Christmas is swiftly falling upon the wood-framed town in which Cocoa and her friends live. That means Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, and Christmas shopping—and Cocoa’s ecstatic. Since she’s never been to a Christmas market before, and Rabbit House needs some ornaments, the group decides to take a collective trip to the market for some pre-Christmas preparations. As they’re musing about how each of them will spend Christmas Eve, Sharo mentions that, as much as she’d like to enjoy the holiday, she has to work that day. In (almost) unison, Chino and Cocoa exclaim, “Let’s have a Christmas get-together after work!” In an instant, it’s settled: Christmas Eve at Rabbit House with the whole crew. It’s bound to be a celebration that none of them will ever forget.
Especially Sharo, seeing how she’s spent Christmas in years past…
Episode eleven of Is the Order a Rabbit? occupies a special place in my heart. I watched the episode for the first time during summer camp a few years ago (quite unsuitable timing, really) and I remember feeling grateful to have experienced such a sublime work of art. I’m not sure if I’d give the episode the same resounding praise nowadays. Still, as I watch it again, I’m reminded of why I loved it back then—and why I’m keeping up with the series even now. GochiUsa is all about transforming the small moments of our lives into occasions for celebration, and this episode is certainly no exception. Christmas at Rabbit House overflows with laughter and activity and anticipation and all those things that make Christmas—and all celebrations—worth cherishing.
Perhaps no one embodies this spirit of celebration more richly than Cocoa. From the opening scenes of the episode until its end, Cocoa radiates a contagious and constant joy. Of course, she’s got the energetic personality of every scatterbrained protagonist type. But more than that, her joy encourages others around her to be joyful as well. Chino’s the most obvious example: she first comes with everyone to the Christmas market with the express purpose of buying ornaments for Rabbit House, but by the end of the scene, she’s excitedly asking to visit the outdoor stalls for some snacks. And if it wasn’t for Cocoa’s influence throughout the show, slowly but surely pulling Chino out of her shell, Chino would never have even proposed holding a Christmas celebration with everyone. Cocoa may seem airheaded on the surface, but her happiness is much deeper than that—it’s rooted in a firm confidence that every small moment can be an occasion to celebrate if we have the eyes to see it. And it’s because of her confidence that the other girls can find joy in the Christmas festivities as well.
Still, just because we celebrate doesn’t mean that we don’t have work to do. It turns out that the girls had planned a special meal for Rabbit House’s Christmas Eve that year: a three-tier pancake tower, filled with banana slices and strawberries and topped with whipped cream and a cute little piece of mochi. The meal’s impressive. Too impressive, in fact. Soon, Rabbit House is full of customers, so when Chiya, Maya, and Megu arrive for the Christmas party, they’re corralled into helping out. As they’re all serving feverishly to keep up with the incredible demand, the door suddenly swings open. It’s Sharo. “Did I make it in time?” she shouts, out of breath. “You didn’t need to run here,” Lize reassures her. Chiya explains that Rabbit House is a little busier than usual, so they’re helping manage the workload.
Sharo stares at them in disbelief. Falling to her knees, she whispers, “I thought I was finally free from work.” While the others try to assure her that, in fact, she’s under no obligation to help out, our dear Sharo won’t have any of their sympathy. Springing to her feet with new resolve, she immediately takes charge of the situation. Customer turnaround improves dramatically, and with her help, the crew is finally able to complete their orders for the evening.
Several years ago, stardf29 wrote an excellent article on this episode for that year’s 12 Days of Christmas, talking about this scene in particular and the forgotten workers of Christmas. Go read that article. (And while you’re there, read the comment underneath as well.)
I find Sharo’s resolve to work in this scene admirable. In part, it’s because she’s able to serve diligently with a smile. But it’s also because she’s working for a reason—to enjoy the Christmas festivities afterwards. There’s a meal waiting at the end of the day after all the customers have had their fill. There’s joy to be shared at the table after all the tables have been served. It’s because she knows there’s an end to her work that Sharo can work diligently. And it’s because she’s anticipating the celebration that she can rejoice, even while she’s working.
Sharo reminds us why celebrations are important: they give our work a real meaning. The frenetic pace of our daily lives has no meaning unless we take a moment to stop and remember what it’s all for; indeed, the wise men’s travels towards the eastern star would have been futile if they had not worshipped the infant Christ at the end of it all. We need Christmas because we need to rest and rejoice in God, and find in him the purpose we need to continue on our journey. It’s only when we know why we work that we can find joy in working.
But all celebrations must eventually come to an end. After Cocoa and co. have eaten their full of turkey (don’t ask), cake, sandwiches, pizza, assorted fruits, salad, and “sparkling sweet berry juice” (again, don’t ask), they each retire to their homes. It is Christmas, though, and Santa Cocoa is as awake as ever. Tiptoeing into Chino’s room, she chuckles quietly to herself, clutching a pink, bow-tied bag to her chest. Soon afterwards, Chino’s dad follows, holding a large gift box of his own.
Morning arrives, and Chino wakes up to a stuffed stocking. She excitedly empties it out to reveal three gifts: a rabbit-themed merry-go-round music box, a rabbit-themed 3D puzzle … and Cocoa, sleeping peacefully on the side of the bed.
“Merry Christmas,” the sleep-deprived Santa half-whispers.
As the episode draws to a close, Chino and Lize prepare to open Rabbit House for Christmas day. Lize inquires about the music box and puzzle, which Chino has placed on the counter. “Looks like two Santas came to my place this year,” she explains, smiling. “One of them seemed a little scatterbrained, though.”
Here’s to a Christmas worth celebrating!
Is the Order a Rabbit? can be streamed on Crunchyroll.