I grew up as an only child, in a beautiful home that overlooked the Snake River, from what used to be my grandfather's farm. We could always count on snow frosted tree branches, sparkling snow drifts, and maybe even a Star Trek-like blizzard flying at our car windshield on Christmas Eve as we drove from one family member's home to another. My dad was always the type to give us each a "non-practical" toy or gag gift on Christmas Day, because, "Christmas is meant for the little kid in us," he used to say.
Well, that was then. Yes, as an only child, I will admit to missing other brothers and sisters charging my door early in the morning, or conspiring to open presents pre-Christmas Day, but today, and as an adult, things are vastly different! Eleven years ago, while I was in my early days of college, my father passed away from breast cancer only months before Christmas. That was the first thing to really change our Christmas. In the absence of 1/3 of our small family, we absolutely FILLED the tree with gifts so that we wouldn't notice anything missing. My mom and I continued to visit family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day, we would leisurely sleep in, make wonderful Lehi Roller Mill cranberry scones and hot chocolate, and spend a lazy day opening gifts and lounging around watching Christmas movies.
That changed again almost three years ago when my mother was offered a job in Hawaii and moved to Laie, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. I won't lie. We both panicked a little over what to do! Where do we go Christmas Eve? How do you even get a Christmas Tree? Is it feasible to stock a Christmas with presents when you have an ocean to cross to get them there and back? The answers were much simpler than we thought, and I shudder to think about what will happen when my mother moves home from what has become as much of a new island home to us as our little snow covered home.
So, here's what we do in Hawaii...and I love it! That first Christmas my cousin Kyle came and spent the holidays with us, so it was an easy transition. We just played on the beach a lot, and I learned NEVER to get near big waves again. (That's a story in and of itself!) Yes, we had a Charlie Brown tree that first year, which my mom has since replaced with a small artificial tree, covered in beautiful Hawaiian flowers, shell ornaments, and white lights. My mother usually has to work up until Christmas Eve Day, so I like to head down to the Hukilau Beach, which I can walk to from our house. On Christmas Eve Day, we usually relax, maybe hitting the beach again, where you will find lots of families gathering to simply sit around and chat and play. (I'll be honest, we usually head down with our beach chairs and read a good book!) That evening, we have made it a tradition to attend the Polynesian Cultural Center's famous luau, followed by their evening show. I so look forward to this exciting evening, as the festive decorations and Christmas vibe are overwhelmingly sweet and joyous.
Christmas Day is pretty normal, except that we never wake to snow now! We still take the morning a little slow, still eating our traditional Christmas morning scones (no hot chocolate though...it just doesn't work there), with fresh fruit, and scrambled eggs. Now, rather than hunkering down for the day to cuddle up with toys, games, and Christmas movies, we have to get out to walk the neighborhood. Everyone seems to be out, kids playing with toys, families laughing and yelling out their greetings, all having a great time. Then, we either go watch the sun set, ironically enough, on Sunset Beach or off of Laie Point.
Although my small, maybe somewhat non-traditional, family has shifted and evolved over the past eleven years, we're still pretty simple. What was once spent in a wonderful, snowy covered wonderland, is now spent in an equally wonderful, sandy island paradise. Regardless of where it's spent though, my family is the equation that makes it memorable and happy.
Stop by this year's "2009 Virtual Advent Tour" to visit other bloggers and hear about their holiday traditions and happenings! Thanks to all who put this together for a great way of sharing our holidays with one another.
Now that we're in Hawaii, we like to keep yummy, slushy drinks on hand. I wanted to share our favorite recipe with you, which if kept on hand in the freezer, can just be chunked up and thrown into a glass with Sprite or something bubbly poured over it. We've actually had this recipe in the family for years, but now we keep it in the freezer all through the holidays!
Christmas Party Punch/Slush
Boil together until sugar melts:
2 c. Sugar
3 c. water
Cool and add:
1/2 of a large can of pineapple juice (We actually like pineapple-mango.)
1 can of orange juice concentrate
1 small can or 1/2 regular can of lemon juice concentrate
2 ripe bananas smashed
Ladle into freezer containers or several large cake pans. We find it's easier to chip up if we start off in sheet pans & then transfer the chipped, frozen pieces to freezer baggies. You can then either thaw your slush slightly, or chip it off, put it in a tall glass, and cover with Sprite or some other fizzy drink! (This recipe has been cut in half, as it was too large and meant for a HUGE crowd if doubled.)