Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve. Wow. It's been about a month since I last posted. Don't know if I'll get time to back fill the days or not, but I'll start here for now.

My former host family from Hokkaido is here, Mama (Mrs. Kishi), Mika (Hosokawa), and Shohei (Hosokawa, 4 yrs.). They arrived on December 18th and we've been having a great week together.

We met Mika's six sixteen year old girls (English students) for lunch at the Grand Cafe. I was delighted to find that they really enjoyed this restaurant.

Then after a quick stop at Whole Foods so Anna could pick up some Christmas dinner items, Mama, Mika, Shohei & Anna traveled up to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church for Children's Mass. We met Linda there, and it was quite the scene with more children than I've seen in years milling about. The church is beautifully set in a wooded area, and behind the alter is not a wall, but 3 panels of floor to ceiling windows. The service started with a nativity play, and Mary was seen on horseback (yes! a real horse!) parading back and forth in front of the windows so all could see her traveling pregnant to Bethleham. She had the baby somewhere outside I guess, as the next scene had her and Joseph coming in the back doors and down the corridors with baby Jesus in arms. It was a warm and wonderful service with children front and center. Olivia was singing and waving to us from the children's choir. Shohei was invited to join in, but was too shy.

After the services we drove to the Silverado, and after Yalda gave us a wonderful tour of her Spa, we had our Christmas Eve dinner at The Grill at Silverado. It was really a delicious dinner. I had the coconut prawns with slivered cucumber and saifun salad. Linda had rather a start to see that many of the continously playing photos of the resort in the restaurant alcove featured Yalda as a model, with a lot of skin showing... discreet, but just enough to make a mother uncomfortable. Shohei & Olivia were in high spirits and at one point were twirling around together, kissing each others cheeks. Olivia announced that she was going to marry Shohei, and Shohei said rather firmly that he did not want to get married!

There was so much talk of Santa Claus coming down the chimney and leaving the children gifts that I thought I'd best make sure Shohei wasn't left out of this fun (I gave them my Christmas gifts earlier since they needed to judge the size for packing). So we stopped briefly on the way back and I got some chocolate chip cookies to leave for Santa as well as a stocking and some stuffers to appear in the morning from Santa Claus (see the upper left photo). Shohei left some milk and a cookie for Santa.

As you can see above, Santa took a bite of cookie, drank the milk and left Shohei a return note. We also had a great time tracking Santa at the NORAD Santa tracking site.

I'm now sleepy too, so will go to bed now. Tomorrow is another day.