I have been a grandmother now for fifteen years and have twelve grandchildren. I feel very fortunate to be able to get to know my grandchildren and enjoy their unique personalities. When it comes to giving gifts to them, I have found that they usually do not remember from one Christmas to the next what we gave to them, so I have been trying to think of a gift that will last in their memories and be meaningful. It is very tempting to buy them expensive gifts so they think you are the greatest grandma in the world. But, that only spoils them, and then they all expect it – because the word gets out really quick to brothers, sisters and even cousins. So what are we grandparents to do?
Many families have a tradition of getting new pajamas or nightgowns every Christmas. These nighties are given on Christmas Eve, so they can be worn during the gift opening on Christmas morning.
You may have a tradition similar to this. Christmas traditions help bind the family together. Some industrious women enjoy making new pajamas for the holiday, or they can be purchased quite inexpensively.
Here in Hawaii, the holidays mean great food. Yes, we usually have the traditional American food, and, because there are so many different cultures living here, we also have a potpourri of other delectable food items to please all the guests and neighbors. So besides the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, you may find on the table some Hawaiian Pork Chops, Hawaiian sweet bread, and one of my favorites, mochi. Here are a few recipes you might like to try.
I grew up in Utah where we have four definite seasons. We lived down the canyon from the ski resorts, and even made igloos in the back yard during the winter.
When I first moved to Hawaii, my Christmas question was: “How does Santa get into the houses to deliver all the presents?”, since most houses here in Hawaii do not have chimneys. The answer was quite simple. He enters through the door.
Of course, Santa comes on a surf board to Hawaii rather than on a sleigh with reindeer.
We also have a diffferent way to say Merry Christmas. It is Mele Kalikimaka. You may have heard our Christmas song.
Mele Kalikimaka (Song Lyrics)
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you
from the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
to say Merry Christmas to you
Mele Kalikimaka or Mele Kaliki Maka is a Christmas song sung as a warm greeting from Hawaii. It came from the Hawaiian pronunciation of “Merry Christmas”.
Since Hawaiian does not have all English phonemes, in particular the “R” and “S”, “Merry Christmas” becomes “Mele Kalikimaka”. It is a transliteration of “Merry Christmas” and not really a translation of it.
The song was written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson who is better known to fans of Hawaiian and hapa haole music as R. Alex Anderson. One of the earliest recordings of this song was by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters in 1950.
No worries celebrating Christmas in Hawaii. Our favorite thing to do on Christmas is take a picnic lunch and head for the beach. Try that in Utah!
Usually the first week of December is when the big town turns on the Honolulu Christmas lights. It is a very festive and exciting time for everyone.
There are rides for the children and plenty of food booths. And they always have excellent Christmas music by choirs, quartets and other groups.
There is an Electric Light Parade which goes down King Street and ends up at the Honolulu Hale. They also have plenty of Christmas decorations and displays. The celebration continues with a concert featuring local bands.
Since winter in Hawaii is usually when we have the largest waves, there are many surf competitions.
Although we celebrate a little differently than in the mainland, Christmas gifts are shared with friends, neighbors and family. It is a time to also share delicious Hawaiian delicacies, hang out and sing favorite songs. Often a family will have a luau with poi, kalua pig, laulau, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia or mochi for dessert (they are ono – yummy!)
artwork by Ruth Kongaika
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