#NaBloPoMo Post 6: Traditions

Today’s BlogHer prompt for National Blog Posting Month is:

Monday, June 10, 2013
Tell us about a tradition passed through your family.

I’m not sure why, but my mind is somewhat blank on this one. Of course, we had lots of traditions in our family, but I’m not sure how many of them were cultural.

Here are a few I remember:

  1. At Christmas time, my mom put a dab of glitter on our noses before we went to bed. This was so we would hear Santa’s sleigh bells when he landed on the roof. For some reason, it never worked.
  2. Also at Christmas, we were each allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. Of course, my mom always got to choose the present we could open, and that was because it was always new pajamas. So, we always had pretty pajamas for the pictures on Christmas morning.
  3. My dad was an Air Force pilot and he was often gone from home for weeks, even months at a time. But every time he came home, he hid presents for us in his flight suit. His flight suit had zipper pockets everywhere, and he filled each pocket with a different surprise.

What I keep thinking about as I try to think of a cultural tradition, is what my mom always taught us about “losing face.” To attempt to get some focus for this blog, I “googled” losing face and found the following link:


Imagine my surprise, after growing up with always being aware of the possibility of “losing face,” to find out this is not so much a Japanese concept as it is a Chinese concept. At least, the origin is Chinese.

My very first "hanko"



Regardless of the origin, the concept of losing face is as much a part of me as my name.




In the opening scene of The Red Kimono, the Kimura family decides to start a new tradition for Christmas. Though the family is Buddhist, Papa has finally convinced Mama it will be okay for the family to celebrate as most Americans do.


December 7, 1941–Berkeley, CA

Like a broken record, Papa’s words played over and over in Sachi’s mind.

Remember gaman, Sachi-chan. You must learn to be patient.

But Christmas was still eighteen days away. Be patient? It was like asking a bird not to fly.

She tiptoed into her parents’ room and opened the closet door, hoping the squeaking hinges wouldn’t tattle on her. Pushing her mother’s dresses apart, she searched for presents that might be hidden in the darkness. Anticipation tingled in her hands. Finally, Papa had convinced Mama it would be okay to celebrate Christmas. Sachi giggled to herself, imagining how he must have convinced her.

“Sumiko, I doubt Buddha would have a concern with our family celebrating Christmas the way most Americans do.”

Pearl Harbor . . . surprise attack . . . sinking ships . . .

Sachi jolted at the words that drifted from radio in the living room and grabbed at Mama’s dresses to regain her balance. Several fell from their hangers.

What traditions have been passed down in your family? 

This entry was posted in Excerpt, Family History, Japanese Culture, The Red Kimono and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to #NaBloPoMo Post 6: Traditions

  1. I love that … “I doubt Buddha would have a concern … ” My mom instilled that “saving face” thing in us, too, and you bet I try to get my kids to think that way! Try to make them behave nice and show others they can do a good job – so I look like a good parent. 🙂

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