Christmas in Japan

By Mary Lou Darst, author of War Ready: In My Father’s Shadow.

Americans on Mount Kurokuriyama made Christmas in Japan 
special. There were colored lights in the windows of the duplexes, 
and nearly everyone had a real Christmas tree decorated with 
colored lights and bright decorations. At school, we practiced 
singing Christmas carols and a Christmas pageant for the PTA 
program. I was asked to be an angel and stood with my arms 
extended while the choir sang, ‘Angels We Have Heard on High.” 
All of this brought traditions from the States to our isolated 
community on top of the mountain.

On Christmas morning, 
Frank and I found Japanese-made bicycles near the Christmas 
tree, and a small book, an English version, of traditional Japanese 
children’s stories, Old Tales of Japan by Yuri Yasuda. We both 
loved this book.

My father helped Frank learn to balance on his 
first two-wheeled bike. They were in the street in front of the 
duplex most of Christmas Day. My father pushed the bike and watched him balance, and then he ran to catch it before Frank 
fell or crashed. My cousin Helen taught me to ride her bike in 
Blytheville, Arkansas=-I still have the scars on my knees to prove 
it-so I didn’t have any trouble riding my shiny maroon bike. It 
even had handbrakes. I loved that bike, and I loved to ride so fast 
that my hair blew in the wind like it did when I stood next to my 
father on a ship’s deck. When we transferred back to the States, 
we left our bikes in Japan.Hatsie might have taken them home 
to her brothers and sisters.

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One Comment on “Christmas in Japan”

  1. naya says:

    Your section about how growing up in a military lifestyle has affected into adulthood hit home for me, I am 23, but since my teen years been battling with making connections with people. Now I am often distant with those I don;t know and come off as a bitch. However, once I let them in and consider them a friend I give my all 100% and expect them to. They never do so I always feel hurt. I am so thankful to discover this unknown subculture of american and my unknown society and “home”. Thank you and all the other military brats who are still affected by their childhoods.


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