By Virginia Beck
Putting quilts on the beds and turning off fans, we snuggle into sweatshirts and put socks over bare toes. We relish the touch of north winds brushing our island home with a breath of cool, clear nights, studded with stars.
Friends from the Mainland laugh at us as we complain about how cold we are, when the nights sink into the 60-degree zone.
Those of us who have watched our own slow turning of seasons, as sunrise and sunset shift their positions on the horizon, take time to enjoy the gifts that the changing seasons bring us. While we may not celebrate the Makahiki, the traditional Hawaiian end of year celebration, we can celebrate the spirit of generosity.
We cherish the gifts that are given, year after year. Even if it is only digging out that favorite sweater someone gave us long ago, to enjoy once more. We are warmed by the sweaters and the memories of those who have been generous with us.
The island gives us so much to enjoy that is free; and it gives in abundance, greenery, beaches, endless ocean horizons, sunrise and sunsets, day after day. The North Shore waves, whales and rainbows mark the winter.
When times are hard, the smallest of kindnesses can lift our spirits. People don’t need expensive electronics and phones. They need attention and your smile. The kids will not remember if you folded laundry perfectly, but they will remember that you took them to the beach, or soccer. They need to be listened to, reassured, encouraged to take risks and learn new things. They need our respect, our support with tough jobs, like homework, cleaning the garage, or helping wash the car. Shared work is cut in half. Sometimes the best talks come when we are helping each other.
One gift our parents gave us, was that experiences were more important than material objects. So they would take us on an excursion that we could remember with joy forever, rather than a toy that would be broken or outgrown in days or months. With four kids, we learned to share.
The holidays can be a crushing time for those who have lost loved ones, as memories are bittersweet.
Make sure we include those who might be alone at this time. The gift of their smiles may be your brightest holiday decoration.
Hawaiian culture is famous for its generosity; the sharing with others that makes us an ‘ohana, an extended family. I gave up trying to return the amazing sharing that people have offered me over the years, and just try to pass it on. You never know how needed your gift might be.
In December, I look at the extra calories I eat, and my supermarket bills, and think about eating less and giving more of it to the Salvation Army, the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, Child and Family Services and our churches. You can plan for holiday feasts, and still provide for others. They will be the invisible guests at your table.
When times are hard, it is so important to remember how blessed we are to live in a place where people care for each other, the community and the ‘aina.
- Virginia Beck, NP, Certified Trager Practitioner®, does private Wellness Consulting and Trager ® practice at the YWCA Women’s Center in Lihu‘ She is part of the Women’s Health Team at West Kaua‘i Clinics, and can be reached at 635-5618.