Chika and I, we don’t really care about Christmas.
About Easter, or Halloween.
Apart from the lost pandemic year of ‘20 and ‘21, Hana has been celebrating her birthdays outside of Melbourne, and that’s by design.
Because we can’t give a flying toss about invitations, RSVP, goody bags, presents, making small talk …
But somehow the culture seeps through the cracks.
If I ask her right now what they mean to her - Christmas, Easter, Halloween, birthdays - she will say candies, chocolates, dressing up, presents.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard of sichi go san (seven five three).
The rite of passage to celebrate kids turning - you guessed it - three, five and seven years old, usually during November.
In Japan, you can hire kimono to celebrate sichi go san, and then return it.
We’ve done it when Hana turned three, but she missed ‘five’ last year, so this was a belated replacement.
She dressed up in the morning, we went to the local temple to pay respect, and that was it.
What I did not expect, was for the whole family to come and help her celebrate.
A full family affair.
As I was documenting the whole thing, walking in the rain, it felt like I was photographing a wedding.
After that, she changed out of the kimono, we packed everything in a box, ready to be mailed back.
And we made a last minute booking at a local sushi ‘shop’ run by an old couple.
It’s no over the counter sushi, but the kids had the most fun. The price came to $400 … for a party of twelve.
There were no presents, no lollies, no chocolates, no balloons, no birthday song, cake or candles.
She may not realise it yet, but it’s in her blood now.
One day she will remember:
Grandpa tying the knot on her dress, grandma’s lipstick, the rain falling on the umbrella, how heavy the kimono felt, the wish she made in the temple, the taste of sea weed from the cucumber rolls, the group photos, laughter.
She had fun, she had attention, she learned about culture, history whilst surrounded by people who cares about her.
I’m a little envious.
I mean, that’s the sign of good parenting, right?
A little envy from your parents.
Good news everyone, today, exactly four weeks after I tested positive, I smell foul things.
Like old grease, smelly pork, morning breath … which means I can smell fermentation, umami. One of my biggest fear for the last weeks was not knowing how stinky I was. At the same time, I will miss the liberation. If I can’t smell my own stench, then it’s not my problem. I must be perfect! Is this how Karens around the world feels like all the time?
A lovely story so well-told and moving. Well done, you.
I'd love a world without having to put up with the widespread Xmas, Easter, and any other religious traditions and celebrations.