Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving vs. Christmas

I love Thanksgiving.  It's my favorite holiday.  I think that, in spirit (if you ignore the whole slaughtering of Native Americans thing), Thanksgiving is the purest holiday.  It's all about family, friends, good food, and taking stock of what's important in your life.  It's a holiday that genuinely makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

So I have to confess that I get angry every year that Thanksgiving is more and more overlooked.  As soon as the Halloween decorations come down, the Christmas decorations go up.  The commercials start on TV; the Christmas music gets played in the stores.  The pressure to BUY ramps up about 200%.  

Frankly, I find it sickening.  I realize that Thanksgiving isn't a "consuming" holiday in the sense that it's not really a holiday one buys a lot of stuff for.  I know that this is why American businesses try to rush us straight from Halloween into Christmas every year.  This is what makes it particularly disgusting to me.

Let's ignore the holiday that encourages us to reflect on what makes our lives special in order to BUY things?  What kind of message is that?

I was hoping that I might get away from some of this in Hawaii.  It certainly seems to be outside of a lot of the bad influences of the mainland in a lot of ways.  People are kinder and more trusting here.  They have a a different view on life and what's important.  So I thought maybe this would be different too.  I have, however, been sadly disappointed.  I guess, no matter where you live, you still deal with the same companies, the same chains; they make a cookie cutter life for everyone.

But they can't force me to spend nearly two months celebrating Christmas. They can't suck meaning from me.  I'm going to live life on my own terms.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And I Saw Stars

We started meeting people lately, and that has resulted in two of the more awe-inspiring things I've seen recently on Maui.

First, a couple of evenings ago, I was driving to Kihei to meet some folks for a drink.  On my way there, I was caught between a little rainstorm on one side, and the sun on the other.  Thus ensued the most stunning rainbow I've ever seen in my life.

I truly understand why the rainbow is the symbol of the islands now.  This was a full-on, spectacularly bright spectacle that I could see from one end to the other.  I'd never seen a full rainbow before.  I couldn't capture the whole thing in a picture.  Unfortunately, the pictures that I did take with my phone did not do the phenomenon justice.

It honestly lifted my spirits and made my heart light.

Second, last night, we were invited to an event at Camp Pi'iholo in Makawao, which is upcountry.  I'm rather fond of Makawao and the surrounding countryside.  It rains more up there than where we live, giving it more of the rainforest atmosphere that I know and love from the Pacific NW.

The camp was nice, and so reminiscent of home.  But it's the stars that were truly astounding. You can see a lot of stars from where we live, but we still suffer from quite a bit of light pollution.  Up in Makawao, it feels like you can see the whole universe.  We had gone there for a Halloween party the night before as well, and had spent much of our time looking up.  The things you can see with the naked eye up there - it's hard to comprehend!  I never could have guessed that some day I would be living somewhere where I could merely look up and see a whole galaxy.

As an aside, we also happened to go on a star gazing cruise this week.  The event was facilitated by an astronomy expert who used a microphone to relay facts to the participants and ask them questions.  During a series of questions she asked, I loudly whispered joking, funny answers to my husband that were meant to amuse him.  However, the young man of the couple sitting next to us started shouting out my answers for all to hear, as if he were the one who came up with them!

While I was flattered that he thought my jokes funny enough to share, I found the whole thing frankly somewhat bizarre.  I mean, I was sitting right there and could clearly hear what he was doing.  I guess some people are just incapable of coming up with their own original thoughts.