last christmas was awful - we spent it in the emergency room at a rural hospital in canada with a suspected case of appendicitis. fortunately we were the only people there so they moved us to the patient lounge where there was a christmas tree and a TV, and we played quite a few hands of cards while we waited for the bloodwork to be sent by taxi to the next hospital and come back. that sounds weird, but if you`re not canadian, let me tell you our healthcare system is pretty great. it`s free. it turned out to be a snow-shoveling injury (oh canada). anyway, it seems like we`ve had a long couple of years since leaving japan and so this year with things being a bit more settled, i`m feeling the urge to get a tree, to decorate the apartment, and to attempt some savory western cooking. our normal decorating tradition is pretty simple, we have a collection of champagne corks from all our celebrations over the last 8 years tied up with green and red yarn, but this year i feel like going a bit over the top. it doesn`t seem to be just me either. my expat friends seem to be in the holiday spirit extra early this year, perhaps brought on by the christmas music playing on loudspeaker in the malls and outdoor shopping arcades, and the wreaths that have been popping up since the halloween push was over. the logistics are a bit difficult this year as we have no space for storage in our apartment, and we don`t have a car, but i hope we can make a little magic happen in here. until that happens, i thought i`d at least decorate my blog with a few virtual christmas ornaments. i especially love the dolphin ornament, and the cinnamon roll! the bookshelf is there to help me reduce pre-existing clutter to make space for a little tree. even my daydreams are clutter free. lol.