Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christmas in Hawaii 2014 & 2015 New Year

Not just any Christmas in Hawaii but Christmas with my daughter, son-in-law, our only grandchild, and it’s my first trip ever to Hawaii. 

With the kids all grown and so many things have changed in all their lives, none of them needed things so Christmas shopping was going to be a little different.  James and Nicole have combined two houses full of stuff and just got married so they had wedding stuff.  They are going to need a 20’ steel container in their backyard to put it all and, hey, maybe that is an idea for next year, but for this year it is date night dinners and movies.  Michael doesn’t usually want stuff--but has quite a bit of stuff, really good stuff, more stuff than he can use in his new apartment with Kevin so he had to bring some of it back to store in mom and Larry’s 900 sq. ft. shop, so they are getting theater tickets to see the shows of their choice in Seattle.  Kelly and Kyle have stuff, giving some away before they moved from Las Vegas, posting free stuff on Craigslist, selling the big stuff, and thinking about the 2,700 sq. ft. house they were living in and thinking about military quarters on base in Hawaii--so they got a family pass for a year at the Waterslide Park.  Sounded so easy--gift certificates--but I think it was harder deciding how to buy 1 big gift than a lot of smaller gifts.  They are happy, Larry and I are happy, Merry Christmas.

That was just the planning of Christmas gifting; now to actually get there.  I stalked Alaska Airlines for weeks hunting down the best fares and flight times.  We could fly straight through heading to Hawaii, but who wants to return via Honolulu to San Francisco to Seattle to Bellingham?  Worse yet was a return from Honolulu to San Diego to San Jose to Seattle to Bellingham.  Really?  I didn’t really want to drive to Seattle and park the car for two weeks and still run into the same sort of return problems.  I wouldn’t give in and it finally paid off, Bellingham to Honolulu with a return flight from Honolulu to Portland to Bellingham.  Those credit card discounts finally paid off with me finding a discount ticket and Larry gets to fly for $99 roundtrip.  Booked.  Done.  Can’t wait.
Our bags are packed we’re ready to go.  Greg picked us up three o’clock to take us to the airport.  It’s nice to have good friends willing to help out.  When we did our online check in the night before Larry suggested we upgrade to first class for the six hour flight so we would be more comfortable.  We are preapproved for TSA so we didn’t have to take off coats or shoes for security.  We found our gate, not hard when you are flying out of a small international airport, a little food, something to drink and we waited.  Our plane arrived and we watched the new crew head out to the plan to prepare for our takeoff.

We waited and heard the first of several announcements that our flight was not ready--over and over again.  We were then told that we needed to fly to Portland to pick up more fuel before flying onto Honolulu because of heavy headwinds, but first they would need to off load and rearrange some of the fuel on our plane before flying to Portland.   

I’m sure you’ve all heard the theme song from Gilligan’s Island “Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip.”  Three hours and three hundred miles.  We should have been half way to Honolulu but we were stuck in Portland.  Refueling and we would be on our way.  Well not so fast, seems there is a hydraulic leak.  We are going to be disembarking and changing gates to board another plane in Portland to take us to Hawaii. 

Our bags were checked but Larry and I each had a small carryon bag.  Walking on concrete is not easy for Larry with a metal plate and eight or nine screws in his ankle but we walked as quickly as we could to our new gate to be told our original plane was ready and to return.  Half way back to our original gate and plane we were told again, no go back to the new gate.  Tired, hungry, frustrated I looked at Larry as we stood in line again and said to Larry now they will need a new crew.  Haha…one new pilot we had to wait for.  Finally we were on board, buckled up, tired and just ready to go.  But wait…you think they would have the plane ready before we got on but no they needed to fuel the plane.  Larry kept sending Kelly text message for updates on our flight and I felt so bad because she had to work the next day.  It looked like our original landing time of 10:12 PM would now be 1:30 PM.

By the time I had finished half a glass of red wine they came to take our dinner orders only to tell us they were out of everything but shrimp.  Well shrimp will make me sick so they finally found me a pork and noodle meal that they sell in the main cabin.  Okay I could deal with it or so I thought.  I tried to read, tried to sleep and realized I was sick.  Probably a little stress, maybe the food, who knows, but I wanted to die and since that wasn’t an option I prayed for sleep.

Kelly met us with an orchid lei for me and a kukui nut lei for Larry.  About the only good thing was our luggage was ready within minutes after we got off the plane and Hickam Air Base is next to the airport.  I gave my sleeping grandson a quick kiss and everyone headed off to bed.

