One week after Halloween, eighteen days until Thanksgiving, and forty-eight days until Christmas – I believe the holiday season has officially arrived. It’s kind of hard to tell here sometimes though with the sun shining and the palm trees blowing in the breeze.
Brett, YaYu and I decided that because it’s just the three of us here this year, we’d splurge and go out to eat instead of my preparing our Thanksgiving meal, and we’ve chosen to celebrate at the Hukilau Lanai restaurant in Kapaa. Brett and I had a wonderful dinner there two years ago for our anniversary and are happy to have a reason to return. They offer a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving as well as several seafood options which will keep all of us happy. Our reservations have been made – by the skin of our teeth – I think we got the last open table. Meiling will be celebrating Thanksgiving at a friend’s home in Oregon, and WenYu with my childhood friends that we visited with this past summer.
And, just to make the Thanksgiving weekend a bit more special, an old friend will be stopping by Kaua’i on that Sunday. She’ll be on a Hawai’i cruise and the ship will be docking in Nawiliwili harbor for the day (how they get those HUGE ships in and out of that tiny harbor, let alone docked, is something to behold). We haven’t made any plans yet – we’ll decide what to do as we closer to the date. She’s been to Kaua’i before, and we’ll be happy to go along with whatever she wants to do.
Christmas at Casa Aloha was a very big deal last year with our whole family assembled here on Kaua’i, but this year it will be just Brett, me, and the girls. Meiling’s and WenYu’s visits will overlap by only a week thanks to their school schedules but we’ll make the most of being together on the days we’re all here. Meiling will arrive fairly early in December, and then leave a few days after Christmas. WenYu arrives just a few days before Christmas but will be home for a month before heading back to Massachusetts. We had hoped to use our Hawaiian Airlines FF miles to bring them home, but Hawaiian dashed those plans by either requiring an excessive amount of miles for a single economy ticket in Meiling’s case, or offering no flights at all for WenYu. We were able to find somewhat affordable round-trip flights for both of them to Honolulu, and then used our FF miles for roundtrip flights from there to here and back.
Almost all the girls’ presents have been purchased, using both Christmas savings and Swagbucks so we’ve stayed in control budget-wise. I honestly have more fun giving gifts than receiving them, and I’ve been enjoying my shopping so far. I keep my ears open throughout the year for what the girls are wishing for or talking about, then try to get them something both fun and useful that they need or want, something that they would not think to buy for themselves. It can be a challenge, especially when it comes to getting something for Meiling (I needed a list from her this year, but saw a couple of my ideas were already there). For the third year we will not be purchasing or using any holiday gift wrap, but will again use what we already have on hand (reusable gift bags and gift boxes, etc.) and filling in with paper bags from the grocery store, or newsprint. Brett and I don’t exchange gifts at Christmas, but instead do something special for ourselves when we travel. This past year we enjoyed a romantic evening of specialty coffee drinks and desserts at the El Tovar lounge while we were at the Grand Canyon.
We’ll be sending a check to Japan versus sending any gifts though – the postage for even a small package has become truly outrageous. We recently sent a flat-rate package with a gift for our granddaughter and a few treats for our grandson and the postage was nearly as much as what was inside the box!
As someone who used to practically decorate the entire house for Christmas, these days we put up a Christmas tree and a few wooden Santas – that’s all. We bought a large, pre-lighted artificial tree before we moved, one that practically takes up half the living room in this house, but it holds all of our ornaments and we love it. We’ll probably put up the tree the weekend before Meiling arrives home unless she lets us know she wants to be involved. We bought a Native-American made ornament at the Grand Canyon and are looking forward to adding it to our collection of memories.
All three of the girls have already let me know that they want ham and macaroni & cheese for our Christmas dinner – I can do that. Both Meiling and WenYu are also making lists of all the foods they want me to prepare for them while they’re here. I can do that too! I’m already so excited at the thought having both of them at home.
So, I say: Bring it on! Living a simple life these days definitely has its advantages, especially when it comes to the holiday season. All that’s left to do from now is relax and await the time until we’re all together again!