Here we know that Christmas
will be green and bright;
The sun to shine by day and all
the stars at night . . .
— “Mele Kalikimaka”
by R. Alex Anderson
This local holiday classic is one of my favorite Christmas songs, but it doesn’t ring completely true with me. Blessed with sunny days and starry nights for most of the year, I love a good downpour in December. That’s right, I’m dreaming of a gray Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.
When I reflect on my childhood Christmases, I hear sheets of rain hammering on the roof, and I can almost smell the earthy aroma of our waterlogged yard. I wasn’t allowed to play in the rain, but when the deluge ended, I was free to splash in the puddles and plunge my fingers into the mud in search of earthworms.
Ask anyone who lived here during the 1960s, they’ll tell you that thundershowers were as much a part of the holiday season as the brown paper sacks distributed at church or community gatherings. Those goodie bags always contained an apple, an orange, a couple of nuts in the shell, and several pieces of hard candy, unwrapped and usually fused together in a sticky, colorful clump. We kids would barter with each other; trading mints for fruit-flavored drops, or all our nuts for an inch-long piece of the highly prized ribbon candy.
Nearly every winter, until my high school years in the early ’70s, we could count on at least one or two “rain days,” when school would be canceled because of hazardous road conditions or flooded classrooms. If we awakened to a deluge, our parents would turn on the radio and we’d keep our fingers crossed all through breakfast, hoping to hear the blessed words: “The following schools are closed due to the heavy rain…”
Somehow, even in the midst of rainy season, the annual Christmas parade through Wailuku town almost always enjoyed mild weather. Santa Claus was the grand marshal, of course, tossing candy from his perch atop a wailing fire engine. The Baldwin High School Band, dressed in flannel pajamas and nightcaps, marched behind, playing all our favorite carols. Though I recall my parents bringing umbrellas and rain bonnets, just in case, I don’t think we ever had to use them. I guess even Mother Nature wouldn’t dare rain on Santa’s parade.
As I’m writing this column, the weather app on my phone tells me there’s a 60 to 70 percent chance of rain later this Christmas Day. So I’m holding out hope for a wet and wonderful holiday evening. A nice steady rain makes hot cocoa richer and snuggling sweeter.
And while I sit with my fingers crossed, my alter ego, Tita, would like to sing another local-kine Christmas song for you.
On da firs’ day of Christmas, my tita gave to me . . . one big bambucha Spam musubi!
No mo’ room for da whole song, so we go jus’ skip to da las’ verse:
On da twelf day of Christmas, my tita gave to me:
Twelve Hawaiian bracelets (dass half-dozen on each arm, so jus’ right)
Eleven pounds prune mui (gotta be Auntie Robbie’s one)
Ten cases beer (Tutu only give ten cans; dass not even one case!)
Nine dirty lickens (aftah da beer all pau, mos’ times)
Eight bags opihi
Seven Vienna sausage (’cause dass how much get in one can)
Six hair elastics (fo’ da tita bun)
Five pork laulaus
Foah monstah trucks
T’ree false cracks (no even ask)
Two rubbah slippahs (would be one pair, but da buggahs no match)
An’ one big bambucha Spam musubi!
* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.