We spent a fairly lazy day around the house on Christmas Eve.  Kelly had to work half a day.  She left a gingerbread house kit for the little guy and me to build using gumdrops, skittles, M&M’s, lots of frosting, dots, sprinkles.  I think the little guy may have eaten more candy than actually went on the house, but that is how kids decorate.

Kelly came home and we made sugar cookies and decorated them.  This is the first time in twenty-nine years that I have not baked ten to twelve dozen sugar cookies.  It was fun and this time grandma may have eaten more M&M’s than what she put on the cookies.

We decided to do a little sightseeing and have dinner out.  Driving around in seventy plus weather on Christmas Eve is just amazing.  Larry and Kyle chose MAC 24/7 at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel for dinner.  We finally made our choices and then the little guy and I explored the hotel and finally they got the floor to ceiling glass doors to the garden open so we could go see the Koi fish. 
We ended the night going to see the Freedom Tower on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman.  What a beautiful sight all lit up with color changing lights from multicolor to solid colors.  The Freedom tower built in 1938 is Moorish in design and stands 171 feet high.  It is octagonal, made of concrete and has eight eagles weighing 2,000 pounds located near the top of the tower.  The tower was built as a water tower and still used for that purpose today.  It was also used as a radio tower during WWII and signs of bullet holes are still visible today.    We ended the night at a small beach listening to the serene sound of the waves and watching small aircraft land before heading home to open that one special present on Christmas Eve--pajamas.

Christmas morning it was kisses and hugs and get up grandma it’s Christmas.  Kelly started a pot of coffee and the adults were then ready to begin.  What took so much time and thought into planning for the perfect gift, what to ask Santa for, the actual shopping for the gifts, wrapping them and hiding them, then finally it’s time to unwrap and it took such a short amount of time.  I will have to say though at five years old our grandson didn’t just tear into and discard each gift.  No, he wanted to open and play with each one and had to be encouraged to keep going.  Spoiled…no way…it’s Christmas and what are Santa and grandparents for.

Special breakfast, which is a tradition in our family, to make all holidays complete; then naps all around and then Kelly prepared a ham dinner and completed our day with a birthday cake for Jesus.  When my children were young I read an article about a woman who baked a cake to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  From then on we had pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate desserts, whatever, but there was always a cake for Jesus and she is continuing this tradition since His birthday is the reason we celebrate the season.

The kids are off to a movie after dinner and papa and I get the grandchild to ourselves.  We have a whole new library of books to choose from, and Legos, and games, and movies.  We are truly blessed to share Christmas with the little guy and his parents.

The only thing better is if I could bundle them all up with my other kids and my mom, all my nieces and nephews and be together.  Yes I am a dreamer. 

Kyle got up early to go get tickets to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.  We never thought about five thousand visitors a day and a limited number of tickets issued per day.  Lucky for us there are some first come first serve tickets given out each morning at seven AM so Kyle made the sacrifice with the little guy to go secure them.  Coffee, breakfast, playtime, time to get ready and go.

We were lucky and found a parking space close to the memorial and showed our tickets and allowed entry into the memorial park.  We walked through one of the buildings that housed artifacts and photos and showed a short film about WWII.   Our tickets were for one forty-five and they announced our tour time, again showing our tickets to the next staging area and showing them one more time for entry into a theater to watch a short film on the December 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. 

We were asked to turn off our phones, no texting, no talking as a show of respect.  It was hard to watch actual video and photos of the death and destruction done to US citizens and our country.  War, the destruction of innocent lives, heartbreaking and not through our own choosing but a war brought on by another nation wanting to own and control what was not theirs.  We won the war but both countries lost so many lives.

After the movie we boarded a shuttle ferry to the memorial.  The memorial is one hundred eighty-seven feet long and spans the width of the ship.  It was hard trying to hold back the tears as you looked overboard and saw the sheen of diesel fuel still rising form the USS Arizona that lay beneath us as a tomb for the 1177 soldiers who went down with her.  At one end of the memorial are the names of the soldiers killed in action.  We took the shuttle back to the park and drove home.  I’m not sure how much our grandson will remember but today he understood that we were viewing a ship that was attacked by a bomb and the people died.  My prayer today would be that he would never have to go to war when he grows up.

We spent a quiet afternoon at home and then Kyle had arranged a date night dinner cruise to surprise Kelly.  Of course that means grandpa and grandma get more time with the little guy.

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