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Amparo Bertram

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06:52 pm: I laid some plans...you know, in that safe place you can never find again
I thought I was going to spend the day cozily sewing. That was the plan. But then I realized I desperately needed to do laundry and grocery shopping and go to the post office, and things just swung out of control from there.

I wound up working on my holiday postcard list. In Japan, it is traditional to send out postcards to everyone you know for the New Year. The post office saves them all up and, with the help of lots of schoolkids working for some extra spending money, delivers them all on New Year's Day. (I believe I recall hearing an announcement from the guidance office at my school that working for the post office was the *only* part-time job the school would allow students to have over winter break.)

Japan is heavily influenced by the Chinese Zodiac, so many of the New Year postcards are imprinted with the year's animal on them. This coming year is the year of the...um, rooster. Other popular motifs include cherry blossoms, cranes, and Mt. Fuji. Stores are filled with displays of postcards and rubber stamps that can be stamped on postcards and printers that will print out postcards and software that will design postcards and scanners or cameras that will take pictures to be printed on postcards...it's a total postcard frenzy. I was not immune; I mentioned earlier that I bought some clip art for making postcards. Today I've been printing a bunch out, and my poor printer has literally been working for hours.

The other holiday item that is filling all the stores is cake. Japan somewhere along the line developed the tradition that one must eat cake on Christmas. The fancier the cake, the better. There are ready-made cakes available to be ordered, topped with fruit or chocolate or fancy whirls of frosting or sometimes all three. There are plain sponge cakes for people to decorate themselves. And, of course, there are huge displays of every cake-making device imaginable. I'll tell you right now, it's incredibly hard to resist.

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