By Léo Azambuja

Christmas is just around the corner. For many of us, this is a time of lavish dinners, fun parties and exchanging gifts with family and friends. This is a time when we strengthen our bonds with family and friends.

But there are quite a few of us who are not so fortunate. They may not have a big, fat turkey for their Christmas dinner, and many of them may not have a dinner at all. Some families can’t afford Christmas gifts for their kids, and if they still buy gifts, they may be sacrificing money for groceries. Some of us don’t have any family to celebrate the holidays together.

Luckily, there’s plenty aloha going around on Kaua‘i. We may not be rich, but our island community is always willing to share with family, friends and even strangers. This always becomes evident during times of natural catastrophes, large fundraising events and especially during the holiday season.

I don’t know where this sharing tradition comes from, but I suspect it comes from different channels. Perhaps the strongest channel is from the native Hawaiian tradition of sharing food with others. The strong foundation of plantation workers in our community may have helped as well. During the plantation era, tens of thousands of immigrant farm workers poured on the Hawaiian Islands to work on sugarcane and pineapple fields. Those immigrants were humble people, coming from rural communities in their home countries. They valued family, respect and hard work. They also valued human relations and good food, a catalyst for tight-knit communities.

All these only contributed, in my opinion, to this culture of giving and sharing we have here. We are very fortunate to live on Kaua‘i. Yes, we have our problems, but I believe that overall, we deal with them and move along happily, aided by the beautiful community and environment surrounding and nurturing us. There are times when we may let our problems and frustrations bite us and bring us down. But there is always the sun to warm us, the tradewinds to cool us off, and the people to shower us with aloha. We can’t escape that; and we have no choice but to recharge and also share aloha.

Léo Azambuja

It is really inspiring to see nonprofit organizations such as the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank — which started as a grassroots effort in the aftermath of Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992 — to grow so much and become a key provider of nutritious food for some of the most vulnerable sections of our community, our keiki and kupuna. And they still keep on distributing food for the needy.

I also commend the long-running Festival of Lights, following the Lights on Rice Parade, both an incredible effort from many in our community to bring joy and highlight, no pun intended, the Christmas spirit.

This Christmas, I want to thank our community, businesses and nonprofit organizations for supporting us and each other during 2019, and for the new year ahead. Without you, we couldn’t produce this newspaper for you.

Mahalo for your continuing support. Mahalo for sharing your aloha.