from all the other mostly frivolous requests. I don’t know this particular student’s situation, but I do know a surprising chunk of my high school students are already living on their own for various reasons. I hope if any of my students gets their wish, he does.
Second, being from a rather complicated family and being prone to traveling, home has been a transient concept for me for as long as I can remember. I grew up between two homes, added a third parental home when I got married, and a fourth if you count my husband and I as having our own. Thus Christmas in Canada has always been a complicated game of tug-of-war, trying to balance everyone’s schedules and requests for my presence (and presents). But, I would take that with all its frustrations any day over not having a home at all. Four homes is better than none.