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Santa returns and a reader responds

By Staff | Jan 1, 2015

Santa (on vacation here again) hopes to see 180-degree rainbows like this one captured by a visitor photographing her three daughters.

LAHAINA – If you happen to get to the beach this New Year’s weekend, and especially if you have keiki, you may see a white-bearded older gentleman whose middle shakes like a bowl full of jelly dipping his feet into the ocean. Give the guy a break. After a tough week, Santa is on vacation once again in our very own Maui.

Curious, we asked Kapono Gecko, the columnist’s assistant, to research when Santa began coming here.

It turns out it was 189 years ago. For centuries, Santa flew over our tiny islands until one year when he saw sailing ships arriving. He urged his reindeers down and found that houses were being built by missionaries, much like the ones he serviced in New England.

Before that, Hawaiian keiki did not need gifts, because their daily gift was the land, ocean and the abundant fruit they could gather everywhere. Santa figured this was an easy end to his Dec. 25 tour, because there were not many missionary keiki to provide for.

But over the years, a funny thing happened. Many, many people came from many different lands to work on the plantations. And later, big jets that competed with the reindeer for landing clearances disgorged tons and tons of kids – a lot from California, quite a few from Seattle and from everywhere, especially at this time of year.

Santa’s sleigh has gotten heavier and heavier with gifts every year, and he had to bring in new crews of reindeer, because the original ones were tired.

Like many visitors, Santa was enchanted with Maui – Kaanapali Beach in particular. So after Christmas, he thought it would be a mighty fine place for a vacation, just as so many of his customers from the Mainland did.

This is where you come in. Don’t be tempted to go up to Santa and wish him Mele Kalikimaka, Feliz Navidad or anything else. Let Santa enjoy his vacation.

COLUMNIST’S OHANA: Many thanks to readers who were touched by the recent column “A family secret for the ohana,” about our son’s seven lost years as a bipolar alcoholic. We are blessed this Christmas season to see that he is our comeback kid, working, writing and now his old self again.

“You are NOT alone (on Maui),” a reader wrote in an eloquent e-mail. “If you’d ever like to share, I’m willing to as well. Bipolarism and its companion, schizophrenia, (produces individuals who) love to cuddle up to drugs, alcohol and other methods of cohabitation all in the interest of self-medication.

“I can’t help your son; only he and a professional can do that. But what I have found (and you will, too) is that now that you have opened up… everyone you know who has been touched by the same situation or something similar will open to you as well. We are a HUGE, often silent, community. And for those of us who have watched our loved ones self-destruct as a result feel intensely for each other.”

Columnist’s Notebook: Happy New Year!