Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25, 1953 Christmas at Kwansei Gakuin 59 Years Ago Today

Diary Entry:  Dec. 25, 1953

"Bob up first.  Brought sock to our bed to empty.  Waited for Ann to waken. All went down.  Flowers in hall from Kita-san and Teruko-san.  Kita-san had battledores under tree for children.  Teruko-san gave them geta and me a book of origami.

From Bonnie's origami collection
Opened gifts & after breakfast started dinner. Turkey already in oven.  Doorbell rang all day.  Mail came three times, gifts from neighbors all day for children.

Ann & I went to Brays for little tea party. 
Kita-san & Teruko-san left for the rest of day after dinner (ate dinner with us but would not sit at our table). Quick supper & children went to bed with toys.  Bob pulled his loose tooth after he went to bed--lower right front next to eye tooth."

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"Merry Christmas!  Our Christmas day is over but yours is just beginning.  I can almost hear Daddy banging the furnace door.  The children are asleep in bed now with toys piled all around them.  I'll have to take them out before I go to bed or Ann may be up playing dolls in the middle of the night.  We have had a big day and the children have been so good and happy but we've thought a lot about home too.  Bobby was the first one up this morning and found his filled sock.  He came slipping into our room and emptied all the things on our bed.  He and Ann had the same things in their socks--a bottle of olives, a chocolate Santa (Bob insisted it was an old man playing a fiddle & it didn't really look much like Santa) a box of caramels and a little rhythm toy like they had at kindergarten here.  Caramels are typical Japanese candy.  They sell them everywhere in little boxes for 20 yen (.05) and they are real good.  Bob had a hard time waiting for Ann to wake up & after she emptied her sock we all went downstairs together.  The first hing we saw was a big bouquet of flowers that Teruko-san and Kita-san had for us in the hall.  It had poinsettia, carnations, mums & white lilies in it.  We had lots of packages under our tree and the children didn't waste any time getting at them.  Bobby got a fishing rod & reel, a toy boat, an erector set, an accordian, a top, a book and some Japanese shoes (geta) and a Japanese game.  Our help gave the children both shoes and the game.  Ann loves to wear hers but Bob hasn't even bothered.

He says it is too cold.  I forgot to tell you what he told a neighbor about the sock he was going to hang up Xmas eve.  He was going to get one with a big hole and put a big box under the hole so Santa would have to keep putting things in the sock.  Ann got 2 dolls (one a funny stuffed Japanese doll that has a squeaker in its middle), a music box, an accordion, a toy car, some blocks, a stuffed animal (from University boys). 

The damascene compact

B got a gadget bag for his camera stuff, a book & a Japanese game something like checkers.  I got a carving set, a necklace, a compact & a piece of silk tweed.  

When we finally got ourselves dressed I helped Teruko-san get dinner and here is our menu--Turkey & dressing, mashed potatoes & gravy, candied sweet potatoes, cauliflower, apple nut salad in jello, olives, celery, carrot sticks & radishes, hot rolls, mincemeat pie & coffee.  Sounds good, doesn't it and I still feel like a stuffed toad.  We invited Teruko-san and Kita-san to eat with us but they did not want to sit at the table with us so we fixed them a table in the kitchen.  They always eat in the kitchen but Bob wanted them to eat with us so badly.  They are uncomfortable eating with knives & forks so that is all right.  They enjoyed their dinner anyway.  Kita-san always eats what we do but Teruko-san cooks her own Japanese food.  After dinner Ann went to a little tea party but Bob stayed right with his toys.  One of his friends came and played a while.  I think we amazed Teruko-san and Kita-san by telling them to do as they chose after the dishes were washed but I saw no reason for anyone having to work more than was necessary on Christmas day.  They went off happy and I set out leftovers for supper.  It seems that our doorbell has rung all day and we have had three mail deliveries.  People are still bringing cards and little presents for the children.  We got a nice gift from the Fulbright commission--a reimbursement for B's travel in the U.S. which amounted to almost $100.  We don't know how they figured it but on the basis of train fare which wasn't quite as much as the plane.  Our Christmas has been a big one and I am happily tired out so I think I'll say good night and finish this tomorrow.
Music box

This is Saturday night and the house still looks Christmasy even if we did take our tree out today for the children have had their toys everywhere all day.  We had turkey for supper again tonight and it looks like it will be turkey again for tomorrow.  

I'll go back in my diary now to where I wrote you last.  The stores and streets here were jammed  with shoppers shoving and pushing just as they are at home so we took the children shopping only once.  That was not a real shopping trip but to let them see the toys.  One department store had a life sized Santa at the toy department but he was bowing instead of laughing & chuckling like our Santas.  There was a newspaper photographer in the toys & he took the children's pictures.  Several days later there was a featured article in the paper on Christmas but we weren't in the paper.  I supposed he snapped a lot and chose the best ones.

On the 14th we bought a tree in the village flower shop and it was a real nice one.  The children had lots of fun decorating it & the only thing it didn't have was icicles.  We had lights & shiny ornaments, cotton & and a star.  It was a lovely tree and we all enjoyed it.  It was in front of a big double window and a walk is very near so lots of people stopped to enjoy it.  As long as the sun wasn't glaring brightly we had the lights on.

