How grateful I am for the beauty of the day we call “Thanksgiving.” For the traditions and normalcy produced from gratitude all those years ago. And how grateful I am for the non-normalcy that will make this year’s Thanksgiving stand out over the years even as life stretches further and further away from it.
We met up with my brother and his wife and almost-two-year-old baby Zara in Japan and feasted on authentic Japanese curry after a day of exploring some temples in Kyoto adorned with the most vividly rich fall leaves we have ever seen in our lives. I think the curry tasted even more delicious due to the fact that we were starving to death and our legs felt ready to fall off by the time we actually found the restaurant.
As we sat together, warm and surrounded by people we love in that little place, talking about the things we are grateful for amidst such untraditional food, no preparation, no clean-up, my heart welled up with gratitude.
Gratitude for family. For my brother sitting there with us and that he chose a wife I love so much. For their little girl my kids could eat up, for the opportunity for Lucy to be a pseudo “big sister” for a few days. For all the people my siblings have married who I adore. That stretched into gratitude for the family I married into, and those they married, and for their friendships and love. So grateful for technology and internet that actually worked in Japan so that a picture pulled up on my phone of so many of those extended families supporting us at the Turkey Trot back home. Made me blink back tears in some elevator in the depths of Kyoto thinking how much I love them all. So grateful for my parents and Dave’s and for their deliberate parenting. So grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches us to honor those family relationships and treat them like the golden gifts that they are.
It was easy that day to be grateful for God’s creations because we were amidst some of his best masterpieces.
When we planned this trip we didn’t take into account that it would be at the very tippy-top height of Fall gorgeousness…which also meant that everyone in Japan and their dog would be scouting out the same breathtaking places in Kyoto, that there would be little vacancy in hotels and that we would be with wall-to-wall other tourists. But I wouldn’t change a thing because it was totally worth it to fight all the crowds a hundred times over.
Especially when we got to do it with these guys:
We went to Ginkaku-Ji Temple first (also known as the “Silver Pavillion”)
Every corner we turned was filled with such beauty.
Japan is so different from China in that everything is ultra-orderly.
They believe in “the line” like nobody’s business. Everything is pristinely clean. There were people keeping things beautifully swept and perfect everywhere we went.
…and I guess Fall in Kyoto brings out all the traditional kimonos becasue man alive these guys were everywhere you looked:
View from the top of the Silver Pavilion:
We walked down the “Philosopher’s Walk” to the next temple.
Lucy was in Heaven pushing her little cousin around.
We walked down narrow old-fashioned Japanese streets:
And bought little treasures like fried octopus balls:
…and the delicious “potatonator.”
We went to the Eikan-Do Temple next.
Love the rock gardens where you can sit and reflect on life in general.
The view from the top pagoda:
…an added number six:
After all that breathtaking gorgeous-ness, we walked around the Gion District to see if we could see any geishas and find some pre-dinner snack.
But everyone was so dang tired by then that we we decided to head for the piece de resistance:
Curry for dinner.
Japanese curry is probably their very favorite meal and this one in actual Japan did not disappoint.
We talked about gratitude in the midst of trying to feed a toddler and Lu’s book reading (she can’t stop on Harry Potter these days):
And stopped on the way back to our hotel for popsicles at a Japanese convenience store for our big Thanksgiving dessert.
Yes, it was certainly a day we won’t soon forget.
So grateful for this family of mine and this adventure we are on together.
More on why we chose Japan for this chapter of the adventure tomorrow.