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Can you believe it is December already? About a week ago I finished paying off the bill from last year’s Christmas. I sure do enjoy it though. I think being a parent makes you look at Christmas differently. Through them you see it as pure joy. You don’t see the costs or hours in lines or the person who takes the parking space you had been waiting for because owning a Grand Cherokee apparently exempts you from the rules of mall parking etiquette. Nor do they worry about what to get your boss while walking the fine line between “cheapskate” and “brown nose.” Kids know the good stuff about Christmas. And someday, reality will pull that rug right out from under them. Enjoy it while it lasts kids.
Christmas for my kids is different in many ways from my experience growing up on Oahu. First is the weather. The only thing (and I mean the ONLY thing) good about the sun going down at 4:00, is Christmas. Darkness means the Christmas lights will be on earlier, the fire will be crackling, and you won’t be able to see me throwing eggs at your Grand Cherokee. Christmas in Hawaii is built on a feeling with no help from the weather. You can fake winter by spraying flock on your tree and window, which is a snow-looking compound made of asbestos and Cool Whip. But really, it will be bright and sunny in Ewa Beach, like it is almost every single day. My kids live by seasons and Christmas here is dark and cold. So gifts like a bike (which we gave my son last year) say, “Here son, a present you can’t use for months. Feel free to look at it in the shed until April. You’re welcome.”
My kids made a snowman last year. The closest I ever came to making a snowman as a kid was when I took my sister’s shave ice and piled it on mine. Surprisingly I still got a gift from Santa. He seems to be very lenient on this “good list” thing.
Another difference is the picture with the guy dressed as Santa. I don’t remember doing this as a kid, I think because one year my sister did to Santa what today the law would consider 1 st degree assault. End of tradition. Here, every year my Mother-in-law takes our kids and their cousins to get pictures with mall Santa, completely without the will of the children. We have many pictures of Santa forcing a smile while the children are squirming, sobbing, or all out horror movie shrieking. The nice thing is that we can put these pictures in a photo album and as adults they can hand it to the psychiatrist on the first day of therapy, thereby avoiding a lot of introductory talk.
The food at Christmas is very different both in variety and quantity. Mainland holidays are more intimate. Hawaiian holidays are like Shriners’ conventions. Tons of relatives making tons of food. Lines of foil pans are filled with things that once walked, flew, swam, slithered, or stuck to rocks. It is a luau table that not only feeds hungry relatives but also outlines the theory of evolution.
Another difference is television. We didn’t watch much TV at Christmas because there was nothing to watch. There were three channels and one might have a football game. Then after that, 43 episodes of “Let’s Go Fishing.” Plus, there weren’t even infomercials so after a while they would just put a picture of a seagull on there and hope no one would notice. Today there are 40,200 channels and every single show has a Christmas DVD, the least popular being “A CSI Yuletide” and “Tito Jackson Sings Handel’s Messiah.” Folks, you will look long and hard before ever finding someone who will reference Tito and Handel together. That joke, my friends, is a Christmas miracle.
The toys were different. Remember when toys were made out of wood and metal? I realize that Santa had to outsource a lot of the work (much to the chagrin of Elf Union Local 159), but most toys today are made from see through plastic and taco shells. My son’s toy car broke because I stared at it too long. I will say this; the technology of toys now is astonishing. Computer chips in toys have changed everything. One night I had a two-hour argument about trickle-down economic theory with a stuffed Panda. Toys R Us is selling the “Say What You’re Going To Say Before You Say It Elmo.” Our Viewmaster is a GPS. It’s a far cry from the “Etch-A-Sketch.”
There is one major similarity. No matter who or where you are, your kids can be bribed into good behavior like a Senator with a committee chair. Only instead of a campaign contribution, it’s a princess playhouse with magic wand (of course, there have been politicians who would prefer the latter over the former).
That is the beauty of the holidays. Children don’t see hassle. They see love and excitement. Before having a family of my own, Christmas was a chance to get together with friends, drink a lot, and give each other stuff like profane t-shirts and playing cards with naked people on them. Thanks to my kids, I get it now. And I realize I owe my parents a lot of money.
I wish you the happiest of holidays and I challenge you not to cry when Tito sings the “Then Shall Be Brought To Pass” aria.
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