'time well spent'.
You might possibly have been wondering about the party for my students....the 3rd Annual Debbie and Friends Holiday Celebration that was last Wednesday....or not, I don't know.
I'm just assuming you might be because I've gotten some e-mails from friends
First of all....the dress?
Gorgeous. I looked so pretty...and kept singing that
"I feel pretty...oh so pretty..." song most of the evening.
The party itself?
One week later, I'm still a bit 'tingly' thinking about it. Two years ago, when I first had this shindig, 58 students were there. Last year, there were 47.
Yeah...you read that right. 80.
I had to laugh when the guy in charge asked me if this was a 'school party'.
No. Just me.
The oldest student is 88.
The youngest is 8...with many ages in-between
I didn't take very many pictures at all of the evening...too busy making sure it all went as planned.
The pictures I do have are ones that students have sent me.
There was entertainment....a speech (all in English) about Ernest Hemingway, some singing (one traditional Enka-style song and the other was acappella...opera-esque...Christmas music...I may have cried!), shamisen (traditional Japanese instrument) and bagpipe performances (yeah, bagpipe...one of my students spent a year in Scotland studying the pipes, Highland dance and English!), hula (three ladies from one of the groups I dance with came).
We had a lottery style present giveaway. There were about 25 gifts that were donated, most were handmade by students....jewelry, a decorative box, two hand knitted scarves from my Mom, a beautiful Christmas wreath, a bottle of French wine...to name a few.
But, the most popular ones were the handmade bags that one of my ladies does....a few of them were leather, some were from kimono material, and then there were a couple that were a mixture. The winners of those are never disappointed.
Then....a bag filled with 15 more presents (bags of potpourri, I think) was found, which gave 15 more people something they could take home. I'm still not sure who it was exactly that brought those, but I have a good idea. What a sweet thing to do.
Each person got a goody bag that I had put together.
(Where "made" means gluing material and small Christmas ornaments,
then sticking small magnets on the back.)
At each table, one person got a special "door prize"....the K-man went around and drew a star on the inside of one clothespin...that person got a bag Pepperidge Farms' cookies. One of my students donated a case of Veronas....there were 8 tables and 12 bags in a case...perfect. Some for my students...some for the Kuroiwa Family.
Overheard conversation that made me laugh:
Student 1: Hey! I don't have a star in MY clothespin!!
Student 2: You. Didn't. Win.
Oh...there was also a glass jar filled with various Christmas candies and whoever guessed the closest to how many were in the jar, got the jar...and the candies!!
Sure, it was a lot of hard work.
But...man oh man...it was worth it.
The best part though....was what they didn't see.
We usually bring a gift for a gift exchange...nothing too terribly big or expensive.
But, I decided this year to do something different.
You know how sometimes when someone says "the grass is always greener on the other side"....
sometimes....we are the other side.
My grandfather, when he was alive, always donated money through the church...especially during the holiday season. He also belonged to various organizations that were charitable ones.
In his honor and memory, my students and I helped make Christmas a little bit brighter for 37 kids at one of the orphanages here in Nagasaki City.
My family and I went toy shopping for the younger kids and then we bought gift cards for the junior high and high school kids. Each present was wrapped and labeled.
There was a little money left over so I went back to that really good cookie store downtown and they put together little packets of cookies...45 of them....with three cookies in each packet to give the kids...with a few left over for the Sisters who run the orphanage.
My friend, Hisami, went with me to deliver the presents. The students didn't get them until the 24th, but we got to meet some of the children and the Sisters told them that we had brought surprises for them all.
I got to be "Santa's daughter" and, Hisami and I both agreed that seeing those faces of the children we met, was just about the best thing to happen in a long time.
This wasn't a one-time thing....we'll do this again next year.
One of my students said that many Japanese will think about helping other they might donate money but not really think about what that money is used for or they will forget about helping out all together.
So this? Yeah. This was good.
And personally...it made me feel really, really great.
Merry Christmas, indeed.