I have to confess that I am among the ranks of those who wish we could boycott January. I have been known to call him bad names before. He often represents to me frozen digits, post-holiday letdowns and take-downs, and just the blues in general.
One thing that I’ve found that helps me — and maybe others who dislike this Month as well, is making or celebrating rituals! Creating rituals that help us to remember, re-focus. I realized that this week has been a good one because we’ve had — or more importantly made — three events of celebration.
On Sunday night we had a double-birthday celebration for our friend Y. and her mom, Mrs. I. They are our neighbors and our dear, dear friends. Dessert request was blueberry pie — we all loved celebrating these two very special ladies in our life!
On Monday morning, Ian and I took the bullet train and went to Shizuoka. We had to meet with Sarah, the director of the adoption agency, to begin the paperwork for his adoption process. She and I each signed letters of agreement concerning the intent of our adoption, and we hankoed it (hanko is a Japanese name stamp; forgive my making it into a verb). For those of you who’ve heard us talk so much about Sarah — here’s a picture of her with our newest!
Upon returning back to Sanda, Eric also signed both copies of the two letters, hankoed them, and we returned one of each copy to Sarah via mail. It felt good to get this done.
When we got home, Owen also was excited that we had completed the first step. (“Mommy, did you finish all the paperwork already?” We didn’t explain that it will take a few more years, but we were all happy about this first step being completed). He reminded me that we hadn’t had a kampai night yet to celebrate Ian’s coming to us (kampai is the Japanese word for cheers.) As a family we try and celebrate big, and sometimes not-so-big, special events using special green plastic goblets that our friend Cathren had sent us. It was a fun night of celebration with sparkling grape juice, dinner, and Beard Papa cream puffs.
Finally, on Thursday I teach a beginning ladies’ English class in our home every week. Our friend Mary teaches the intermediate level in the next room, and then we have a combined chapel time/tea time. About ten women are a part. Thursday marked two years since I began the class, and it was also the day that we completed the first level text book. It’s a big accomplishment for these ladies! So we had a special graduation ceremony, complete with certificates.
As I passed out the diplomas, I shared how God had brought each of these different special women into our lives –we had to pass around the tissue box! We shared about chance encounters at the mall that led to a special friendship; a friendly face at the kid’s school; our older friend T. who found a flyer for our class on our neighbor’s kitchen floor covered in coffee and banana! She salvaged it from the trash pile and came the next week, unable to speak a word of English. Two years later, she received a special gift for being the most improved English student:
At the end of class, one of the members said, “Every time I come here I feel the presence of God.” That was the most wonderful thing anyone could have said . That’s what it’s about and why we are here. It was a simple but special celebration marked by God’s blessing and presence.
So, Mr. January– you won’t get the best of me yet! Final January posting will be Rituals Part II…