There was a definite paradox about the way this month functioned, Mizuki had noted. While his class was still hard at work, preparing for the January exam season, and the thesis they were all working on, the grave seriousness had lifted slightly, and people seemed happier.
It was odd to him that such a change should come about because of one day of the month. In between classes, one could hear whistling and singing of famous Christmas songs and carols, like that teacher who never gave it a rest – it was jingle bells all day lately, driving him absolutely nuts.
On a brighter note – the university cafeteria was brimming with goodies lately; gingerbread men, pudding, hot chocolate and even something called saffron buns was free for the students to eat as much as they wanted. He could certainly get used to that, even if he had to endure the endless buzz all around about what everyone were doing for the holidays, and what they were getting their friends, boyfriends, parents and godparents or whatever. Even a group of the foreign students were planning on having a party on Christmas Eve, to celebrate together, even though they didn’t even celebrate Christmas at all, much like him.
He’d been invited of course, but resigned with indignation, even though he didn’t mind the people or anything – it was just on pure principle.
“’Sup, Grinch?” Noel, from his history class came over to his table, his plate stacked with sweets and a side of fries – about the only thing this guy ate.
“You honestly don’t know anything do you?” the other student laughed, slipping down on the seat opposite him. “You’re honestly not faking this whole ignorance towards Christmas thing?”
“Nope,” Mizuki replied without looking up from his text book.
“You don’t even feel a little bit jolly?”
Mizuki offered him half a glance, below a brow furrowed in intense disapproval. “What is that word anyway, jolly?”
Noel shrugged. “You should lighten up. Did you have some sort of traumatic Christmas experience as a kid or something?”
“Are you joking right now?” Mizuki finally looked up, facing his classmate.
“No I mean, maybe…I don’t know, lots of people struggle during Christmas you know..”
“I don’t struggle,” Mizuki replied, stumbling slightly over the words. “We simply don’t celebrate Christmas where I come from.”
“You’re from Japan, not the moon.”
“Are you trying to be ignorant?” Mizuki could feel his eyebrow twitching.
“I’m just yanking your chain, calm down. I’m just saying that even if you don’t celebrate it, that doesn’t mean you should hate it.”
“I’m sure I don’t hate Christmas,” Mizuki replied with an annoyed shrug, closing his book. “I just hate the hysteria, and the consumerism. It’s useless.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe people just enjoy giving each other presents?”
“Yeah,” Mizuki stood up, “Like giving flowers to random strangers.”
“Nothing,” he snatched a saffron bun from his friend’s plate. “I’m going to class. See you.”
Noel waved him off, still looking slightly confused.
He wasn’t sure why he had mentioned the plant, or rather, insinuating to Noel that it even existed. It was just that every day on his way to and from the university, he passed the spot where he had run into the man in the costume, and he never seemed to be around. Mizuki found this to be strange, considering that most of the other Christmas tree vendors, toy makers and the salvation army santas or whoever all of these opportunist sales stands belonged to, were found in the same place day after day, however, he hadn’t seen this man again after that day.
Come to think of it, he hadn’t seen him before that day either, not as far as he could remember.
It had already been a few days since then, and the plant appeared to be thriving in his small room.
He had to admit he liked it. He allowed it to sit on the table, livening up the place with its vivid red.
Mizuki made sure to water it every day, and even talked to it. It was weird. His mom had always talked to her plants at home, so it was only natural to him – to jabber softly in Japanese, as if the plant was some kind of pet. Meanwhile, he was slightly concerned that all the studying was going to his head – he was after all, talking to a plant. Maybe he should hang out more with his classmates after all – it probably wasn’t a good sign that he was being about as social as any isolated old lady.
But the way things were right now – he couldn’t stand the thought hanging out with them lest he’d be dragged along to Christmas parties, Christmas shopping and secret santa activities. The thought was revolting.
He sighed, pushing open the classroom door, glad to immerse himself in European history once more.