Dinengdeng & Pinakbet

… celebrating the holiday season right.

This is the view from Lono Ave. as the fire at Kahului school raged. It happened Nov. 24, 2017 and upset many lives and experiences leading up to the holiday season. Despite this, Maui’s residents—religious or not—displayed great generosity during the holidays. Money and materials alone certainly can’t and won’t restore what the children and their teachers lost in the fire.
Photo: Liezl Paliño Oandasan

There seems to be a lot of talk sometimes about whether the Western holiday season has any meaning in our post-modern, global world. People complain that consumerism overshadows any real spiritual content of the weeks between Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Epiphany. Personally, I don’t really do Black Friday (admittedly I’m one of those last minute gift shoppers). After large holiday meals, I tend to like hanging at home, reading a new book or graphic novel, or watching parts of the Thanksgiving weekend football and basketball games.
But I tend to lean towards what Christian music artist Chris Tomlin 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.”

My wife and I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend at friends’ home in chilly Kaupō.

While we were away, a fire at Kahului Elementary School destroyed a number of classrooms. It looked like arson. As a result, the school closed down for the following week to work on making sure the kids could continue classes on a safe campus and to ensure the rest of the buildings could be safely used.

On social media, the PTSA started to collect money to replace supplies and equipment destroyed in the fire. My high school classmates who attended Kahului Elementary also wanted to look for ways to help the teachers and students. Business people and others in the community contacted the school and legislators offering assistance.
It’s a sign that Maui’s residents—religious or not—display great generosity during the holidays. Money and materials alone certainly can’t and won’t restore what the children and their teachers lost in the fire. But it’s heartening how Maui residents and local businesses have opened their hearts and their wallets for Kahului School and others in need in our community.
I would expect of Mauians that it’s not just a seasonal-thing, as Bob Hope once quipped, “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”

So I’m kinda skeptical about a study that claims Hawai‘i people are not very generous.

I’m one of those who like the Christmas holidays.

“Every December I look forward to seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It’s one of my holiday traditions.”
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Every December I look forward to seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It’s one of my holiday traditions.

So it pained me that I couldn’t keep that tradition this year with my Satellite Dish TV provider continuing its pissing match with the local affiliate of the network that annually airs the Peanuts holiday specials.

I’d already missed “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” But they settled the day after televising the Peanuts Christmas cartoon.
Admittedly, I have the seasonal shows on DVD but it wouldn’t feel the same.

A first world problem, I know.

Family traditions remain at the heart of the holidays. Other customs followed in my family include 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 do some caroling Upcountry and in Central Maui. Doris Todd, where I attended elementary school, 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.
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 Filipino lanterns from bamboo, twine and colored crepe paper.

I tried convincing my spouse (a cradle Episcopalian from Texas) that Filipinos begin playing Christmas carols in September because the Christmas season in the motherland begins in the Autumn. She didn’t buy it. In her view, people should follow the holidays in proper seasonal sequence.
But she was nevertheless amused when my mother left the Christmas lights up on her house for an entire year. But my spouse objected when Christmas decorations went up in certain big box stores even before the Halloween candy had been given out.

My niece came home for the first time in a couple of years this Thanksgiving and we went to her boy friend’s house for his family’s holiday gathering on the Wednesday evening before the holiday. They had all the traditional holiday food—curry, pansit, baked salmon, cancanen, and a little bit of turkey and gravy.

Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, a full-blooded Ilocano (FBI), attended Doris Todd Memorial Christian Day School and regularly went to Pā‘ia Baptist Church as a child. He serves as the State Senator for Central Maui and worships at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku. The background and history of Christ the King was provided by Lucy Peros and adapted from the 75th Anniversary Souvenir Book of the church.

Let’s hope as 2017 came to a close that we can took 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.

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)