Holiday Memories: Santa arrives in a canoe during holiday in Hawaii

Many years ago, my husband Bob and I planned to spend Christmas in Hawaii. We would take our three little kids to Honolulu for the vacation.

As a fairly junior copilot for Pan American World Airways, he often had to fly on holidays and we might have to celebrate Christmas a day or two early or late. Our children felt a little left out on Christmas Day when they saw our neighbor children were so excited and having fun. We'd say that Santa Claus could not do it all in one day, and they accepted.

This year Bob had the holidays off and arranged for all of us to go to Honolulu from our home in California. Company policy required that we travel on standby. We prayed that we would all get aboard. This time we did and it was great! This was in the days before the large jet planes.

We stayed at a small, simple hotel on the beach. Waikiki was much different in those days with only a few high-rise hotels compared to the series of high rises now. We could walk one block to the beach and it was much fun. The girls, Karen and Dulce, ages 6 and 4, noticed it did not seem like Christmas in our hotel room, but Scott was only 2 and didn't relate that much.

I always tried to teach my children to be resourceful. They looked in the drawers of the dresser and found white paper linings. They quickly removed the paper, Scotch-taped pieces together and cut it into a tree shape. Then they got out their crayons and colored balls and decor on the paper tree. We had a decorated Christmas tree! We taped it up on a door full length. Very festive! We had no wrapped packages to put under our tree. Our trip to such a beautiful place was our Christmas gift.

The highlight was the arrival of Santa Claus in front of the Outrigger Canoe Club and Moana Hotel area on the beach. He was in traditional costume except for his sleigh. He arrived on an outrigger canoe! As he got closer and closer to shore in his jolly, red suit there was lots of excitement among the crowd waiting for him to emerge in the sand.

Then traditional Christmas carols were sung by local groups wearing flowery Aloha shirts and shorts and leis. It seemed strange at first, but correct even in this tropical setting, and it remains an unforgettable Christmas.


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