What The Fates Allow

I sit with my back to the Christmas tree, a roll of wrapping paper on the floor in front of me. There are a dozen or so gifts to wrap for the children and I am excited. This will be the loveliest Christmas we've had in years.

I roll the thick paper back onto itself and press it down to give myself a crease, the way my mother taught me when I was young. I slide a knife through the fold to give myself a good cut edge, and then flip the paper over. The first gift to be wrapped is a darling Playmobil set I would have adored as a girl. Who are we kidding? I adore it now.

That First Afterwards Christmas

This year I get a pink Le Clic camera. I immediately load a disc of film into the back of the plastic case, delighting in its slippery newness.

My sister gets a blue Le Clic because Mom insists on getting us matching presents. Celine gets blue because she refuses anything not blue. She owns blue, as if that's possible. I get whatever other color there is because I'm not particular, only that's not quite it.

Mom doesn't have to tell us to open our gifts at the same time anymore; we've learned for ourselves the lesson of a spoiled surprise. There are few surprises these days anyway, since Celine and I are both relentless and clever about guessing our presents. Sometimes Mom just laughs at our pre-Christmas antics. Sometimes she get truly angry. This year she is more angry than amused.

Baby's First Christmas

I start first grade and feel apprehensive. I don't know that word yet, but I know what it means. My mother's ʻōpū swells around the baby she's carrying and I don't know if I want to be happy. I'm too big for her to carry now, she tells me. But I know it's actually because of the baby.

My cousin Candace asks me if I'm excited to be a big sister and I shrug.

"Well," I tell her plaintively, "I guess I won't be the baby anymore."

Mommy said I have some time to get used to the idea. It's only September and the baby won't be here until right before Christmas. She seems excited about it.

So This Is Depression

Oh man, I wish it was just sadness.

I mean, there is sadness, but it's not just sadness. It is ache, but it's not just ache. It is restlessness and anxiousness and lack of appetite and fatigue and pain. Everywhere, everything, pain.

It just hurts right now, to be awake. It feels like sickness. Like influenza, only not.

I have no fever, no cough, no running nose. No mucous to expel as a sign of my sickness. No proof of what's going on inside of me.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks For Readers of Every Age

"Don't step on that book," my grandmother would chide. "Books are your friends. "

She loved reading, and probably couldn't imagine raising a child without instilling the same kind of reverence. With her books as gifts and regular public library visits, she saw to it that the children in her care would become avid readers. And because we were Hawaiian children living in Hawai'i, she was able to give us a luxuriously diverse reading experience that I completely took for granted.

One Hundred Word Wednesday: Happy Birthday!

We used to have the biggest, most magnificent birthdays as children, wearing grandma-made paper crowns at our game-filled parties. Surrounded by cousins, eating sugar roses off our beautiful cakes. And oh! The school day parties with Grandma sending us off with beautifully strung lei, then bringing a flat of homemade cupcakes and goodie bags for each and every classmate.

And then, you know, adulthood.

Nowadays my sister and I have been sending the same song back and forth to each other on our birthdays. It may not seem like the most robust tradition, but it's ours.

#MicroblogMondays - My Grandmother's Hula

We watched a halau perform at the festival yesterday, and there was an older woman whose hula reminded me of my grandmother. She'd been told by her father that she would never really be beautiful, so she should concentrate on her hula lessons to make herself more attractive. And you know? As dickish a thing as that was to say to his own daughter, I have to admit that he did inspire her. She was a beautiful dancer, her whole body becoming somehow more alive when she performed.

Nanakuli Side

Today would have been my dad's 70th birthday, so I wanted to share a little bit of him. Happy birthday, Dad.

"My turn, my turn!" I called as I stretched my arms out towards him. He took my tiny hands in his strong, huge ones and pulled me up. My feet left the carpet, landing on his shins. I walked up over his knees and thighs, making their way to the round belly that became my springboard. Then, my hands still held tight in his, I launched myself from his sturdy torso, flipping over to land back on the carpet with a thud.

The Haku Lei My Grandmother (Re)Made

May Day is Lei Day in Hawai'i, and nearly the whole state vibrates with an air of Hawaiian magnificence. Schools everywhere hold grand pageants with a Royal Court elected from the student body. There is hula. Celebration.

And, of course, there are leis.

Second only to the Christmas pageant, the Sacred Hearts Academy May Day celebration sent excited ripples through every grade. Each class had something they were working on for the special day, turning our usual Arts & Crafts periods into giddy preparation.

Twenty-One Years Without Grandma

died Jan. 8, 1993.

She was born in Honolulu and was a member of the 'Ohana O Thomas K. Maunupau, Emory III Expedition, Kapahulu Music Club, Legion of Mary, St. Ann’s Church and Bible Study, St. Augustine’s Church.


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