I went to go buy a birthday present for my mother in law. Every year, so far it has been flowers.
Then, last year the unthinkable happened...
They have some sort of flower-shop association in Japan where they will send flowers from the nearest flower shop of the receiver. You don't get to choose which flower shop will be doing the actual sending, but it is still a fairly reasonable deal.
HOWEVER, last year the flower shop that delivered the bouquet turned out to be the funeral home that we used when my father-in-law past away. (He was a sweet old man.) The funeral home has their own flower shop, and although they don't specifically -specialize-only in funeral flowers, that is still the majority of their business...I OBVIOUSLY had no idea that they would be sending the flowers.
My m-i-l is a former flower arranging teacher. When it comes to traditional flower arranging in Japan, it is an expensive art to learn and to teach. The teachers are very strict and have a lot of pride in their art....and if she is a m-i-l, well then, double the pride.
So, my m-i-l asked the delivery girl what flower shop she had come from...and the answer (understandably) made her "raise her eyebrows". (I wasn't there but I can see it all happening.)
We had a chat that night over the phone. I really would rather not remember it but I do....I was in a pickle, that was for sure.
So, this year, instead of a bouquet of beautiful flowers, I sent her a package of packed pickles.
(The pickles in the picture are what I bought for my own consumption....they were about $4 each.) There are thousands of different kinds of pickles in Japan. Each region has its own specialty. I live in a region called Kansai (famous areas include Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe).
Kyoto has the most popular pickles in this region so it is a nice thing to send to anyone, not just a m-i-l. Some are sour, some are sweet, some are flavored with miso....The ones I bought today are standard salt pickles...I love pickles so much that all I need for a nice lunch these days is a bowl of rice, a cup of hot green tea and of course, some pickles.
Oh, and while I was at the department store I found three people trying to get on the wrong escalator ... I would try to get off the escalator and someone would be facing me and trying to get on it...three people...in one day... They all looked terribly embarrassed but for some reason so was I!