Editor’s Page: Moving Mountains of “Stuff”

Rediscovering the reason for the season.

I used to dread the holidays.

The reason for the season was lost to consumerism. What also drove me nuts was clearing our condo for the mountain of gifts that our only child, Crystal, received every December. That’s what happens when you’re the only grandchild on both sides of the family. 

One year, I made a suggestion to family and friends: Let’s forgo Christmas presents and give the money we’d normally spend to a local charity! 

They agreed to donate to a charity, but they still wanted to get and buy gifts to show their love. 

The following January, my husband and I made a pact to reevaluate our values. We noted homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks of our Kaka‘ako neighborhood, showed Crystal photos of Syrian refugee families, signed her up to pull weeds and paint floors at HONOLULU Family’s Volunteer Days, and sponsored a girl from Indonesia when the nonprofit group Compassion International came to town.

Something must have clicked. Months later, Crystal announced she didn’t need “more stuff” at her upcoming birthday party. In lieu of gifts, her guests would donate to a local animal shelter. Nothing describes the sheer excitement of 18 little girls arriving at a keiki party with cat food, squeaky toys and bags of dog kibble!   

Giving back is an ongoing process, especially for families just trying to survive in high-priced Hawai‘i. If we adults can practice kindness, stewardship of the land, empathy and compassion—and learn to differentiate between needs and wants—maybe we can help our keiki preserve local values and continue the aloha spirit our state is known for. 

This holiday issue is about practicing those values—and the joy and satisfaction keiki can feel when serving others. Page 12 has two-dozen fun, kid-friendly ideas on how families can give back. It’s a companion piece to our sister publication HONOLULU Magazine and its January 2020 coverage on volunteerism. And, if you accumulate “more stuff” in your home post-holiday season, flip to page 72 for  decluttering tips.

From HONOLULU Family to your ‘ohana, we wish you a very merry season! 

Cathy Cruz-George, Managing Editor