The Japanese women members of the women's club had charge of the last program so they had three musicians from a music school come and play for us on Japanese instruments.  They were a flute-like horn, a samisen (Japanese banjo) and a koto which is a long plank-like instrument with 13 strings which are plucked.  The music is unusual but interesting.  They played two modern Japanese pieces which were beautiful.  I hope we can get a record of them.  
One of the mission women and I have made preliminary arrangements with a Japanese woman to teach us Japanese water color.  We're to have our first class the last of January.  It should be very interesting.  The woman speaks some English.

The University Board of Trustees gave us a formal welcome on the 17th at a luncheon.  The food was all Japanese and very delicious but I didn't know what I was eating until I got home and B told me some of it was eel.  I'm glad I didn't know.  The luncheon started off with a custard which tasted like chicken and in this custard was baked chicken, nuts, pork & the eel.  It was really good.  Then there was tempura--shrimp, sweet potato slice, lotus root & mum leaves all dipped separately in batter and deep fried.  There was a big bowl of rice, green tea, a mikan (orange) and finally black tea with seaweed crackers.  We ate with chopsticks of course, but the waitresses brought B and me each a spoon which we didn't need.

That same day Bobby's kindergarten put on a Christmas program for the junior college.  Bobby was a shepherd and that night he went to bed signing carols in Japanese.  He is shy about his Japanese but seems to know a lot of it.

In the afternoon that day we gave B's students a party here.  We served cookies, candy & tea and had a lot of fun.  They brought some flowers to us and later brought Ann the stuffed toy and B a dictionary for Xmas.  The ones who come to our house are only a small group of the big English Speaking Club of the University.  B and I went to one of their big Christmas parties and it was very nice.  They had an all day affair on Christmas Eve and B went for a short while and gave a short talk on Christmas for them.  It is a very nice group of students.  

The University sent us a wonderful Christmas present--a big box of oranges and a big box of apples.  They are really good.

One of the missionaries is home from Korea for Christmas.  His family has to live here for at least two years before they can go to Korea.  We had prayer meeting at their house and he told about Korea.  He said the people there had such faith and were building churches when it looked like they couldn't build anything for the hills are bare of trees.  

We went to Bob's kindergarten Christmas program.  It was a typical Christmas program but all in Japanese except when they all sang "Merry Christmas to You" in English.  They even had Santa but the Japanese Santa is an old man walking with a cane.  They call him Grandpa Santa Claus.

The children had milk and doughnuts and the rest of us were served tea and cookies.  Each child had a gift--a lovely small cake and it was very good.  Now Bob is home for vacation until Jan. 8.  The children also got a Bible story book in Japanese.

Last Sunday we went to one of the Japanese professor's homes for tea.  He has lived in America, his wife was born there and his son was born in Chicago.  The boy has been fighting in Korea with U.S. troops and has gone back to America to finish his schooling.  He told his parents he would never come back here to live and they approved.  We had a very nice time and really enjoyed the afternoon.  Mrs. Arai teaches in a commercial college and some of her students were there to meet us.   Kita-san took the children to the zoo while we were gone and they had a time.  He let them ride on everything there.  It is an amusement park, too and they had fun.  Teruko-san was baptized that day so it was a big day for us all.

I finally made the chiffon cake and it turned out very nice.  I sent it to the party at the church for the G.I.s so don't know how it tasted.

Last Wed. night was our party for the missionary families--10 families and about 30 people in all.  Our little program was so nice.  Bobby was the H when they spelled Christmas and then in the pageant he was a shepherd, a wise man & a king in different scenes.  Ann was the angel that appeared before the shepherds and she looked like a real one.  She was all in white with tissue paper wings & her hair combed down.  In another scene she and I were Indian mother & child worshiping at the manger.  Then we had coffee, cool-aid for the kids, cookies & nut bread sandwiches.  I had made six kinds of cookies and two kinds of nut bread so we had lots to eat.  Everyone enjoyed it so much.

Images from the Golden Book of Christmas, 1953

Christmas Eve the Kwansei Gakuin church carolers came around and we served cookies and cocoa to the 25 singers.  They sang all the good old songs in Japanese but ended with Merry Christmas in English.  

Tell Beulah and Rosalynn I'll try to write to them soon.  Both of them wrote letters that go here Christmas Eve.  I owe Mabel a letter too.  Rosalynn's letter had been wet and a lot of it was completely gone--something about pictures & a tea pot.  She'll have to write it again.

Don't get too gay on New Year's Eve."

                      Lots of love to you all,



 To the Kwansei Gakuin community, family, friends and readers far and wide, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a peaceful and happy New Year!  Thank you for reading!


  1. Dear Ann, what an absolutely lovely Christmas post. Thank you very much for putting so much time into today's festive offering. I especially loved seeing some of Bonnie's origami collection. Origami fascinates me so much. Perhaps one day I'll try my hand at it (I think we made cranes or swans in grade school ones, but that's about all the origami I've done to date).

    May your Christmas season sparkle with joy and merriment, my dear friend!
    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you Jessica! I'm sorry to be so slow in replying and I'm pleased that you enjoyed the Christmas letter! Some origami is very simple and we have many of the popular cranes on our Christmas tree. I know that you had a wonderful Christmas and hope that your 2013 is as good or better than your stellar 2012!

  2. This is the first Christmas I can remember- excited and hardly sleeping. Pre dawn exploring the tree and finding a stocking full of presents.

    1. Would you like your toys back after all these years:-)


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