It’s been hard to focus over the last few days for many reasons. Jet lag, current events (Michigan, Covid, Supreme Court, ALL of it), and the holiday scramble, but I’m going to take a minute and focus on the joy that was November.
1) We finally traveled to Hawaii to reunite with family (my Mom’s side of the family and my sister’s family all live there). It’s been 2.5 years since we were there last. That’s the longest the kids (and possibly me?) have gone without seeing them.
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Blue skies and warm days with breezes at night. Of course being Hawaii, it rained now and then, but only in short bursts.
2) The 10-year-old had to take a Covid test to avoid Hawaii quarantine laws. Talk about anxiety-provoking! Even though she was not visibly sick, knowing there was a teeny chance she could be asymptomatic and test positive was nerve-wracking to say the least.
Travel itself was pretty smooth, considering we went around the Thanksgiving holiday. Ticket prices, however, were nausea-inducing.
3) There was a lot of catching up to do, not just with people, but with food! Auntie Melinda kept herself crazy busy making lots of our favorite things like butter mochi, halo halo (Filipino dessert with grated coconut, papaya, avocado, tapioca balls and random other starchy ball things), garlic shrimp and miso butterfish.
4) Mom stocked her fridge with fresh coconut, mangos, papayas, pineapple and coconut water ice cubes made from actual coconuts vs. store-bought coconut water. Pretty sure the girls and I ate ate two mangos a day between the three of us.
5) She had also frozen some lychee that a relative had brought with them from the Big Island (Hawaii) a while back. I love the taste of lychee so much. It’s delicious fresh or frozen and surprisingly doesn’t get mushy when thawed out.
I concocted a cocktail with four smashed lychees, juice from half a lime and a splash of tequila poured over coconut ice cubes. Not bad!
6) We celebrated Thanksgiving at my Manang (older cousin) Jocelyn’s (and Manong Ino’s) home, eating outside on their covered patio (soooo many beautiful plants!). It was the first time everyone had gathered together since the pandemic, so we were all extra happy to be there.
7) As is customary in Hawaii, we did a Thanksgiving potluck, so along with traditional items like turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and brussels sprouts, there was rice, beef stew, lumpia (Filipino eggrolls), pancit (Filipino noodles), kalbi (Korean bbq beef, my fave), shrimp tempura, roast pork and more.
8) We were able to get our beach fix, spending the majority of our time at Kailua Beach. It can get really windy there (and did), but it’s so pretty and the waves are a great size for the kids – not too big, not too small.
They (husband, kids and sometimes my sister and her family) saw lots of sea turtles (I didn’t go in the water, but I did see one for a few seconds, it was awesome) and some man-of-wars, and made sand sculptures – the Titanic hitting a boulder and a crab, inspired by an actual crab that scurried out of the sand and scared the girls!
9) I met up with one friend (as I was only there for a short time and wanted to spend most of it with family), Nancy, my longest ever friend relationship (since 5 years old).
We went to a plant and pottery show around Ward Centre. The pottery was really inexpensive, but I didn’t buy anything because of the breakage factor. Nancy is a plant connoisseur of sorts and knew right away that a certain display was of rare plants. She pointed out this (above pic) anthurium specifically and sure enough, the price tag on it was $450. It was definitely impressive.
10) She took me to lunch at Sakura Terrace, a Japanese restaurant serving traditional bento boxes. I LOVE a good Japanese bento box and this one was amazing. And doesn’t food always taste better when it looks pretty? I think 100% yes. It was so beautifully presented, even the salad was a work of art.
11) Check out this insane ficus plant. It started out as a houseplant. My mom said she would take it outside to water, but it eventually became too heavy for her to lug back and forth, so she left it outside and it decided it wanted to stay out there and just wedged itself into the ground and kept growing.
12) I was lying in bed the night after we got back to Michigan, thinking of all the dumb things one thinks about when they can’t fall asleep. I thought about (aka worried about) a variety of things including holiday card photos (which I’m usually mailing by now), my reconstruction surgery next week and not being able to walk the dog for weeks afterwards, about all the Christmas tasks that had yet to be done and OH MY GOSH. I hadn’t put together that having surgery also meant that I wouldn’t be able to do all the Christmas things. UGH.
For some reason I did not correlate recovery with Christmas decorating or shopping or wrapping/sending presents. So then of course I worried about that for a long time, too.
The next day (yesterday) I got out all the decorations and did as much as I could. Which made me feel better a little, but the reality is that I won’t get everything done that I planned on, I just won’t. Some people will get late gifts (or lame gifts) because of my bad planning but OH WELL. And at least this year I have a good excuse! hahahahaha.
I’m looking forward to a forced slow-down once again. I didn’t know how much I needed it last time. I’ll be cursing the restricted activity come January (aka holiday food, cocktails and no exercise), but I’m grateful for all the me-time I’ll have. Because what mom gets that ever, especially during the holidays.
I hope your December isn’t too nutty. I hope you’re able to enjoy family, friends, togetherness as much as possible. And man, I hope that 2022 will give us a little bit of peace on Earth – even a crack of a window of it. Wishes for a wonderful month and holiday season.