The Christmas episode of the cute-girls-doing-cute-things-extraordinaire show Is the order a rabbit? (episode 11 of season 1) starts off simply enough: the five main girls go to a Christmas market to buy some ornaments for the tree at the Rabbit House (the café where three of them work) and enjoy themselves a bit while they are there. They start talking about their Christmas Eve plans, as Chino, Cocoa, and Rize will be serving special pancakes at the Rabbit House, while Chiya has her own special menu at her restaurant.
I should note here one major difference with Christmas in Japan: it is not a national holiday, and as such, most schools and businesses are still open that day. Whereas in many Western countries, Christmas is culturally a time to take a day or two or even a couple of weeks off, in Japan, the holiday is celebrated mainly as a fun diversion where presents get exchanged, couples get romantic and everyone eats KFC (yes, that is a thing). As such, for the four girls who run or otherwise work in food service, planning to work on Christmas Eve is nothing unusual.
And then there is Syaro. Poor Syaro.
Literally, Syaro is so financially poor that, while she could ask for time off at the restaurant she works at part-time, she plans to work there on Christmas Eve anyway for the extra pay. To help her get some relaxation time, the other girls decide to hold a Christmas party at the Rabbit House after their dinner service. For Syaro, who is used to “celebrating” Christmas with a single daifuku with a candle (yes, she is that poor), this sounds like a dream come true, and she pushes through the grueling work of handing out flyers in the cold in the hopes of relaxing at that party.
Then, late that night, she arrives at the Rabbit House for the party… only to find that the place is still packed and everyone is still working; even Chiya and Chino’s elementary school friends Megu and Maya, who were there just for the party, were helping out.
Naturally, Cocoa says that Syaro can just sit down somewhere and relax until work is done, but at this point, Syaro’s work ethic is too deeply ingrained in her…
Syaro immediately gets into the work uniform and starts directing the others in service like a hardened veteran of the food service battlefield. What follows, aside from some great Engrish from Syaro, is a cute montage of the girls working together to serve customers on a Christmas Eve.
So here we are, with a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show, a type of show notorious for portraying life in the most idealized, rose-colored way, and deciding that the best way to show off Christmas… is to have everyone working. To the Western world that normally associates Christmastime with time off work and relaxation, they might react much like Syaro first did. Maybe showing the joy of work any other time of the year is fine, but Christmas? That should be a time to get away from work, right?
And yet, if everyone thought that way, even our Western world would be in a lot of trouble.
At the very least, you would need some people in various “protective” services: police to keep troublemakers at bay, firefighters in case someone’s Christmas tree catches on fire (keep live Christmas trees well-watered!), hospital workers if someone gets seriously hurt, and some military members stationed to protect the country from those who do not respect the idea of Christmas truces. Beyond that, you have a handful of businesses that choose to stay open, including many food service businesses that cater to those who do not celebrate Christmas or who want to celebrate it with someone else’s food rather than their own. Even excluding paid work, you have many people who work hard around the holidays to organize and host Christmas parties, and everyone who works or volunteers at a church to set up and hold Christmas services.
If you think about it, we often talk about how the spirit of Christmas should be more about giving rather than receiving, and how we should enjoy the happiness of giving gifts more than receiving them. If that is the case, the giving of one’s time to make others’ Christmastimes more enjoyable should fit right in there. Of course, not everyone should be pushing themselves to work during this time; some people work so hard during the rest of the year that they need the time off. Overall, there is nothing wrong with choosing to celebrate Christmas by relaxing with family and friends.
Nevertheless, take some time this Christmas to appreciate those people who do work during the holiday. If you know any such people personally, consider giving them a special gift to show your thanks. And if you yourself are working this Christmas, my Santa hat goes off to you for your service. May your Christmas still be merry and joyful even during your work.
And if you are looking for a way to relax after work, why not watch some Is the order a rabbit? on Crunchyroll?