Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 12, 1953 A December Letter, The Maples, The Christmas Rush, One Common Creed and Cookies

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"The last of November we went to see the maple leaves at Menno, ( Mino) a national park.  It really isn't very far from us but takes a long while to go on the train because we had to change trains several times.  You can go anywhere in Japan on the train if you don't mind changing trains.  It was a real cold day and the sun kept going behind the clouds which made it seem colder.

The park is in the mountains and roads and trails wind up the mountain beside a deep ravine.  A stream of water runs down the ravine and is quite deep but the water was so clear you could see the bottom.  Most of the maple trees were old for they were very large and there were hundreds of them.  The limbs are grey or greyish green and grow with a crooked gracefulness--if you can call a tree graceful.  But the shape of the tree is beautiful even without leaves.  The leaves are mostly small (2 or 3 inches across) and sharply pointed.  The colors are of every imaginable shade of red, yellow and green.  The mountain was dotted with blooming camellias--white and shades of pink.

The whole thing was beautiful beyond description and they say that there are other places where the maples are even more beautiful.  Along the trails were little shops selling toys and souvenirs and many of them were selling leaf tempura--maple leaves dipped in batter and fried in deep fat.  We didn't buy any.  Women were wading in the water gathering the perfect leaves in big baskets.  I suppose they were to be fried.

It gets pretty cold at night so we have had to buy more bedding.  We bought a double blanket for Bob's bed and had a Japanese quilt (futon) made for our bed.  We have twin beds shoved together like ours at home so we had it made big enough for them and it will be nice to bring home.  The Japanese quilts are very thick but very small and the man who made this thought it was a real joke that we wanted one so big.  It is stuffed with silk floss and covered with silk.  It is a good two inches thick and tacked like a comforter.  It is very soft and the warmest cover I have ever slept under.  We think it is wonderful and after one of our neighbors saw it she is having one made.

The Christmas rush is on.  The stores are decorated beautifully and you hear Christmas carols over loud speakers downtown.  The women's club had a lovely program at their meeting Dec. 1.  It was about Christmas customs in different lands and the women from the different countries all took part.  The German woman gave a beautiful talk about their customs.  Then there was one from Sweden (in her Swedish dress), and several others.  The refreshments were also made by the different nationalities and I never saw so many goodies.

Yesterday I went to the women's group at the church and they had another nice Christmas program.  It is interesting to see all these women of different countries and with different languages, studying in English, one common creed.  The church is the Kobe Union Church--non-denominational.  After the program they served tea and coffee with tiny mince pies and Christmas candies of different kinds.

Bobby and Ann have both had terrible colds.  Bob took it first and was really sick with a high fever.  Then when he was almost ready to go back to school Ann took it but I've kept her in and she wasn't as sick as Bobby.  They are both all right now.  Bob seems content in school now and is interested in the ABCs right now.  There is a new mission family here now and their little girl is going to kindergarten too.  That makes three American children down there.  Bob is learning his numbers and I don't know what else.  We just have to wait for him to tell things.  If we ask, he just can't remember.  He understands quite a lot of Japanese too.  I admire his teacher a lot.  I'm sure the American children make her work much harder and she tries hard to keep them happy.  Ann has picked up a lot of Japanese too.  Half of it she doesn't understand but she can certainly be funny when she comes out with a long Japanese sentence at the proper time.  Teruko-san always laughs and laughs at her.

I have been making a batch of cookies or candy almost every day but can't seem to accumulate much.  We are giving a Christmas party on Wed. and one on Thurs. for some students and I want to have cookies for them.  Then we and the people next door are giving a party for "missionary row" and I'm furnishing the refreshments.  She is doing the entertainment part.  It will take about a bushel of cookies for that, I guess because there are about 35 people in these ten houses.

The University had a sukiyaki party for the adults in our row but Bob was not quite well and Ann was taking the cold so I didn't go.  B went and did enjoy it.

I keep talking about the weather but I can't get used to the idea of it being mid-December and still so warm in the daytime with flowers in the yard.  I picked two nice red roses today.  And then I picked some evergreens and made a centerpiece with a red candle for the buffet.  Last Saturday the gardener came, raked a few leaves and then mowed the lawn.  B said he must be getting the yard ready for Christmas.

B went to see our University play a football game.  They play American football but after the game is over the two teams line up and bow to one another.  Instead of popcorn, they sold peanuts, dried squid (a fish) and pop at the game.

Teruko-san finally finished the blouse for my suit.  She did a beautiful job and it fits so nicely.  She has the suit cut but I don't think she has sewed on it yet.  I want it for next fall anyway so I'm in no hurry.  I watched her cut it and would give a lot to learn how to make a pattern like she does.  I'm going to see if she can teach me but her English is very limited and I know no Japanese so don't know how far we will get with it.

Did I tell you we were getting the Mirror right along?  It is a month late but interesting to have anyway.

I haven't made my chiffon cake yet but am going to right away.  B's students come every Wednesday and Thursday and I always have tea and cookies for them so I may make them a cake once in awhile.  The women's club of the church provides refreshments every Monday night for the Kobe R&R program.  That is a program of rest and recreation for boys on leave from Korea.  I have promised them a cake and will probably make a chiffon since it makes such a big one.

No, I don't buy the McCalls.  I could get it but the Journal costs me a little more than .60 and I like it better than McCalls so buy only the one.  It is about a month later than at home, too.

I had a letter from Bessie.  Roger has only a five day leave at Christmas but she talked like he would be home.

I hope all of you are fine and happy.  Take good care of yourselves."

                            Lots of love,


NOTE:  For the chiffon cake recipe, use this link to an earlier post:

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