Dinengdeng & Pinakbet

Making it a Season for family, friends, those less fortunate or suffering or in grief…

Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

Lydia Coloma and Clarita Dela Cruz caroling.
Photo courtesy Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
The holiday season has come quickly and rather quietly in my family.

No out-of-town visitors expected this year.

We had a small intimate Thanksgiving dinner gathering with simply my mother, my sister, her ex-husband/buddy, my wife, and Makalapua, our new Chug puppy. I heated up some Costco ham (lightly honey glazed) and roasted turkey breast, baked half a salmon filet with pesto and the other half with butter pepper and mushrooms, candied some Molokai sweet potatoes, and mixed up one brown gravy. My spouse steamed some sweet corn-on-the-cob, generously slathered with butter and lightly dusted with ‘alaea salt. My mom brought the steamed rice and utong (no traditional fare like curry, pansit, spaghetti with hotdogs, or cancanen). We finished with a slice or so of pumpkin, custard or apple pie topped with a scoop of ice cream if wanted.

Carolers from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (left) dressed in red before caroling.
Photo courtesy Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

I’m one of those who like the Christmas holidays. Recognizing my spouse (a cradle Episcopalian from Texas) still doesn’t buy my argument that Filipinos play carols early because the Christmas season in the motherland begins in Autumn, I put on earphones in adaptive cultural practice— enjoying yuletide music in any month ending in “‘ber”.

In my wife’s view, people should follow the holidays in proper seasonal sequence.

She was nevertheless amused when my mother left the Christmas lights up on her house for an entire year. My mom strung up Christmas lights on the front yard foliage and eaves of my childhood home in Kahului as soon as the turkey was eaten.

Good Shepherd’s angels (right) for the Christmas pageant
Photo courtesy Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

Family traditions remain at the heart of the holidays. We likely will attend the Christmas Pageant put on by the children of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Parish and a Carol Sing and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. When the kids are home from college, the Parish Youth usually does some caroling Upcountry and in Central Maui.

Filipinos, I think, simply get into all-things Christmas. As kids in Pā‘ia, we had Cook Pine Christmas trees decorated with bright balls and tinsel. My grandfather would make parols from bamboo, twine and colored crêpe paper. Doris Todd, where I attended elementary school in Pā‘ia, would put on an annual Christmas Program—I still recall the tour de force turned in by teacher Leta Carpenter as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Good Shepherd youth annually presents a Christmas pageant.
Photo: Photo courtesy Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

As I’ve written in these pages before, I agree with Christian music artist Chris Tomlin who says: “I think that deep inside, all of humanity knows there’s truth here, whether they want to admit it or not. There’s a joy that come in Christmas. There’s a season of giving, so people feel this generosity.”

Let’s hope as 2018 comes to a close that we take time for family and friends and those less fortunate, suffering or grieving during the holiday season.

As Linus from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” reminds us, the meaning of Christmas remains the hope that comes from gifts of love:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Carolers from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (left) dressed in red before caroling.
Photo courtesy Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran practices law in Wailuku and represents Central Maui in the Hawai‘i State Senate.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2: 1–14 KJV)