People celebrate holiday meals in different ways and at different times – for some, the special meal is Christmas dinner; for us, our big meal was Christmas Eve.
As a kid, it seemed like we always had others over at our house for dinner at this time of year. For a while, Marines shared our table.
It started before Thanksgiving …
We grew up on Kāne‘ohe Bay Drive, not far from the Marine Base. The community were always accommodating to those young men.
I remember when I was little, my mother packed us in the Ford Fairlane station wagon and we’d “go for a ride.”
So, there we are, three kids and a mom piled in a car … and my mother was looking to pick up Marines.
It’s not how it sounds.
When we spotted some, we’d stop and offer them a ride – they always accepted.
As we drove them to Kailua (their usual destination,) we used our body and sign language to confirm if they were “the right ones.”
When my mother felt the time was right, she popped the question – “Would you nice young men like to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner?”
They agreed. A few days later, we shared our Thanksgiving dinner with 3-4 Marines.
They then joined us for Christmas; my mother sewed an aloha shirt for each of them as a Christmas present.
Over the years, these guys continued to exchange Christmas cards with my mother; I know it made her happy.
Later, 2-3 members of the Oregon swim team stayed at our house and joined us for holiday meals (UH had a swim meet around Thanksgiving / Christmas and we joined other local families in hosting members of the visiting teams.)
I also remember my parents having a special “champagne” with dinner – Cold Duck (it had nothing to do with the swim team – for them, it was a special wine for the special meal).
For us, in the early years, Christmas Eve dinner was pretty much like Thanksgiving dinner – turkey and the works; in later years we had roast beef.
At Christmas, after all the open houses the neighborhood would go to, the neighbors ended up at our house for Chinese dinner (take out from Ching Lee Chop Suey in Kailua).
As a little kid, the approaching night was a difficult time to sleep – the anticipation, the expectation … the joy of the time. I don’t think I’ll sleep well tonight, either.
And, let’s not forget the reason for the season. Merry Christmas!!!
When we were little, my brother David sang this in a school program – since then, it has been my favorite Christmas song. Here is Willie K singing O Holy Night: