Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Leif's 9th Christmas 1983 - Honolulu, Hawaii - Almost 9 years old

In the summer of 1983 we moved from Sagamihara, Japan, to Honolulu, Hawaii, were we lived in a townhouse on the outer rim of an extinct volcano at Red Hill, overlooking Pearl Harbor and Pearl City. Leif was in third grade and growing fast. You can see he is maturing a lot from the last photos.

He was always bright, but in Hawaii he was pursuing a lot of ideas, drawing, planning, constructing plastic models, and so on. He still loved his E.T. "dolls" and kept them by him while he worked. He was deeply into his GI Joe phase, as well as his continuing fascination with Star Wars and Star Trek.

Although I no longer know for sure what he got for Christmas in 1983, I can say with some certainty that it must have involved some space and or GI Joe vehicles.

It was in Hawaii that he became so focused on GI Joe that he would save up his pocket money and we would go to Long's Drug Store in Pearl City, which had a huge selection of GI Joe figures, so that he could select one. That was always a traumatic event for him, and I may have written about this before. He usually only had enough money for one, but would want 3-5, and it was just about torture for him to make a decision. As soon as he chose one, he knew he'd have to leave the others behind.

I would point out to him that if he really didn't know which one he wanted most, it really didn't matter which one he picked, he would like it. And he could save up to get another one next time. That didn't help. He would stand there nearly paralyzed with indecision until tears welled up in his eyes. I felt bad for him, coming there to get something he wanted to give him fun and pleasure, and have the choice be so momentously hard.

But at Christmas, he didn't have to worry about choices, at least not at that age. Someone else had to do that, and he could just open his gifts and have fun.

In Hawaii, we were still very far away from the rest of our family. My mother did come to visit once a year, and Peter's mother, Ellen (Oma to the kids), made it once, but those visits were rare.

Christmas in Hawaii was a new experience for us because it was hot weather. It made me realize how all our cultural expectations for Christmas (and thus those of our children) were for it to be cold . . . and wishing for snow. Thus it didn't SEEM like Christmas, despite the Christmas carols playing in the department stores and on the radio. It seemed especially silly to be hearing, "Jingle Bells," for instance, and see fake snow in the windows of Pizza Hut! We talked about how in probably half the world, it wasn't cold at Christmas time, and why weren't there songs that went with warm weather??

We took all that in stride, though, and we had fun together, enjoyed our family traditions as always, and could even look forward to heading for the beach.

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