I've been thinking a lot about growing old lately. To many of you, that might not be all that surprising or deep. However, to most people I think that we really don't think about growing OLD. OldER, maybe, but never OLD. I remember waiting and wanting to turn 16, then 18, then 21, then 30....but "old"? When, dare I say, did I grow OLD? Or have I not, yet? ;-)
I'm writing this because today, August 12, 2011, is the 20th birthday of my lovely daughter, Anna Burbage Toyama. Twenty years ago today she joined us on this earth, and I'm awfully glad she did! Happy Birthday, honey!!!
In Japan turning 20 is a big deal. It's like turning 21 in the USA. (Twenty-year olds can drink and they can vote.) And because Japanese people love to celebrate everything as a group, there is a national holiday called "Adult Day" so the entire country can honor all the young people turning into Legal Adults within that fiscal year. I am not making this up! Basically, your city or town underwrites you having a class reunion! Anna decided last year that she wanted to participate, so we are going back to Japan in December and spending Christmas, New Years, and Adult Day in Japan. Women usually dress up in kimonos (which can cost thousands of dollars) and men usually wear suits. We'll get a commemorative photo of her class, so I'll post something about it when we get back.
In the meantime, here's a photo of the last time she got all "dolled" up: For the 7-5-3 (shichi-go-san)
Festival. Young children at these ages are supposed to get all dressed up to be taken to your local Shrine.
The Gods (Ancestors) are supposed to be formally introduced to you and they're asked to help protect you against demons or sickness or something. So this photo must be from 1994, because I'm sure we only did it the first time (traditionalists do it twice: one year is for both boys and girls and the other two are for the one or the other. Obviously, I cared so much about this custom to remember the details, haha). Click to enlarge.
Flash forward 17 years or so. Here are we dressed up again, this time in a different type of altar, haha. This was taken at a Blue Jackets game last fall. See how I haven't aged at all!? :-)
To celebrate Anna's birthday we will go out to dinner and a movie tonight. She'll then probably go out again with friends. And we'll have another huge party on and around January 3, 2012...and again next August when she turns 21.