The days before Christmas always seem to be tied down with parties and last minute shopping. For the most part, it takes the attention away from its true meaning. Christmas has now passed but it is during the few days after that I can really reflect on the past year.
One of the things that helps me bring it all into perspective is a trip we took to the islands as a family over 20 years ago. I was a junior in high school and that trip still stands out because it was during the Christmas holidays. My parents would often speak about their lives growing up on the islands but it was tough to relate to because of the circumstances in which we lived.
I remember swimming in the clear blue ocean. The smell of the summer breeze. I remember how cool it was to eat fresh fish over a beach fire. I remember taking a shower in cold rain water and hurrying to get warm in the sun. I remember sitting in the outdoor kitchen while dinner cooked over hot coals. I remember running through my grandfather's farm land and admiring the crops that were ready to be harvested. I remember watching my uncle riding his horse without a saddle and thinking how cool he was. I remember going to an outdoor dance where the band played only guitars, ukuleles, and banjos. So many more things come to mind but one particular experience stands out.
On Christmas morning I remember asking my parents if we were doing presents. My dad gave me the look of death and I never spoke of presents again while we were there. I could smell the fresh bread and hot cocoa in the house. The anticipation of dipping that bread and butter into a hot cup of cocoa made my mouth water. I quickly realized that it was not for us but for the neighbors. It is tradition for neighbors to exchange this fresh breakfast treat with one another. As we visited neighbors that morning to deliver this humble meal - I got it. I finally got it!
No tree, no wrapped gifts. Just fresh bread and hot cocoa. It will always be one of the most important gifts my parents could have given me as a young man. I will never forget those experiences.
Overcome. Achieve. Victory - IKUNA