The CAF Red Tail Squadron hangar is only about seven miles from the  shopping mecca known as the Mall of America (MOA).  This time of year, the Mall (a.k.a. “The Sprawl of America” because it is so large and spread out) is beautifully decorated in a holiday theme.  Of course, every other mall around the country is also decorated and holiday music floats out of their sound systems, too.  The thinking is that getting shoppers in a holiday mood will cause them to open their wallets more easily.  Having all of that psychology starting to kick in before Halloween kind of dilutes the impact in December, but it’s not my call.
     Anyway, 30-40 MILLION people visit MOA each year.  (It seems like at least half of them visit on the one day a year I trek out there to buy filler pages for my Franklin planner!)  An impressive percentage of those visitors are from outside the U.S. and, since the Mall opened 20 years ago, shoppers from Japan have consistently made up a large portion of that group.  It is a destination trip for them.  Many bring empty suitcases (or purchase them here) and fill them up with jeans and other items that are more expensive at home.
     I found it intriguing that Narita Airport, which serves Tokyo, decorates for Christmas so I did a little research.  Although it is estimated that less than 3% of the Japanese population follows a Christian religion, many Japanese observe Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and western style weddings with white dresses, veils, tuxedos and all the trimmings are very popular.  That would certainly explain why these two departure lobbies at Narita have such a western-style “look” to their decorations.   The decorations are up from mid-November through Christmas Day.
Fun Fact:
     Remember that song “Up On The Housetop” about Santa landing his reindeer on the roof?  (I KNOW you remember and now I’ve probably started an earworm in the key of C:  Up on the housetop reindeer paws…) There’s a line in the song that goes “Up on the housetop, click, click, click/Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick.”  If you’ve ever wondered about that “click, click, click” part, it turns out that reindeer have tendons that “click” when they walk so they can keep track of each other in the snowy wild so of course their feet would click when they land on a rooftop!

     With that being said, on behalf of the entire CAF Red Tail Squadron team, I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas.
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit organization that operates under the auspices of the Commemorative Air Force. For more information, please visit


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