Happy New Year, Displaced Dispatchers!

As I’m writing this, it’s still New Year’s Eve here in New York City. I’ll be joining some neighbors a little later for a feast of fresh lobster (flown in from Maine), foie gras, and champagne (mais oui). We’ll have a baguette from Maison Kayser, the famed Parisian bakery that recently opened near us, and a fruit pie from the Union Square green market. And my husband, who is Japanese, will be bringing a few traditional New Year’s foods that he got from the nearby Japanese grocery, Sunrise Mart (watching the sun rise, incidentally, is a Japanese New Year’s tradition).

As the menu indicates, the company, too, will be international. The couple hosting spends a good chunk of the year at their vacation house in France (she is a displaced European), and another of the guests is a displaced Taiwanese (he may bring Portuguese custard tarts).

Although I’ll be wearing something glam—I can’t wear heels these days except under special circumstances, eg, I’m going to a neighbor’s a few doors down—I imagine that at some point I'll wax nostalgic about how much I enjoyed spending New Year's in Japan, where it is a family-oriented holiday and tends to be casual and relaxed.

I came to love so many aspects of Oshōgatsu, as it is known, when living in Tokyo. Last year on the Displaced Nation I wrote about the tolling of the bells at Buddhist temples at midnight, audible throughout the land. And now I am remembering the plain meal of soba the night before, the special foods on New Year’s Day, the arrival of nengajō (New Year’s postcards), visits to the shrine/temple where women would be wearing kimonos with fur collars, kite-flying, koto music, Beethoven’s Ninth…

I think it was the mix of contemplation (the Buddhist elements) and joy (stemming from Shinto, the native Japanese religion)—that never failed to put me in a good mood at the start of the year.

On that note: wherever you are in the world, and however you’re celebrating, my hope is that you will give yourself equal time for self-reflection and for fun. After all, you can't have yin without yang. What’s more, I predict that some healthy mix of the two will put you in an optimistic—and creative—frame of mind for 2017!
ML Awanohara
Photo credits (clockwise from top left): Soba Noodle Just Before the New Year, by raitank via Flickr (CC BY 2.0); Happy New Year! by kimubert via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0); Kite flying competition, by Sam Sheffield via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0); and Have you ever wear (sic) Kimono? (New Year’s, Kamakura), by Masayuki Takaku via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Want to extend your horizons even more? What to do if you’re in…

London: Check out the London New Year's Day Parade, an American-style extravaganza of musicians (many of whom have flown in from the U.S.), dancers, acrobats, clowns and floats, beginning at the Ritz Hotel and ending at Big Ben. Those who’ve experienced this free event (it’s in its 35th year) insist it’s a “fabulous” way to kick off the year. What's more, it's being held TODAY—unlike its older counterpart in Pasedena, California. (The Rose Parade, or Tournament of Roses, will take place tomorrow, January 2, because of an obscure 1893 rule prohibiting it to be held on a Sunday.)
Singapore: Take a break from the party crowd by stepping inside the Singapore National Gallery for a special exhibition of nature paintings by contemporary Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong, which started in mid-December. The selection of works, which are arranged in a room that bears Wu's name, are intended to convey a sense of the rivers, mountains and towns around China the painter explored in the last fifty years of his life (he died in 2010, at age 90). It’s the first of a series of exhibitions the museum planned upon receiving a large number of Wu's works—the most valuable donation to a Singapore museum to date.
Tokyo: Learn all about the history of Finland’s famed textile and fashion house, Marimekko, by dropping by a special exhibition at Bunkamura, a multicultural complex in Shibuya (closes February 12). Comprising over 200 objects on loan from the Helsinki Design Museum, including a Marimekko dress worn by Jackie Kennedy (she owned six, and is credited with introducing the brand to America), it’s the first large-scale exhibition of the 65-year-old fashion factory ever to be held in Japan.

While we were all playing on social media:
**Need to jumpstart your writing career in 2017? Take a look at what these international creatives who are also coaches have to offer (the writer’s equivalent of cardio workouts):**
Gascony in May: Writing a novel? Tracey Warr, who contributes our Location, Locution column, is one of the lead tutors at the inaugural Writing Worlds Retreat, to take place in southwest France May 21–27. As the title suggests, the focus will be on writing with place—plotting and creating worlds for your readers to step into. In addition, participants can expect to receive plenty of practical assistance with their manuscripts, including publishing advice. Notably, the price includes tuition, full board and lodging at Lexis House, which is situated in rural Gascony and provides a “quiet haven where writers can rendez-vous with their inner muse.”
Paris in July: Veteran American travel writer Rolf Potts—he is the author of the Vagabonding, an “uncommon” (and now classic) guide to extended overseas travel—has organized, and will serve as one of four instructors for, July's Creative Nonfiction Workshop at the Paris American Academy (to take place in tandem with a Literary Fictions workshop). More information is available here; queries can be sent to info@pariswritingworkshop.com.
Guided writing courses: In or around the Washington, D.C., area in the near future? You may be able to take advantage of two courses being offered by Nina Sichel, editor, with Gene Bell-Villada, of the landmark work, Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads, and Third Culture Kids:
  1. “Moving among Cultures: A Guided Writing Journey,” January 18 to February 8, at the Northern Virginia Community College/Annandale.
  2. “Writing from the Heart: People and Places We Have Known,” February 23 to March 30, at the Vienna Community Center in Vienna, Virginia.
To find out more about Nina and why she’s the ideal person to teach these courses, go to her TCK Talent interview with Lisa Liang. (Nina, we hope you present these offerings online some day!)
Memoir & solo show assistance: Speaking of Lisa Liang, who has achieved considerable renown for her one-woman autobiographical show, Alien Citizen: an earth odyssey, about growing up as a Third Culture Kid: she, too, has a couple of upcoming offerings:
  1. A 5-session workshop on writing a solo show, memoir or personal essay, held via Skype, begins January 17.
  2. A 6-session solo show workshop, held in person at the Chromolume Dance Studio in Los Angeles, begins January 19.
Find out more information here or by emailing Lisa at eliang@wesleyan.com.

