December OWLS tour – Holidays and Natsumes

Here we are, last OWLS post of 2019. We made it guys! Time to celebrate!

This month’s prompt is brought to us by the everlovely Litawho is just a constant source of good cheer. If you have not had the pleasure of getting to know her, you are in for a treat!

young natsume in the cold

oh no! I couldn’t find the artist!

For December the topic is Holiday:

  • 12th Monthly Deadline: December 1, 2019
  • 12th Monthly Topic: “Holiday”
  • Lita’s Request

We are at the end of the year! YAY! For this month’s topic, we will be discussing what the holidays mean to us. Some of us have a religious perspective on Christmas, while some of us see Christmas as a celebration of family. For this prompt, we will be exploring how the holidays are celebrated around the world using various pop culture media. We will also describe what the holidays mean to us. Happy Holidays! – OWLS Team
Examples – I would like for you to draw on your own experiences when it comes to the holidays.

This was a bit of a tricky subject for me. Most holidays are at least historically associated with religious rituals. As some of you may know, I have zero religious upbringing and although I am not an atheist, I am really not very educated in any specific religion. As such I don’t have a spiritual bond with any of the big holidays.

Natsume.Yuujinchou. new year

this looks festive – Pixiv Id 2936121

I still enjoy them a lot. I’m a person who likes celebrating by nature! So when I first thought about this topic that’s where my mind went. A holiday is a celebration of something. I can write about that! No problemo. But the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t sit right with me. I don’t really associate holidays and celebrations. The two can coincide but they’re not the same thing.

I celebrate everything, all the time. I celebrate Wednesdays, good weeks at the gym, making my hair do what I want it to do for an entire 5 minutes. A lifetime of very modest expectations has led me to have continuous cause for celebration. On the other hand, holidays are special. For me the word evokes a sense of calm and chance to make peace with myself. It’s almost meditative and healing. As you can imagine this brings me back to Natsume.

When I think holiday, I don’t recall any of the specific stories in there or any of the characters even. I think of the Natsume’s Book of Friends manga. As far as I know there are currently 23 volumes officially translated and they are all sitting on my shelf right here.

20191207_115247

I regularly check to find out if a new one is out. So far I’ve only read them once but I know I will revisit them eventually. Because to me, those books are a holiday.

The experience of reading the Natsume manga has always been a soothing one. I can only speak for myself of course, but it brought out the exact atmosphere and feelings that I want out of a holiday. I distinctly remember reading the volumes while on my commute or after gruelling work days.

Because I work in an environment that could be considered “high stress”, even if I may not personally feel that way, I do regularly get exposed to the stress of others. It’s contagious. If I’m not careful I end up feeling restless and on edge for no reason. So I’ve come up with ways to make sure it doesn’t happen. Anime and exercise help, so does a healthy sleep schedule. But when it all comes to a boil, nothing beats a holiday.

And for a while, Natsume was that holiday for me. I would take a few moments to read a chapter or two. Time alone to explore this world I loved so and let it wash over me. I would let Natsume and his friends remind me what actually mattered to me and take away my grumpiness and worries. Just a few minutes and I would be left refreshed and ready to take on everything that came my way.

Natsume christmas

I *think* this may be official art work

You may think I’m exaggerating for the sake of this post. That a simple manga doesn’t have that type of power. But I assure you it’s true. And it’s not only Natsume at that. I have always been lucky in that I can get lost in fiction and come back out the other side as if I had actually experienced something…*real*… I mean reading is real. It’s more like I carry my imaginary adventures with me, try to learn from them and figure myself out through them. I think up to a certain point that’s what fiction is for.

Of course, not all fiction is going to be a holiday. Sometimes it’s a battlefield, a tragedy a hilarious interlude. For me, Natsume really is a holiday, and it’s only through considering it that way that I finally figured out the answer to this month’s topic.

What does a holiday mean to me. It’s in the name in a way. A holy day. A time that I set aside to reconnect with the world and with myself spiritually if you will. Man this sounds so new agey. I don’t think I’m the type of person that can pull of holistic speeches. In fact, it’s a lot simpler and more down to earth than it seems. In the most basic terms, a holiday is a time to remind myself of what makes me happy and what I love. That’s all. It’s a tiny thing which I could do anytime. But I don’t. Because work, responsibility, other people.. feeeeeeeelings. Before I know it, I sort of get a little fuzzy on who I actually am. That’s when I need a holiday.

Christmas is a holiday. It’s when I get to spend way too long agonizing over what to get people because I love them and I want them to be happy. It’s when I get to push everything else aside and concentrate on making boxes look pretty. Silly ritual. I have never bought a present because I felt obligated, it wouldn’t be a holiday if I did that. So the silly ritual had always been meaningful and joyful to me.

Just like reading my favourite manga is.

I hope dearly it’s the same for you as well.

I sort of inserted myself late in the tour so I missed the official sign up date. Still you should read Aria’s post on the Animanga Spellbook and up next or, well, pretend I’m not here, there’s the never disappointing Takuto. Talk about some earliy Christams presents!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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6 Responses

  1. foovay says:

    I really like your take here. I had not thought of it as a holiday, but I certainly have “comfort” books and anime that I will turn to when I’m having a difficult day. A little vacation to be somewhere/when I enjoy that life is just so (even if sometimes it is still hard – you know they overcome in the end). Refreshed, I can climb back into whatever fresh hell life has handed over to me.

    BTW, I’ve read several articles this month about how Christmas came to Japan as a purely secular holiday. Only 1% of the population is Christian so the whole “Christ is born” (which, take it from a Pagan, was all a lie anyway) is not an issue. It really is about buying gifts and spending time with people you love – with a big bucket of KFC chicken! It is promoted a bit more as a couples holiday than families. Now on that basis I can kind of get into Xmas, since hubby and I spend it together. Okay, we’re attached at the hip, but we make a point to DO things TOGETHER. The point is do what you really enjoy and just roll with it.

  2. Dawnstorm says:

    I’ve always lumped holidays and celebrations together as something I’m not really into. I like vacations; taking a break – but that’s pretty much it. I’m content to enjoy life when it’s enjoyable, and I don’t when its not (though I’m less content with that).

    I do enjoy watching anime, and I’d certainly appreciate another season of Natsume. I do get what it’s like to be refreshed by it. The show is gentle, but not lenient. That’s how it charms even cautious people like myself.

  1. December 19, 2019

    […] blog tour. The incredible Irina (Drunken Anime Blog) took to the keyboard once more to write about her beloved Natsume that you can read right here! Now, look out for THE Lyn (Just Something About LynLyn) of OWLS herself with a post this Sunday, […]

  2. January 2, 2020

    […] December OWLS tour – Holidays and Natsumes by Irina (I drink and watch […]

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