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Friday, December 10, 2010


I am trying to hold up Japanese traditional celebrations for my son.
I'm flying a bit solo and blind, having only a vague recollection of the milestones to be observed, and a very diluted knowledge of holidays and festivals. I realize I have to do a bit of homework in advance here, lest some important days slip by unnoticed. The correct observance of the hundredth day, I just found out, is about food. It's the third ritual in infancy (the others: 7th night naming and first trip to the temple for a blessing.) Food to mark a long life of happy eating is prepared and presented to the baby--who likely has just begun teething, so it's really just a performance of mock feeding. Images here for what might be a traditional feast.

I only knew that the 100th day was one of significance. My mother during her stay had criticized us for taking Z out during her visit, explaining that in olden times babies were kept indoors for 100 days for safekeeping. I interpreted it to be a birthday of sorts after the most vulnerable time had passed: with triple digit days under his/her belt, the child was more of a person? The current trend in our demographic today is to refer to the first few months as "the fourth trimester" -- an out-of-womb larval state before they truly come into their own.

While back East, I thought I wanted to throw a party for Zenas. But my original ambition did not manifest with our next travel adventure looms too closely ahead, and our time between grandparents feels more like a pitstop in our house to recover from our colds, see a few friends, and brace ourselves against the next set of holidays. Instead I took the easy way out--we had been invited over for dinner that night by Bill and Camille, so I brought along a cake and asked them to join the commemoration. I had read about a small bakery in a Japantown grocery store that made yummy cakes. A business that looks as old as 40+ years is being run by an elderly bilingual japanese woman who 1) whispered "no, she's nisei (second-generation)" in response to my inquiry if the pastry chef could write a japanese message on the cake, and 2) tsked at me for not being able to remember one letter from the japanese phonetic alphabet when we agreed hiragana would be possible.

In the end, the cake was a little bruised in transport, but Zenas was surrounded by love and congratulated by a toast.

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