My First Christmas in Nebraska (Part 2)

Just before we left for his folks’ Christmas gathering I got an unexpected buzz from the mailman. Don’t get me wrong, I loooove packages, but getting a surprise one is even better. I figured it was something from my family, but I was beyond surprised (and not to mention giddy) to see it was from Japan. The gift came from Emi, who was my last TA/tutor in Japanese. I never expected a gift from her, though. I love their packaging methods. I admit I wasn’t sure how to open it, but it went quicker than I thought. And ohhh, the sweet, sweet smell when I opened the package was lovely. I don’t know why, but all the packages I’ve gotten from Japan smell like…well, Japan. It’s a weird mix of bitter, green teas, newsprint and other papers. I can’t really describe it, but it’s very distinct.

So, what was in the package, you ask? Only the world’s collection of tasty, kill me with cuteness goodies, of course!! Click on each picture to see a more detailed description of the contents. She obviously remembered my love of all things cute/happy/sugary…

It was soooo much fun to get this stuff from her. I’ll have to send her something fun for Valentine’s Day or something. I was also very proud of myself that I could actually read (or piece together) the packaging to know what the items and flavors were. Sure gave me a run for my money, though. I guess I retained a lot of food-based words (not really that surprising, though).

So, then it was off to fun and excitement at his parents for the last bit of holiday fun. It was pretty darn chaotic with his two nieces (ages five and seven), but they loved every moment of it. Dinner was amazing. We had steak off the grill–yum yum yum yum yum–garlic bread, salad, corn and potatoes. I stuffed myself silly (mostly on steak and garlic bread). His nieces sang us some songs. Emma (seven) had written four Christmas-themed songs using tunes of well-known ones. She was a riot. I’m so glad Mike video’d it. Then, she sang songs with her sister, Savannah, from their Christmas concert they had performed at school. It was pretty cute as well.

Finally, it was time for all peace and quiet to end–the present unwrapping hysteria began. We were supposed to unwrap youngest to oldest one at a time, buuuuuuuuuuut…it worked for about three minutes. His brother Matt and his family brought in about three boxes of presents and had all the adults (his parents, us, his brother Steve and wife Lisa and his sister Jill and husband Chuck) play a Christmas-based trivia game for the gifts. Each of us would end up with five total, but there were some that allowed you to steal a gift or give a gift to someone else. There was also a gag gift (hillbilly hygiene kit–an “old” toothbrush, yarn for floss and a baby bottle of liquor for toothpaste). Some of the questions were kinda hard. I don’t remember a lot of the traditional Christmas songs anymore, I’m afraid. Plus, we manged to get like, three math-based questions. All I could think was, “booooo, that’s why I became a journalist–to avoid such horrors!” When it was all said and done though, everyone walked away with some really  great stuff. We got various goodies from Omaha Steaks (some hamburgers, steaks, chicken cordon bleu and pork tenderloin) and a puzzle box with $5 in it. I was thrilled to get the beef and Mike was thrilled to get some food for free!! Actually, he was excited for the pork and chicken and that I finally had some beef around the house. His parents gave us some lovely gifts, too. It was a great way to end the holiday season even though we got home super late. It kind of made up for the family Christmas I missed out on. I’m looking forward to next year.

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