New Year cards

In Japan, it is a custom to send out “Nengajyo” or “New Year’s greeting cards”. These are little cards you can buy (usually from the post office) for around 50 yen each, and then brightly festoon with a variety of your own designs, personalized greetings and set phrases heralding the coming of the new year. They are supposed to be timed such that they arrive on New Year’s day itself, and are often intended for friends, relatives, significant others (I guess) and so on.
One of these is for my cute (but insecure) kitty friend…!
Many Japanese have grown to dislike the burden of nengajyo, mainly because as time goes on, the number of cards you have to send out increases. The fear of receiving a greeting from a person to whom you had not sent a card begins to compel one to send them to a lengthy list of people each year. Many Japanese deal with this by either buying “preprinted” nengajyo, special custom stamps to speed the process, or else limiting their message to brief preset phrases.
Here at the House of Panda, we tend to take a much more relaxed approach to things like ‘birthdays’ (unless it’s mine), ‘anniversaries’, ‘christmas’ and ‘new years’. Deadlines are treated not so much as immutable goals to be met, but rather vauge guidelines to aspire to, while taking plenty of time for lunch and napping along the way. Understanding the panda philosophy goes a long way towards explaining why my parents are still waiting for their christmas gifts, or why I miss the train (and occasionally airplane) so very, very often.
Having thus established that my nengajyo will not arrive anywhere remotely close to January 1st , it is important to realize that there is a benefit to this casual pace of life.
Exercising my gaijin privilege to ignore the vast number of individuals to whom a normal Japanese person might feel some manner of social obligation and whittle my careful selection down to a group of six (primarily chosen by the time honored tradition of whose address I could randomly happen to remember first) has enabled me to put a little extra TLC into each card.
My idiotic doodling on the chalkboard aside (you try illustrating the transitive form of the verb “to wake” in chalk without looking foolish/drawing something that inadvertently resembles a penis) (keep your comments to yourself, people…), it’s been a long time since panda broke out the ol’ art supplies. So armed with a set of pens, some blank cards, and lots and lots of free time on his hands, Panda will attempt to produce some wonderfully artistic custom nengajyo that will awe and dazzle the recipients into giving him all sorts of gifts (preferably food). (not that that’s part of the custom, more of just a faint hope on my part).
I don’t know how well it’s going to work out – so far, I’ve already discovered that:
a) it’s the year of the monkey and i’m supposed to have some sort of monkey theme
b) pandas are not monkeys (screw it, they’re getting pandas anyway, I can’t draw monkeys)
c) I’ve drawn on the wrong side of two of the cards and now I have no space for the address.
d) it’s so cold in my room my hands are shivering and I can’t draw straight.
Oh well. We’ll see how it goes.
Now listening to: “Iron and Wine – Such Great Heights”
10:18 am

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