Winter in Hawai‘i is not what most folks know winter to be.
And even though the temperature stays toasty and there’s no snow,
we celebrate my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
First the turkey, stuffing, and gravy, holy trinity of good eats,
turkey the only leftover I can tolerate, no matter the iteration,
be it simply reheated, or sandwiches, hash, chili, jook – the gruel of champions –
followed closely, upon finally finishing every bit of the sacred bird,
by all those presents, at least when I was young.
Every Christmas morning I wake up, for a long time now,
and I find nothing for me under my little tree,
even though I leave the milk and cookies,
2% and Nutter Butter, Santa’s favorite by far.
I guess I’ve been naughty for a long time now.
Funny, I had two aunts who twice gave me the same present,
first a toy sailboat, the next year a wood-burning set.
The first time it certainly surprised me, the second time it blew my mind,
and I wondered about the following year, picturing both,
neither knowing the other would purchase the same toy for me,
inexplicably reacting identically to the same item out of a million,
standing there in probably the same store, in the same aisle,
perhaps standing on the exact same spot,
both saying to herself, This would be perfect for Lanny,
then going to the same checkout stand, with the same cashier,
the second aunt actually being given change
with some of the same bills and coins the first aunt had used to pay.
Most of the family members of those aunts’ generation are gone now.
Here in Hawai‘i winter doesn’t drive people indoors the way it does in chillier climes.
The new normal has not fully established itself yet,
but it’s looking like a hard time ahead for some winters to come.
I’m glad I’m not a child now, that I was able to have so many Christmases and Thanksgivings
with all our loved ones visiting each other, those big extended family dinners.
I wouldn’t want to be that magical age now and not know the full joys of the holiday season.