Having turned each island "snack" into a meal -- and each family "meal" into a feast -- Lauren and I were happy to start Christmas Day with a short jog at the Kailua High School track. I've seen people marketing lots of exercise programs on TV, but in my mind there's nothing quite so motivating as a 75-degree Hawaii morning, with a spritz of cool rain every now and then. There's no way to stay cooped up with weather like that calling through the window! And it sure beats the icy rain we'd been trudging through in Mountain View recently.
After the jog, we had breakfast, napped, and opened presents:
Then (erm) napped, had a brief food-tasting of the dinner trays we'd brought from the local Chinese restaurant (had to be sure there was no poison), CAT-napped, and then it was time for dinner itself. Another dozen or so extended family members showed up, from Lauren's mom's side this time. We had just the right amount of Chinese food to leave everyone pleasantly stuffed. I especially liked the eggplant with noodles and pork. Maybe the sweetest and juiciest eggplant I've ever had.
After dinner, it was time for another tradition: the gift grab-bag. The rules as explained by Uncle Baron were simple, with rules #1 and #2 designed to avoid another ... incident:
- NO CRYING.
- Don't get too attached to your gift.
- A gift can only be stolen once per round.
And with that, we were off. Plotting, collusion, cutthroat maneuvering, and frequent shouts of "Don't get too attached!" All in good fun, of course.
I ended up with a gift certificate to a local shopping center where Lauren and I were planning to eat dinner anyway, and Lauren got a Dark Knight DVD. Along the way, other things passed through our hands, like $20 in Hawaii quarters and assorted dollar coins, and a large Ken Follet book with $10 tucked inside. (I suspect the $10 was the primary motivation for the 9-year-old who swiped that book from me. She gave the book back (minus cash) after all was said and done).
A fun tradition that brings folks together and keeps the gift-buying overhead reasonable in a large extended family. I also found it to be a great meditation on the fickleness of fortune and the futility of attachment to physical things. The 9-year-olds in the game weren't quite so philosophical as the gifts left their hands. But to be fair, my allowance is bigger than theirs.
All in all, it was a lovely and warm Christmas with a whole bunch of lovely people. Lauren is blessed to have such a close and friendly family, and I'm honored to share Christmas with them again this year.