English Day – December 2020
This month I had the pleasure of giving the morning service in English. It being December, the topic was naturally Christmas. Whenever I think about Christmas, I am reminded of a Christmas Eve long, long ago, when I was three years old. It is one of my very earliest memories. Like many Japanese people who travel to their parents’ hometown at New Year’s, every Christmas we used to go and visit my parents’ families in a small village in Nova Scotia. The trip would normally take about three hours, with the last hour being spent driving along a narrow, curvy mountain road in the forest. There are very few people who live along this road and, even in the daytime on a beautiful day, it’s quite a lonely and scary drive. That year, like many years, it was snowing as we set out in the early evening. Gradually the snow being heavier and heavier, and the number of cars and houses fewer and fewer. The drive being more and more difficult and more and more frightening. If you have never experienced driving in snow, it may be difficult to imagine. As I write this however, hundreds of cars are stranded in snow on the expressway in Niigata Prefecture, so perhaps you can picture the scene. Finally, about half an hour from my grandparents’ home, on this very dark and lonely road, the car became completely stuck in snow. We could go no further. We also did not have enough gas to stay in the car with the heat on. So, with no other choice, and in the cold Canadian winter, we left the safety of the car and started to try to find some shelter. Very luckily, there was a house in a valley not too far from our car. We were able to see it because the lights were on and there was smoke coming from the chimney. We didn’t know the people who lived there but hoped, especially because this was Christmas Eve, that they would take pity on us and let us into their home. Upon reaching the house, we knocked at the door but no one answered. What could we do? Luckily at that time in rural areas of Canada, most people did not lock their doors. So we were able to open the door and enter the house. We were in the kitchen, the lights were on, the wood fire was burning warmly, but no one was there. It was all very strange. Perhaps the owner had gone to visit someone and then, due to the snowstorm, was unable to come home. We don’t know. All that we know is that we were incredibly fortunate and, thanks to that luck, were able to spend the night in the warmth of that stranger’s kitchen. The next morning my father heard the snow plough on the road, and we quickly rushed back to the car. We were able to follow behind the plough all the way to my grandmother’s house and arrive in time for Christmas morning.
I wish you all the best over the Christmas and holiday season. Despite the unprecedented challenges this past year due to corona restrictions, I’ve enjoyed a lovely first year here at Eiwa and am looking forward to getting back into the classroom in January and learning along with the students. Merry Christmas, everyone.