It was more than 20 years ago, and my littlest sister had come to visit me in Tokyo. She was still a teenager, and had a beautiful little son of her own. Back in Australia, my other sister was babysitting, so that little sister could have a whole month’s holiday, as young ladies should.
For some reason, I must have said ‘Its a workday in Japan, we’ll celebrate New Year, not Christmas’, and given up.
But at dusk, Christmas Eve, we decided ‘Lets make it happen’.
We chose a vintage bridal veil from my ‘dress-ups’ box to stand in for the Christmas tree, pinning it to the landlord’s wallpaper with dressmaking pins. It got decorated with bows of pink satin ribbon and pinned-on fairy lights. We sang beautiufl carols to each other, from our shared childhood. I'd never done such a thing before. That all went well. Encouraged and feeling Chrismassy, we now wanted to make it a party. I went though my stash of business cards, and found one from an Australian who lived nearby, who I’d met at a United Nations event. I surprised him with an improptueu invite, and he surprised us by accepting. We roasted vegetables and chicken in the frypan, and I improvised gravy from creamy stew roux from the SevenEleven next door. And suddenly, we were having one of the best Christmases of my life.
We can't do it all the time, but we can do it more than we think. On bleak days, like children playing pretend, we can generate something from nothing, just by declaring it is so. The props might be flat, just drawn on the wall to start with, and that will work too. Inviting good people who will play along is an essential ingredient. Playfulness can be its own reward.