October 16, 2018 by

‘Tis the season for snowbirds to fly south. It’s hard for me to imagine being a snowbird, though. I genuinely enjoy Nebraska’s winter months: the blowing snow, beautiful scenery, and families gathered for holidays.

These days, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas is arriving earlier every year. Santa’s face appears in promotions around town as soon as we clean off Thanksgiving dinner plates. Nevertheless, my heart warms with anticipation for candy canes and silver lanes aglow.

But not everyone in the Lemke family is—in the words of Bing Crosby—“dreaming of a white Christmas.” One of my granddaughters will be traveling to Japan, taking advantage of her school’s winter break. Japan is still in the northern hemisphere, and it can get quite cold in the winter. This granddaughter, Sarah Lemke, must take after me—not being a snowbird and all. (She is a contributing photographer with Omaha Magazine.)

Japan is a truly remarkable country, and I feel so blessed to have traveled to Japan on multiple occasions over the years.

Although Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, the holiday is celebrated by many throughout the country. Devout Christians may shudder at the thought, but it’s true that Christmas has become a commercial holiday (enjoyed even by those who do not observe the date’s religious significance) all over the world.

In Japan, there are many unique Christmas variations that American travelers—including my granddaughter—may discover to be delicious. Local restaurants have capitalized on the occasion to create Christmas ramen (designed to look like a Christmas tree), sashimi Christmas cakes (with raw fish), and seasonal bento boxes (lunch boxes produced with artistic flair).

It came as a surprise to me, but Kentucky Fried Chicken is a beloved Christmas dinner in Japan, thanks to the long-running marketing campaign “Kentucky for Christmas” (which the American fast-food franchise launched in 1974).

Call me old-fashioned, but when I gather with family and friends for Christmas, I think I’ll stick with a more traditional family dinner spread.

Merry Christmas! 

Gwen Lemke

Contributing Editor


This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of 60Plus in Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.