Christmas celebrating started as it always does with an extremely large Hawaiian family get-together in Kahaluu on Christmas Eve. This get together is populated with my significant others’ relations from his father’s side. His Dad has six living siblings who have thirteen kids who are still around who in turn have, I believe, 22 kids of their own, including mine. This is the lot that gets together on Christmas Eve, down the park. “The park” is a piece of land which had been owned by Keanu’s family which was donated to the City and County of Honolulu. It is lovely site right on Kaneohe Bay with a basketball court and an area to launch a boat. Keanu’s grandparent’s house sits on the edge of the park and is the site of the family get together. They are no longer physically with us but I think that their presence remains in a structure where several Uncles and an Aunt still reside. I remember being terrified to attend this gathering the first time but quickly came to realize that any awkwardness came from me. The first time I went, I called everyone Aunty and Uncle and felt like part of the family. As the years went by I found much comfort in this gathering being so far from my small New York family. Eating together, the big tree with tons of presents underneath, listening to the family stories, singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve help make Christmas Christmas for me. So to attend yesterday and see some family that I have not seen in six months was heartwarming for me.
I know from my paddling days that as a vegetarian in Hawaii attending a potluck, I need to bring a dish or risk not being able to eat anything save white rice and mac salad. It is just a fact and one that I am fully aware of. I decided to go a little crazy and make an untried vegetable moussaka recipe. Because I am the only vegetarian and usually try to make something different, there are certain family members who are generally pretty interested in trying whatever I bring. I really appreciate that. I seriously basked in the company of the family last night. I enjoyed the stories from the Aunties about how bad the cousins were back in the day. I loved listening to one tell us how she had come to live on Hawaiian homelands out in Nanakuli. I got the warm fuzzies from the cousin who was able to move to a larger place; giving me hope for my family to find a reasonable and appropriate space. And it was nice catching up with a cousin who Keanu is particularly close to.
Today we woke up and opened presents for what seemed like forever. I have a bad habit of just picking stuff up for my son when I am out Christmas shopping when I see something that I think he might like. I tend to overshop. We did do a really good job of not buying any particularly crappy toys this year. I didn’t even set foot in Toys R Us which is crappy toy central. There were Legos, and a magic set, a microscope and plenty of books. A good haul if I say so myself. After the present madness we headed to Keanu’s parent’s house in Kahaluu (walking distance from down the park). Keanu’s Mom always feeds us well and always makes sure that there is something for me to eat (she is really great!) My son and his cousins spent a good part of the day running around the yard shooting each other with nerf guns. I have to admit that I am not a fan of giving guns to kids, however, these kids were incredibly physically active while dodging and running after each other making it tough to be really hard core against them. It helped that Keanu’s mom bought a set with some eye protection which I think is the only part of the body that might get injured by those soft bullets.
Finally, we ended our Christmas by picking up Chinese food and bringing it to my close friend’s house for dinner. He has recently entered into a relationship and we were meeting his significant other for the first time. We hadn’t been to his house in the Kapahulu area in ages. He had dropped us off at the airport when we initially left for CA in May and he helped us avert a personal crisis at that time. After we checked in our luggage, I realized that I had left my laptop in our apartment. I frantically called him and was able to reach my incredible friend who had not yet arrived home. Despite an ungodly hour, he drove to our apartment in Makiki, picked up the laptop and brought it to me at the airport. Anyone who reads my blog knows that my laptop kind of helped keep me sane while I was in NY. Keanu says that I am lucky to have such good friends in both Hawaii and New York. I also thankful for having such great family ties in both places as well. It makes straddling both much easier. So this is just a brief thank you to all of the people in my life who allow me to do what I do, with a smile on my face.