My son’s birthday is one week before Christmas. We have always tried to keep the two separate. I try to wrap the birthday presents in non-Christmas paper. We try to wait to get the Christmas tree on his birthday or the day or so after. This is a score for me since then we only have the tree for about a week. I personally love that. Sometimes we do crazy birthday things that take time and money and put my holiday planning more on edge than it would be otherwise. This was one of those years.
It has been a tough year. There has been some death. There has been a dad who is working two jobs which makes us miss him quite a lot. There have been school troubles. Car troubles. And well, it felt like we needed a bit of a family vacation. So I planned a trip to Aulani, the Disney resort on the other side of the island. I checked the rates and they were outrageous. I made a couple of calls to see if I could finagle a better rate. I could not. I sucked it up and booked it anyway. Two nights, the week before Christmas. But there I was, scheduling dinners and character breakfast. I figured that my son is turning twelve and may soon not want to hang out with us. He is painfully close to being a teenager. We just wanted to have fun before all the hair and hormones.
I checked the Aulani daily schedule online to see what great things we could participate in while we were there. It turns out that my significant other’s Uncle would be playing at the ‘Olelo Room on Sunday night, the night our son turned twelve. And this seemed fortuitous and special. My son’s great uncle is a famous local musician (Jerry Santos). Not only is he a famous local musician, he actually gave us our son’s Hawaiian name. It is a tradition that a kupuna (family elder) provide a child’s traditional Hawaiian name. We had asked Uncle Jerry to do this for us when I was pregnant. And he did. And my son’s name is very long and very beautiful and very meaningful to me. He sometimes struggles with it. It’s length (we had a fight with the social security office to get it on the card in its entirety). The fact that almost no one can say it. The fact that it is hard to spell. And, I suspect, he will continue to have these types of problems as his need for filling out forms increases. He will never have enough boxes for all of those letters. I only hope that as he grows older he will recognize how special it is.
We arrived at the venue where Uncle Jerry would be playing early to get a good seat but almost all of the seats were taken. We ended up towards the back near the bar’s noisy entrance. When Uncle Jerry arrived, my son and his dad went up to say hello before his set started and he waved back to me. Uncle Jerry’s music is wonderful and he has a beautiful voice. During the set, he talked about celebrating special occasions. He said that his nephew was in the audience celebrating his birthday. He sang happy birthday to him. My son was alternately touched and itching to leave and go night swimming. It was a struggle but he realized that he needed to stay. And that, in the grand scheme of things, staying was more important. When the first set ended, we all went up and shared hugs. And I took a great picture of the two of them. It was truly magical.
The rest of our time at Aulani was fun. We got to “meet” Moana which, in the grand scheme of character meeting, was a real score. But, I think that the highlight of the trip was the time spent with our family. Reconnecting. It felt like it was meant to be. On that day. At that time. It helped ground us and remined us of, ourselves. Our family. And that was……everything.