I love being in Japan, and I love being with the dear friends I've made during my time here. That said, I feel the familiar ache of homesickness set in as the holidays come and go. A week or so after I said goodbye to my Linfield travel compatriots, I returned to Narita airport with my family to see them off to Seattle. I realize I'll see them all very soon, but nevertheless, I still felt like leftovers— just about everyone from Back Home leaves, and I am once again on my own in a country whose language I'm only moderately competent at speaking. But I'm not really on my own; I've made quite a few close friends here, and any time I spend with them never fails to lift my spirits and dispel any lingering loneliness. Advice #1: push yourself to actively interact with people, even when--especially when--you're feeling homesick or lonely. -- Christmas really sneaked up on me this year: living in Japan and celebrating the holidays differently than how I'm used to doing so back home— different conventions of observing holidays (food, events, activities, etc.) or not observing certain holidays at all (i.e. Thanksgiving). Nevertheless, I was in good company during the holidays and enjoyed the various celebrations. Kana, one of the buddies, invited me to spend Christmas eve with her and her friends. We met at one friend's apartment for food, cooking, presents, and card games. Aside from Kana and our hostess, I didn't know any of the lovely people I met that night. I was nervous at first, but thankfully that didn't last long. Our Christmas feast consisted of homemade curry, Kentucky-fried chicken, 3 take-and-bake pizzas, a bag of dinner rolls, Costco muffins, various candies, ice cream cake, homemade tiramisu, coca-cola, fruit juice, and some sake. Several meals, manga volumes, and bouts of laughter later, we played several rounds of cards to determine the distribution of presents. Despite the cultural differences and my prior homesickness, I had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by friends.