Story by Kathy Collins | Illustration by Matt Foster
Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:
Some of my friends, da ones who went grow up on da mainland, they get kinda sad around dis time a da year, ‘cause they miss da wintahtime. Couple of ‘em tell me, every year, no feel like Christmas ‘cause no mo’ snow. Wassup wit’ dat? Who said Christmas s’pose to be white?
I know, I know, Bing Crosby. But Bing wen’ sing “Mele Kalikimaka,” too: “Heah we know dat Christmas going be green an’ bright. . . .” And he sound way mo’ happy on dat song than on da odda one.
But my friends, they tell me I wen’ miss out. They t’ink I was, whatchoocall, deprived, ‘cause I nevah grow up wit’ snow in da wintahtime. I tell ‘em no worry, us locals no need fros’bite an’ chap lips fo’ feel da holladay spirit. In fack, I t’ink mos’ people get way mo’ jolly at 78 dagrees than minus whatevahs.
An’ no tell me dat you gotta have snowmans an’ sleigh rides fo’ one traditional Christmas. Da firs’ Christmas, visitahs wen’ come on camels, not Clydesdales. An’ get way mo’ palm trees than pine trees in Bet’lahem.
So when you t’ink about ‘em, one Hawaiian-kine Christmas is mo’ authentic than da wintah wondahland kine. Dass why I no undastand how come people ovah heah spend so much money fo’ decorate da house like they stay at da North Pole. They buy one Christmas tree fresh off da boat from da mainland an’ spray ‘em wit’ fake snow. They hang big wool stockings on top one fake fireplace an’ put blow-up reindeers on top da roof, even if no mo’ chimney. Even da shopping centahs put up giant snowflakes an’ icicles, li’dat. An’ they make Santa wear da kine snowsuit wit’ fur an’ all, fo’ take pick-tcha wit’ da small kids.
If you ask me, they get ‘em all backwards. Mo’ bettah us locals teach da mainland guys how fo’ turn one “White Christmas” into one “Mele Kalikimaka.” No worry, I get plenny ideas fo’ spread da tropicoh mood all t’roo da house, even if you stay snowbound an’ shivahring.
Da firs’ t’ing fo’ do is put up yo’ tree. Bes’ if you can get one potted palm, but if you gotta use one pine or fir tree, at least you can decorate ‘em island style. Go fo’ da natcharoh look: make yo’ own ornaments from seashells an’ top off da tree wit’ one starfish. You can get ‘em from da craft supply store. Or else put dried flowahs on top da branches an’ make one supah long lei fo’ da garland. If you no can get ti leaves or maile, jus’ go find some odda kine vines or leaves. But make sure you know da diff’rence batween Boston ivy an’ poison ivy. An’ while you stay in da woods, maybe you can find some birch bark fo’ weave like lauhala ornaments. No need be fancy; checkah-board squares is good enough. Da simplisahty is part a da charm.
If you get one fireplace, no hang up da same ol’ Christmas stockings. Go get couple, t’ree pairs rubbah slippahs (da mainland stores call ‘em flip-flops) an’ line ‘em up on top da mantoh. I know, you no can fill up da slippahs wit’ stocking stuffahs, ‘cause they keep falling out. But eh, dass couple dozen gifts you no need buy now.
Fo’ yo’ holladay dinnah, you can still cook da kine traditionoh foods, but jus’ add some small kine local touch. Stuff da turkey wit’ red li hing mui. Gotta be red, fo’ give da drippings dat nice festive flair. Or try my fav’rite: honey-glaze Spam. Figgah on one can fo’ ev’ry two guests. Then set da t’ermastat to 80, hemo (take off) yo’ long johns, an’ pour yo’self one big glass pineappoh juice.
Kathy Collins (a.k.a. Tita) is an actress, storyteller, and cofounder of Mana‘o Radio. Like Tita, Ms. Collins grew up on Maui.