Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve in the Islands

On Christmas Eve we hit the beach. I worked hard to finish all the wrapping and preparation the day before so that we could spend Christmas Eve relaxing in the sand and surf. Sand castles and snowmen, snorkeling and swimming, I hope it becomes a new family tradition.

One nice thing about walking to the beach, a lot of our new neighbors were there too. It was fun to wish friends a Merry Christmas as they headed out for spear fishing or came back from walking their dog or boogie-boarding. When some of our friends saw our sandcastle they told us they'd seen people making sand snowmen further up the beach.

What a great idea!

The last thing we did before we left was to pile up a huge mound of sand, then shape him into our Hawaiian snowman. Sticks and kukui nuts littered the beach after last week's storms, so there was plenty of material for buttons, eyes, and arms. We found a pair of goggles that had washed up and put them on top of his head.

Along with us, he wishes you a Mele Kalikimaka and a happy new year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Now It Can Be Christmas

Last Thursday night, one of my new friends and I decided to host a caroling party together. We'd meet at her house, go around the block, and end up at my place for cookies and cocoa.

So I began inviting people. Whoever likes to sing, I said. The more the merrier. I invited friends I passed on the street. I invited the entire church choir. I invited my next-door neighbor. I came from Nevada, you see, where people are too busy for caroling. Where I had to invite twelve people to get four.

This huge mob showed up at my friend's house. My meager stack of twenty carol books were not enough to go around. But as we finished singing through our first carol my friend turned around from the piano, beaming at us, and said, "Now it can be Christmas! That sound in my house made it Christmas."

We took the show on the road. Light rain sprinkled down on us as we strolled. In my opinion, Christmas music sounds best when sung on front porches in the dark. I loved the bright smiles on the faces of our neighbors as I stood with a crowd of singers at my back, leading "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "Oh, Holy Night," "Deck the Halls," and a host of other favorites.

By the time we trooped back to my place I hardly had any voice left. There must have been thirty children sitting on the floor, waiting for the cocoa to heat up. My house was full of people, my table full of cookies, the air full of the sounds of talking and of children taking turns playing their Christmas music on the piano. I kept busy serving drinks and mopping spills, too delighted by it all for anything to go wrong.

As the last guests walked away I smiled to see wayward slippers and a forgotten umbrella gracing my front porch. That meant we'd had people over. I looked forward to seeing them again when they came back to get their missing things.

I've had my caroling party. Now it can be Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rebecca Reviews: Tron Legacy

There was something about the original Tron. It had an amazing alternate world I wanted to visit. It had characters I loved: Tron the noble gladiator, Flynn the laid-back wise-cracking computer genius, and Ram the friendly, faithful actuarial program. Sure, the story was crazy and a little confusing, but there was a sense of fun that carried it through. My family watches it over and over and never seems to get tired of it (though now that we have the DVD my boys usually skip that boring stuff at the beginning and go straight to the light cycles).

As for Tron Legacy, I think watching it once was enough.

The digital dystopia of this new Tron has a gritty, black-and-white feel to it. I missed the eye-popping color of the old grid. And no, I don't want to visit. There were some new ideas in the film, but merely taking light cycles and disk battles to three dimensions doesn't count for originality points on my score sheet. I was disappointed that I didn't connect to the characters as much as I had hoped: Sam, the orphaned loser, Flynn the spaced-out guru who has been chilling in his own digital world for too many centuries while hiding out from his evil twin Clu, and Quorra the artificially intelligent warrior princess. They didn't move me. As for Clu, he had neither the dramatic flair of Sark or the all-powerful presence of the MCP. And I just couldn't see my old pal Flynn turning into a megalomaniac perfectionist, dude. Where did that come from?

What I missed most was the sense of fun. It came through now and then with a clever line of dialog, but mostly the film took itself too seriously. And the ending let me down. At the end of the old Tron movie we free the system and Flynn gets to prove he wrote "Space Paranoids." In the new Tron movie, well, I won't spoil it for you, but don't expect fireworks and a big parade.

Still, I don't feel like I wasted my seven dollars and fifty cents. It was interesting to see where they took the story. And planes with jet walls? That's cool.

So go watch it once, if only to see what they do with Sleeping Beauty's castle in the opening titles.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Caroling - Hawaiian Style

My family went for a walk this evening to watch the meteor shower. My thirteen-year-old son said, "No! I don't want to go! It will be BORING!"

You know how thirteen-year-old boys are. We persuaded him to put down his comic book and come with us.

Half-way around the block we passed a flat bed truck with a big flashing Christmas star mounted on a pole at the front corner. We recognized several of our neighbors sitting in camp chairs and lawn chairs on the truck bed.

"Come with us! We're going caroling!" they called.

How could I say no?

We climbed up in the back and they made room for us somehow. Some of my children sat on the woven mats that covered the bed of the truck, others squeezed onto my lap. The warm, dark night gleamed with stars, the colored lights on the houses, and the carolers' flashlights. A few more families joined us, and then the truck began to roll.

All through the little town of Laie we sang Christmas songs in full harmony. Every time we passed someone on the street, friends in the truck knew their name and would shout out a greeting. At one home they waved us down and handed us a big box of cookies and candy, which the children in the truck pounced on. Midway through the ride one of the boys dropped his slipper off the back of the truck and immediately hopped down to retrieve it. We all stopped singing and shouted "STOP THE TRUCK!" until the driver put on the brakes so the boy could catch up to us.

At last the ride was over. We piled off into the street. "That was so much fun! I love caroling!" my thirteen-year-old son was almost dancing as we walked toward home. "I'm so glad I got to do that!"

Me too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Growing Young

Winter winds whipped the surf white as snow. Overnight the waves had cut the smooth beach into a steep drop. I jumped down to the wet sand at the bottom and ran out into the foam. The next wave drenched the bottom of my capri pants, throwing flecks of sand up onto my knees.

Another woman, wearing gray sweats and dangling an empty coffee cup from her fingers, hiked along the sand above me. She was the only other person on the cold, windy beach. We wished each other a good morning as she passed by.

Run, said the wind and water, so I did, splashing through the waves' white train and feeling the damp sand stick to my feet. I want to grow young here, I thought, and laughed for joy.

I knew there was something to see up around the bend, up around that mound of sand ahead that thrust out into the water. It called to me. My toes dug my way to the top of it and I looked out over the next beach.

Two heads rose above the waves, too small to be children, though at first that's what I thought they were. They vanished, then surfaced again.

"Hello, turtles!" I shouted, searching for shadows of shell and flipper beneath the water. I drank in their beauty as they rolled in the fierce winter sea. Other heads appeared and sank. A whole troop of them! I watched until they moved out behind the high white breakers over the reef.

I love to visit my beach in the morning.