Seasons Greetings 2006


Christmas Greetings!

Craig Says:

Craig, Kana and Grace Yuki

Kana, Craig & Yuki

Well 2006 has been a great year for the Mercer family. Grace Yuki has been growing just wonderfully. Surrounded by us as well as Grandpa & Grandma Ogino and her Auntie Chie. She just loves hanging out and being a ham. She is not talking yet but making all kinds of noises and likes trying to sing. She is crawling and boy can she move fast! Yuki also has a whole bag of cute tricks…the wave goodbye, the dual eye blink and my favourite is the dance to the National Geographic Channel theme song.

I have enjoyed working at Aim English Studio this year. The kids for the most part have been great. I teach 4 year olds up to 15 year olds which offers a great variety in ability and behaviours. My co-workers have been the most enjoyable part however which enabled us to run two very big and fun events.

AIM Halloween Party Staff and Volunteers

AIM Halloween Party Staff and Volunteers

The first was the Aim Halloween Party which we had over 240 people attend. 129 students and the rest made up of friends and family. The cool thing about the party was that the foreign staff was in charge. Typically in Japan, at English conversation schools (Eikaiwa), the Japanese staff plan the events and the foreigners just help out. This usually results in a "Japanese" version of a western event. In our case the foreign staff was able to plan the whole event from start to finish and the Japanese staff helped out. Of course this meant we were able to put on a totally authentic western Halloween Party complete with Pinata, Pumpkin Carving, games, candy, and Tim's Trick or Treat of Horror. We had the usual array of fall fair games, bobbing for apples, shooting range (using those little guns that shoot plastic sticky arrows), bean bag toss, musical chairs, ring toss and everyone's favourite…the fish pond! It was awesome and not only did the children experience something very few people in Japan can experience without going to another country but the parents and staff learned something too. YAY!

The second event we put on was the Aim Christmas Charity Event. We had 190 students with friends and family attend this one and again it was a great success. Like the Halloween Party, the foreign staff planned an authentic western version. Our focus was Christmas and the true meaning of "giving is better than receiving". We were able to raise over $900.00 for "Save the Children" charity. We played games in the local youth hostel gym, and had a silent auction to help raise money for charity. We also had a Christmas Tree decoration demo, a Christmas Sugar Cookie demo (using my Mom's recipe), and even Santa was available for pictures with the kids. Again it was great fun to plan and execute an event exactly the way we would back home. The only difference was that for all the guests everything was brand new.

Daniel and Miyuki

Daniel & Miyuki de Vignat

Other highlights this year included Ai and Junya's wedding in July and my best friend in Japan, Daniel's wedding to his sweetheart Miyuki. Daniel is from Ireland and when his Mom, Uncle and brother Mark came for the wedding we got on famously. Daniel's mom Pat even adopted us. YAY!

Another highlight was meeting a fellow foreigner from Victoria at the Shimomatsu train station. His name is James, grew up in the Cook Street Village area and married a girl from Kishiwada just like me. He and his wife Hiromi live just a five minute walk from our house! We've been too busy to get together a lot but when we do we can't leave.

So yeah, 2006 has been good, but also had it's sad moments as my Gandma Mercer (my Dad's Mom) passed away. Uncle George also had open heart surgery this year and is recovering well. All in all the year was super, super busy which has resulted in us being unable to keep in touch with everyone back in Canada as much as we would like. We have been getting all of your Christmas cards and putting them in our tree which has really helped us to get into the Christmas spirit.

As some of you may have heard, Kana, Gracie and I are planning on returning to Victoria this coming spring (April 2007). We want to get back and get setup before it's time for Grace to start school. We look forward to seeing you all sooner rather than later.

God has been very good to us this year and we want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Kana and Grace Yuki

Kana and Gracie

Kana says:
In the first place, a huge apology for us not keeping in touch with you that much. I don't want to use an excuse of "having a little one keeps us really busy" all the time but actually it is true. However, let me apologize.

Well, 2006 to me has been all about Gracie. I can't believe she is 1 year old (Dec.22nd) and how fast this year has gone. Seeing Grace's perfect growth is nothing but joy. Since she started to crawl and move around by herself we could see her change in growing every day. One day she began giggling and the next day pointing her finger towards what she wants. It is so amazing and every single joy she has brought to our family is nothing to compare with what I had experienced before Grace. Of course, she sometimes makes us crazy with her crying for no reason or trying to destroy whatever is in her way, just one little smile on her face wipes those things out completely. Now her front teeth are finally coming in and soon she will be able to walk, run and talk.

Craig, Kana, Junya, Shima, Rie, Ai, Tomo and Koichi

KaToRiShiA at Junya & Ai’s wedding

We had two big weddings with our friends. First one was Ai & Junya's. Ai was a maid of honour at our wedding and she and Junya got married on July 16th. I did a toast to the bride and we sang a song for them. It was a wonderful day we could share with everyone. Now they are expecting their first child.
The other one was Daniel and Miyuki's. They did a ceremony in a farm in Kobe and we took Grace with us. She was very well behaved during the ceremony, actually she was sleeping but much better than interrupting with her big screaming and crying.

Other highlights for us include all our cousin's babies being born, Andrea had Isaiah, Yvette had Ryder and Jeanne had Levi. We can't wait to see all the little ones in the Puritch family running around together with Gracie.

So there have been so may good things in our life and our friends' lives in 2006. I am very much looking forward to experiencing a lot of things with Craig & Grace as a family in 2007. Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.