Home study: Author, serial expat, and Summertime Publishing founder Jo Parfitt has produced updated editions of her three writing programs:
  1. How to Write Your Life Stories: presents her tested formula for writing a memoir
  2. Definite Articles: outlines how to write and sell articles based on your overseas experience
  3. Release the Book Within: focuses on how to plan, write, edit and publish a non-fiction book
Available as a print book from Amazon or as a PDF, each volume consists of eight lessons that finish with a task to complete. For an additional fee, Jo can offer a personal critique of the full program or individual lessons, and keep you on track to finish within a year.
Updates from The Displaced Nation

CULTURE SHOCK TOOLBOX: Expat mums, time to loosen your worry nut: relax, write funny stories & try not to embarrass your kids!
Transitions enthusiast H.E. Rybol is back with her final post of 2016. Happy holidays, Displaced Nationers! Are you already thinking about trips you’d like to make in 2017? Maybe you’re thinking about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? In which case you’ll find it inspirational to meet Eva Melusine (Sine) Thieme, traveler, writer, and author of the hilarious memoir Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life, about climbing Africa’s highest mountain with her teenage son....

TCK TALENT: Tanya Crossman takes her talent with mentoring TCKs to the next level: a resource-rich book
Columnist Dounia Bertuccelli is back with her second Adult Third Culture Kid guest, who has had a particularly productive year. Hello readers! Welcome back for my second TCK Talent column, where I am happy to introduce author and TCK mentor Tanya Crossman. Tanya is ending 2016 on a high note as this was the year she had her first book published: Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century (Summertime Press), a work full of insights into the hearts and minds of Third Culture Kids and, for Tanya, a true labor of love....

Other recent posts:

WORLD OF WORDS: When words fail you: i.e., you have a throbbing toothache in a foreign country

Are we expats on an eightfold path? Poet Robert Peake investigates…

LOCATION, LOCUTION: Novelist Dinah Jefferies melds themes of displacement and loss with the seductive beauty of the East

Expat, repat, and otherwise displaced reactions to the 2016 US presidential race

BOOKLUST, WANDERLUST: From Hong Kong’s dreamy harbour to Dublin’s gritty streets—Displaced Reads for the end of autumn!

Matters of debate:

Expats who spend the holidays in their adopted lands have certain advantages over those who go home. They can use the festive season as a time for more extensive travel, as Brit expat in Abu Dhabi Louise Beazor has done (she and her hubby are now visiting Sri Lanka) and/or can come up with their own holiday traditions—for instance, another Abu Dhabi expat, Marri Janeka, and a friend decided to wear ugly Christmas sweaters to the office on Christmas.
Christmas naysayers in the West would be better off using the time to travel abroad. In the view of Canadian world traveler Paris Marx, travel is a good way to avoid the pressure to participate in a holiday that, for him at least, has become largely commercial and hence meaningless.
No one who takes the Easter Bunny seriously should mock the holiday of Kwanzaa. As the American journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates once put it in a post for The Atlantic (notably, he recently returned to New York from a year-long fellowship in Paris), if white Americans can invent holidays and traditions, blacks should be able to do so as well. Kwanzaa ends today, incidentally.

Surprising discoveries:

The custom known as Weihnachtsgurke—hanging an ornament shaped like a pickle on the Christmas tree—though long believed to have been carried over by immigrants from Germany, may in fact have originated in the American Midwest. As Minnesota-born, Berlin-based journalist Melissa Eddy reports, the tradition of the pickle-shaped ornament—the first child to find it camouflaged in the pine needles is assured of good luck and a special giftis all but unknown in Germany. (That said, a couple of German ornament makers, having discovered this peculiar American custom, are now making pickle ornaments—will it eventually catch on in the old country?)
Mistletoe is far from rare in France. British expat Rosemary Border Rabson, who lives in The Morvan (a mountainous region in Burgundy, France), has spotted a great clump of it feeding off one of her apple trees.
French colonial rule of Vietnam ended some time ago, but their influence lives on in the form of the annual Yule log cake. According to former Fulbrighter and Quartz reporter Thu-Huong Ha, in Vietnam the cake goes by bánh khúc cây giáng sinh (Christmas stick cake), bánh bông lan cun (rolled sponge cake), or simply bûche de Noël—the only difference being that Vietnamese bakers have added flavors like matcha, mango, and coconut and cranked up the kitsch and cuteness.
We hope you have a glorious fortnight of international creativity. Please send any news, comments, glossy pickle ornaments (preferably the German one crafted by Dieter Dressler), or matcha-flavored bûche de Noël (preferably with a kitsch touch) to ml@thedisplacednation.com. You can follow us on Facebook here and/or Twitter here for more frequent updates.

And please don't forget: We'd love it if you shared this dispatch with a friend. They can sign up here.
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