One of the first questions asked of me at internship orientation was, “How do you feel about not being home for Christmas?” The thought scared me and shot a small pang in my heart.
Today is the 6th day of Christmas, and until this year, my immediate family and our Christmas traditions are all I’ve known during these 12 days of celebration. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments I wish I were in St. Louis or that I haven’t felt a sense of disappointment and sadness as I see photos from home and friends reunited with their own families on Facebook. In three weeks though, I’ll be heading home via Chicago, and my parents have promised they’ll keep the decorations up until I get there.
In my family, Christmas is the one time a year everyone comes together, and my heart overflows with love and joy. This year, my heart has been filled in a different way.
Surprise packages have shown up in mailbox reminding me of love that stretches across the miles. Kind texts, Facebook messages, and emails have provided daily encouragement. I’ve been surrounded by a beautiful ohana here and able to experience Christmas in a whole new way.
I watched beautiful hula dancing as the sanctuary filled with candlelight and the sounds of “Silent Night.” I cheered with children about the most fantastic birthday of all time. I rang handbells and sang about a special king born in a manger throne. I was adopted and enjoyed normal traditions like Christmas dinner and opening presents just wearing shorts instead of a warm sweater. I sat on a beach admiring the sunset as I wrote “Mele Kalikimaka” in the sand considering all that Christmas means.
Whether in St. Louis or in Aiea, the Reason why we celebrate is the same. That little baby, Savior of the world, fills our hearts with hope, peace, love, and joy for all time. He is all we need.