We are welcoming the second Christmas here in Brussels. I hope this letter finds you in good health.
The Christmas in Belgium is not as energetic and active as it is in the US or in Japan. At the same time, it is not as commercialistic as it is in these countries. I guess we like this simple and old-fashioned Christmas of European style. The other difference is the fact that people celebrate Saint Nicolas on December 6, rather than Santa Clause. The only concern we have is the black servant who always comes with the Saint Nicolas. We hope it does not mean any kinds of discrimination.
We have been finding interesting differences between Europe and the US. Among them, how to balance between rationalism and humanism seems to be the biggest difference. It still may take some time before we can find the best answer.
On miscellanies side, the writing order is also different. For example, "12/10/99" means “December 10th” in the US, and "October 12th" in Europe. Therefore, I always need to guess the date by identifying the author. Also, the street number comes in different position. It is "1600 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu" in the US, and "Avenue de Beaulieu 10, Brussels" in Belgium. However, in Hungary, the order seems to be the same as it is in Japan (i.e, State- City- Street and Last name- First name, ...) It is indeed difficult to generalize Europe.
For the Europe, 1999 was a year of changes (i.e., new European Commissioners, new Member of European Parliament, and new agreement of EU enlargement). Under the new President, EU has been and will be launching many initiatives toward the new century. It is very interesting time for the EU.
Finally, my family members are also doing fine. Anna is in the third grade in JSB (Japanese School of Brussels) and started to create her own world in mind (which is good for her, but sometimes difficult for parents). Takako has been taking French language class, and started French cooking class as well. I am trying to catch them up.
We wish you a Mary Christmas and a Happy New Year 2000!
Tetsuo, Takako & Anna Karaki