Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023 |
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One of the biggest surprises during this, my first year on Kaua`i, is how strong the island comes out for Christmas.
The cynical might say the celebration is simply another part of the tourist industry, but I can see that isn’t the whole truth.
I live right in Lihu`e, and there are houses on my street so lit up you could read all night in their front yards.
And the historic county building, also in the heart of Lihu`e, is aglow with Christmas lights (and decorations).
I am a guy with a cynical veneer, but underneath I’ve always been a sucker for the holidays. I won’t debate that Christmas has become too commercial in the American culture – it has. In fact, I’ve written that very column in the Seattle area, where commercialism is a religion and Yuppie is not a dirty word.
But here I get the feeling, in the stores and on the streets, that a lot of people for religious or simply social reasons love Christmas, and that makes me feel good because I do, too.
I’m sure there are people, even in this sunny place, who start feeling all purple and down about Dec. 24. My youngest daughter has been visiting for the last 10 days, but she leaves tomorrow and my housemate (another newspaper haole) and I will be doing Christmas without benefit of family.
Now, even though that’s not how I prefer to celebrate Noel, I’m still looking forward to the day itself. I like Christmas, simple as that.
Following right on the heels of Christmas is the holiday I always enjoy even more, New Year’s Eve.
When I was younger I loved New Year’s Eve for the same reason everybody else I knew did: Party down, dude. I can still remember where I was on New Year’s Eve in 1966, 1974, 1987…well, you get the idea.
Those nights were marked with new and exciting experiences or with parties that stretched into the morning hours.
But as I’ve aged, and hopefully matured at least a tiny bit, I’ve come to love New Year’s Eve for a different reason. I don’t even go out on the last day of the year much any more. Instead, I use the night for stock-taking, for doing a personal inventory.
I go through the previous year as honestly as I can, breaking the past 365 days into categories: ?
Family and friends.
Then I try to decide where my life is adequate and in what areas I’ve fallen down and need to improve. I top it all off with three or four New Year’s resolutions.
This process, which I’ve been using for the past eight years, may seem silly or overwrought to the uninitiated. And maybe, if you’re the type of person who can just do it – put your mind to a problem and solve it – my system is definitely unnecessary.
But I’m a guy who has to think about things and then promise myself I will try. Otherwise, inertia gets me, and I don’t think I’m abnormal in this area. Look at the diet industry or the proliferation of 12-step groups.
And for me, at least, making resolutions works. Some of the time, anyway.
I smoked cigarettes for 37 years. I quit for one year when my ex-wife was pregnant with our youngest daughter – the one who’s visiting – so that my ex-wife could quit. But that wasn’t for me, I did it for a healthy baby.
But in 1997 I resolved to quit smoking. I stopped and started six or seven times in four months, but on May 9, 1997, I quit and I haven’t had one drag since.
Last year, and judging from letters and e-mails this won’t please everybody, I decided I had been with the Northwestern newspaper chain I’d worked for since January 1997 long enough. I started looking for something completely different, and here I am. Took seven months, many resumes, but in July I took a job with The Garden Island.
I tend to get things done only when I promise myself, after much inner wrestling, that I will change.
I haven’t made this year’s resolutions so far, but while I’m thinking about it, I hope all of you, fans and critics alike, are having a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
TGI staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and firstname.lastname@example.org
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