By A.J. Llewellyn
It is my happy task to be blogging today, Christmas, which just happens to be my most favorite day of the year. I pine its passing each year like the loss of a friend and I secretly tick off the months until it rolls around again.
I am in Hawaii where everybody says Mele Kalikimaka. It doesn't matter what religion you are or even if you do not believe in God. Mele Kalikimaka is said by everybody and it fills the islands with joy and hope.
As a little boy, I sat on Santa Claus's knee one fine sunny day in my native Australia and when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I asked for my very sick mother to be able to get out of bed and spend Christmas with me.
I remember the sad look on his face. As a kid, I thought, 'okay he's working on it!' As an adult I know now that he simply did not know how to respond.
He must have listened though because my mother rallied and gave me and my brothers the most wonderful Christmas. I remember waking up to stacks and stacks of wrapped gifts and later, we had Christmas on Bondi Beach. My mother died three months later but for me Christmas will always be the time of smiles and sunshine.
I think this is one of the reasons I love Hawaii so much. It's very much the holiday time I remember. Sunshine, not snow. In Australia, everybody when I was a kid said Merry Christmas...it was not about religion, it was a state of mind.
Since I arrived on island last week, I have been struck by how strongly the tradition of greeting everybody with Mele Kalikimaka has stuck.
Before the missionaries came here there was no Christmas but there sure was plenty of Mele - song. The Hawaiians are musically driven people. So the name they were given for Merry Christmas is the Song of Hope and Joy.
Isn't that a beautiful way to greet someone you know - and someone you don't?
At this time in our world, we need more songs. We need hope and joy. As I prepare to go watch my brother's beautiful children opening their gifts I have one sadness only. That my beautiful mother never got to see what a wonderful parent my brother is or that she never got to hold the children.
I hear her music in their voices and I see her lovely face in my niece's. She is still with us.
My brother went berserk at me this week when he saw the massive box of goodies I shipped here for my nieces and nephews. But look who's talking,
Nobody spent more time furtively shopping at Ala Moana Mall than he did. Last night for the first time ever, he told me remembers the last, great Christmas we had with our mother and how being here somehow makes him feel her spirit on the wind.
He picked out the brightest, shiniest wrapping papers he could find because that's what he remembers of that Christmas. The wrappings. Not the gifts. It's all I can remember too!
I feel my mother here, and I feel hope and joy here every single day.
So today, the last time I can say this to you this year, I wish you Mele Kalikimaka. It is my motto. It is my creed. I wish you all songs of love and I wish you hope and joy.