3pm Snack Time

Dear Diary,

It’s been a while since I penned my last entry here. But today as I eagerly put together my little plate of snacks, the memory of my beloved grandma came to me.

Snack time in Japan:

When I was growing up, we’d spend periods of time living with my grandparents in Tokyo while waiting for our parents’ job transitional periods. During this time I would remember this one habit that I would never forget:

3 O’Clock snack time.

The clock will hit the hour and the chime would ring, and the smaller grand children would gather around my grandma to get snacks. She would reach into the cabinet and pull out wonderful Japanese snacks like cookies, Pocky, rice crackers… At our home, we never had that kind of wonderful habit. Both parents were usually busy so we were left up to our own means to grab snacks after school, and that usually meant an apple. What was different with this though was that grandma would carefully count and ration out the sweets, which meant that each piece felt like a precious commodity. If you’d just as much try to negotiate for more, she’d give you the stern look that will end any further conversation.

When it came to Roast Pretz (my favorite snack), she would dole out 5 sticks to each child.. No more, no less. I would save them for last and take nibbles so that each stick was fully appreciated.

Not sure if this custom is still continued in Japan, but if you watch some of the older Japanese cartoons, they refer to it as the 3 O’clock snack time.

That said… I have a feeling that if my grandmother was to see my current plate of snacks for my “afternoon tea”, I could already hear her saying there’s 1 or 2 items too much, LOL.

The Snack Punishment:

Needless to say…. while I did mention that at our home it was a custom to have an apple for a snack after school, there were a few times where I had access to the cookie tin and had gotten carried away while eating them. My mother – who does not have a sweet tooth and usually does not care about the cookies that much – has a knack for catching me shortly after these “crimes” have happened (I seriously believe this she’s got mad skills in this department). That very after dinner, following my over eating of cookies, my mother decides to pull out the cookie tin because she felt like having something sweet. She opens and discovers that half of the cookies in the tin are GONE.

My sister never did these kinds of things and my father is not a cookie guy so of course the immediate suspicion falls on…moi. As soon as she discovers that I am the culprit, she swiftly administers a slap on the butt cheek and then I’m sent out in front of our house with me crying, to contemplate on what I’ve done wrong. There was no grounding as to going to one’s room (that was a luxury) but simply be tossed out in the night, to sit in front of the house to ponder on the punishment. Funny how I thought that was the worst punishment there was!

Now the only punishment we’ll ever get as adults at the best is either a tooth cavity, getting fat or worst, diabetes. But I will be forever thankful that my parents and grandparents had instilled this thought of frugality in my upbringing. Now if I had to take small bite out of the corner of a piece of chocolate and save the rest for later, I have that self-control (what good does that do, I have no idea).

Appreciate the little things in life,

Little (snack-ified) Reiko and the fully satisfied Turkey.

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