Despite what my mother may be telling you, that isn't me wearing a reindeer costume being ridden by George Michael. I got a Christmas phone call this morning from my parents this morning demanding to know what the picture was about.
Thinking mostly of dramatic effect, I think I cranked up the pathos a little bit too high on that last post. Mom got a bit worried and sent an email out to both sides of my family asking everyone to drop me a line and cheer me up. Which has been wonderful, I've heard from most of the cousins and lots of you shared stories about Christmases alone and away from home. Best story goes hands down to Neil Moxham, but you'll have to hear it from him. Thanks to everyone for writing!
Just to reassure all of you, I'm going out tonight with an English teacher friend to see the new Hayao Miyazaki movie, which is a wonderful Christmas present on it's own. His new movie Howl's Moving Castle opened about a month ago, and broke the Japanese box office record for opening weekend sales set by his previous movie, Spirited Away. For any of you who haven't seen Spirited Away, Totoro, Princess Mononoke or anything else directed by Miyazaki, I can't recommend him enough. Despite being animated movies aimed at children, they tackle issues as major as how mankind can survive without destroying the environment that sustains us, and as everyday as people thrust into the working world and forced to fend for themselves. Even as he unblinkingly addresses these heavy issues his movies are steeped in a rich love for life and total awe at the world in all its details and ironies. His movies have that rarest of qualities: they fill you with the joy of living. In lieu of a Christmas with the family I can't think of a better Christmas present than that.