I made sure to make plans for each part of the day, to try to minimise loneliness, which would be awful on Christmas Day! I planned to watch a film with Katy and Dan, who couldn't make it from Kobe in the end due to flu, (Rob is in Kyoto with his parents until New Year), then go to a dinner we were invited to at ICU, and then meet some other friends who came from Kobe in the centre of Tokyo for karaoke or something afterwards.
Things didn't go exactly to plan, but everything turned out okay in the end.
I opened all my cards and presents in the morning after a lie-in (I figured the longer I sleep the less time I have to be alone!) and put them all out on my chest of drawers.
Katy had gone to meet her friend in Akihabara, and they both came back to watch 'About A Boy' with me at about 3pm. We watched that, but didn't quite make it to the end because I'd arranged to Skype with my family at 8am UK time.
I spoke to my family via webcam for an hour, and I watched my brothers sit on my parents' bed and open their presents. They put the laptop in the place I'd usually sit in so it really was like I was there. It was lovely to feel so close to them, despite being on the other side of the world.
The hour flew by and suddenly it was time for me to leave for the dinner at ICU. I felt so lucky that I could speak to them and take part in the family Christmas.
Katy and I left the guesthouse and cycled the twenty minutes or so to ICU. When we got to the teacher's house, everyone else was there, with glasses of wine sitting on the sofa or by the fire. She has a lovely Western-style home inside a traditional Japanese house. It's really interesting to be there.
It was decked out properly for Christmas, with the tree and stockings by the fire. It was so nice!
There were some lovely people there, including people from England, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. Katy and I were the youngest ones there, but it wasn't at all uncomfortable - everyone was very friendly. One of the other teachers (who was from England) brought her two year old son, and he was so sweet! He ended up dragging me into a game where I had to pick him up from one sofa and fly him to the other where his Mum was. Children are so cute!
The food came out at about 7pm, and it was such an amazing spread! It was all Western food, and it was exactly what I'd hoped for. It was all delicious, and we ate so much of it! There was even real mulled wine, which they gave to me and Katy to take home at the end of the night, because, being British, we were so excited to see it!
We had two helpings of the main course, and were stuffed! I really didn't think I could eat anything else, but then all the puddings came out! The Japanese idea of a separate stomach 別腹 (betsubara) was definitely true here!
The meal was absolutely fantastic. Everything was really well made, and the atmosphere made me feel really at home. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more.
I got a ring from Matt, who I was going to meet in Shinjuku after the meal, and he said that people couldn't stay out all night, and were going to head home in a couple of hours. That meant there wasn't really any point in me going to meet them for such a short time, so Katy and I stayed until the very end of the meal. I wasn't at all disappointed, although it would have been lovely to see them, I was having such a nice time I wouldn't have felt right about leaving early.
We helped clear away the dishes and chatted for a bit longer, and then cycled home at about 10:30pm. I spoke to my family again very briefly, as they were just leaving for a park near our house called Lickey Hills, for a Christmas barbecue in the snow.
And that was my first abroad Christmas! It was slightly lonely, but the atmosphere at the meal was so nice I completely forgot about it. I survived it! And next year I'll be at home with my family again!
Next up, New Year - which is much bigger than Christmas in Japan. I'm looking forward to it!