Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If it's steak, it must be Christmas

It is a custom here in Japan, twice a year, for many people to give 'thank you' gifts to co-workers, bosses, teachers, friends and relatives. In the summer, ochugen, is given sometime in July and in winter, oseibo, is usually delivered from the beginning to about the third week of December.

Departments stores and convenience stores offer a wide variety of things to be delivered....or you can order from special catalogues. One will spend anywhere from 3,000 yen (about $30) to 20,000 yen ($200) for these gifts. A boss will get the high-end one where a teacher may receive a 3,000 or 5,000 yen box. It's all about gratitude....the more it costs, the more gracious you seem. (Personally, I sometimes view this as very expensive goma suri....sesame grinding, or...ass kissing apple polishing to you and me! I tell my students, goma suri is never refused!! :-D)

What comes in one of these boxes? (you may be asking?) Well....pretty much anything is the answer to that question. Different kinds of soy sauce, pasta and sauces, fruit juices, dish washing soaps, boxes of laundry soap, cooking oil...are some to name a few.

And what did we get here, at Kamp Kuroiwa? (again with the questions!)

Well....the first one to arrive was a box of ham.
The sandwiches and omelets we made were quite delicious!!

We also got a couple of boxes of beer. (From some very gracious students that know what I like!!! I do so love goma suri!!!)

One of the boxes was just beer, 2 different sizes of cans while the other box was not only beer, but also fruit juice for the boys....the "family set" like the picture on the bottom right. pictures of ours, as the box was soon emptied, didn't think about taking a picture until it was too late!!

A few years ago, I was teaching a group of girls that were in Junior High. Every year, they would give me the 'thank you' gifts to show their gratitude. I appreciate the thought that goes behind this idea, but...this with this particular group of students...I had to laugh. For three years running, they gave me the same gift for the summer gift.....soap. Not just any kind of soap, but....decorative soaps...a whole bunch of them in a BIG box....more soaps than one person could use in a year's time...and I got three of them, ya'll!! I ended up dividing them up and giving them to some older students of mine...they loved them. Of course, when I told them that the class of Junior High girls I taught was stopping, one of the ladies said, " more soap!!". We all laughed about that!!!

For the past 6 years, one of my favorite classes has given me oseibo that all of us look forward to...nay.....wait for, patiently. While many classes will give me a little something extra in the month of December, this class gives us something that is "really juicy and delicious", as Issei says.
Four of for each of us.

We cook them on the grill in the middle of our table....

....and it's a great evening for all of us!!!
It's a meal that we all enjoy....really enjoy!!!

In talking about these gifts to my students, I tell them that, in America, we sometimes do something similar...neighbors and friends will make things to give to each other during the holiday season. I think that this is one of the things I miss most about the holidays....peanut brittle, caramel popcorn, different kinds of chocolates and other yummilicious goodies..
So...what about you? What do YOU do, to show your gratitude to those around you?
If you share with me, then I can tell my students and show them that we all do things to show the people around us that appreciate them and care for them.
That part of not a cultural thing, it's more a warm and caring human thing.


JO said...

Here in Northern Indiana - in Amish Land - homebaked goodies are definitely the "goma suri" the teachers and folks that impacted the Oz family over the last year received (all homemade) gourmet caramel apples (with three types o'chocolate and homemade toffee), caramels, peppermint biscotti, caramel corn, bavarian mint fudge, brown sugar pineapple fudge, and Buckeyes.

No insulin pump...but one should have probably been provided as well.

If you are lucky enough to have Amish Friends, you will receive homemade cinnamon rolls, friendship breads, whoopie pies (a cakelike cookiie with frosting in the middle..think Giant Soft Oreo with tasty Buttercream), and all kinds of old-school German Goodness from the kitchen. (Try to explain Amish to your students - that would be a tough one!)

You are right D, it isn't a cultural is definitely a neighborly thing...all across the globe!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love all your cool.
I do some baking and then I sometimes put little baskets together for families with hot cooca mix, marshmallows and peppermint sticks. It is the thought and not so much the $ spent.
Merry Christmas!!!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I've been posting about this very thing. Recipes included!

My husband's old employer used to get us an Omaha steaks gift pack--I did love that.

Yarni Gras! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yarni Gras! said...

I bake....and bake....and bake. I even bake organic dog bones for people who have pooches. I craft it :-)

Merry Christmas!

Ginaagain said...

I am totally drooling over your dinner. It looks delicious!

I mostly bake for friends and neighbors although I do keep a few boxes of candy, a few pounds of coffee, and christmas ornaments on hand just in case someone that I haven't seen in a while drops by. Today I baked cookies; chocolate spritz, cream cheese almond, mint chocolate chip and cranberry crumble bars, plus an eggnog bread pudding for a dinner party tonight.

Cruise Mom said...

I used to make lots and lots of sweet treats for friends and family. Then I would make small scrapbooks. These days I'm doing good just to get cards out!

Those steaks sure look delicious...

Merry Christmas!

Janet said...

Deb...those steaks look delish! Are those from the cows that are fed beer and massaged?

I was told I don't show gratitude recently...that I take things for granted. I don't think I do that at all...but...

Generally, I send that you notes...possibly donate to a charity in the person's name...or send friends pieces of my Mom's jewelry ;-)