Afterthoughts: Winter Wonder
How can we make it feel like the holidays when it’s 84 degrees out?
PhotoS: Aaron K. Yoshino
It was only midway through October when I saw my first fake Christmas tree on sale this year, long before I’d even made Halloween plans. The next day, we took our holiday photos at the magazine, festive sweaters and all. Yes, the sun was setting earlier and I could sleep with just one fan on at night instead of two, but I wasn’t buying the whole winter thing. My scarves and hats stayed untouched in the closet while I continued to hit the beach. For all intents and purposes, it was still summer.
I spent the first few years of my life in Canada, and while I don’t remember a lot from my childhood there, my memories of wintertime are the strongest, when I’d slide down hills of snow, go tobogganing or snowmobiling with my cousins before warming up inside. In college, I spent a semester in Florence, Italy and absolutely fell in love with the way the city celebrates the holidays, stringing up beautiful lights between all the buildings over a few blocks. Each street displayed different designs and shapes—stars, bows, balls. Some building exteriors were entirely covered in lights. It brought me so much joy. I have no idea how much it must cost to light up an entire city center, but it truly created a feeling of merriment and magic in the 34-degree air. (The hot mulled wine at the Christmas market helped, too.) Everything felt so cozy. I wish we had that here.
I do my best to be festive in spite of the heat. I go to holiday parties, bake cookies for my co-workers, curl up and read on rainy days, and catch up with friends who are far too busy to grab a drink the rest of the year, but when you mention “spiked eggnog” they come out of the woodwork. I eat kabocha soup. I watch the Hawai‘i Kai Christmas Parade and the Festival of Lights Boat Parade with my family. Sometimes I’ll build a snowman out of sand at the beach, with kukui nut buttons and shells for eyes.
It used to bother me that Hawai‘i tried so hard to pretend we had seasons by selling decorations super early and playing Christmas music 24/7 the day after Thanksgiving, but I think I finally get why: Maybe we start celebrating so early because it takes that long to convince us the season has actually changed. We have unique markers for winter here—big surf on the North Shore, humpback whales make their way to our waters, good mangoes are hard to come by—but it’ll never be cold the way it is in other places.
So I have a trick. I go ice skating. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pop-up rink at Ward Village or Ice Palace—as soon as I lace up my rental skates and hobble over to the ice, I’m transported back to being a kid sliding around a frozen lake in British Columbia. This year, I went curling at Ice Palace for a fundraising event. After I finished playing and stepped off the ice, I went straight for the hot cocoa (with marshmallows!) and the s’mores bar (more marshmallows!) to warm up. Just like that, it felt like winter.