In October when I was six, my family bought a house in the suburb of my hometown in the north region of Japan. It was the first big move I experienced in my life, and throughout the process, I learned that even after choosing the new house, there were many things to be done prior to moving.
At our old tiny half-dilapidated apartment, broken parts had to be repaired as much as possible and walls needed to be painted. For many weeks, my friends’ mothers in the community came by to help us with all the repair and painting work during the daytime. They also offered meals to my family when things got really hectic. Such was the relationship we had in our community of tiny half-dilapidated apartments – we always helped each other unconditionally whenever one of us needed a hand.
When the repair and painting were almost done, my mother organized a shopping trip to a local department store specifically to buy small gifts for all the people who had helped us with the moving, and I accompanied her. My mother told me beforehand that it was going to be a long shopping, so I brought some books and toys with me to keep myself entertained.
Once at the department store, my mother visited many different sections, looking at different gift options, and each time we arrived at a new section, she looked for a chair for me where I could sit and wait for her. Thankfully, there were an abundance of chairs at the department store designed for people to take a break during their shopping. I would sit and read my book or play with my toys until my mother came to pick me up to move to the next section.
My mother was always a slow and deliberate shopper, but that day, her shopping lasted for hours. It was almost the store’s closing time when she finally finished.
“It’s all done!” My mother came to me with shopping bags in her hands. “We’ll go home now, but before that, I’ll buy you something special because you’ve been so patient for all this while!”
It was a Halloween season, and there were many Halloween-related items sold at the store. My mother took me to the sweets section in the basement. In Japan, those huge decorative pumpkins are not common, and people usually buy fake ones – orange pumpkins with faces made with hard plastic. They usually have lids at the top and inside one can keep sweets of their choice. My mother said she would buy me one of those Halloween pumpkins.
“Which one would you like?”
As I eagerly looked around, a rather large Halloween pumpkin caught my eye. It was a much bigger version of what I had at home, which was my father’s gift from the year before.
“I want this one,” I said to my mother without hesitation.
Usually, my mother didn’t allow me to have such a large item, saying that it would take up too much space, but that evening, she gladly accepted my request.
“One of these, please,” said my mother to the clerk, then she asked her if the pumpkin came with sweets inside. But it didn’t.
“Well, you cannot have an empty pumpkin, can you? It has to have something inside!”
My mother found a package of apple chocolates nearby and added it to the purchase. Once the payment was done, she opened the lid of the fake pumpkin and put the chocolates inside.
“There you go. Here is your Halloween pumpkin!”
That was a very special gift that I got from my mother, somebody who bought me a present only on my birthday and Christmas. It was totally unexpected, and maybe because of that, the gift felt even more precious to me.
When I got back home, I took out the small pumpkin from the previous year and placed it next to the brand new large one. As I looked at both of them, a big smile of satisfaction broke across my face. To this day, the large pumpkin is still at my parents’ house, and whenever I look at it, I remember that special evening I had with my mother.