Hooray, Christmas Season’s Here!

What just happened? How are we in December already? Christmas is in three weeks?

Oh, no, I’m not ready!

All right, now that I’ve got the freak-out out of the way, it’s time to get to work. So much to do, so little time. I spent the Thanksgiving week visiting my son in West Virginia when normally I’d be pulling out the Christmas decorations and dragging my husband around in the hunt for the perfect tree.

So now I’m smushing all the decorating into a couple of days this week. After all, can’t short-change my favorite holiday. The house has to look festive, smell like a pine forest, feel like a cozy sanctuary and light up like a glowy, candlelit wonderland. It’s a big job, but somebody’s got to do it. I’m just happy it’s me.

This year I’ve decided to address a hard truth about our situation. And here I mean the collective “our” – meaning all of us who live in our isolated island state.

The economy is tough. Everyone’s cutting back or being very careful with their money. A lot of families are hurting. It’s a reality of our times.

So here’s what we’re doing. We’re giving more. Not a lot more, but more. We want to make sure our adopted charities and non-profits survive and continue to do their good works. They can’t do it without us.

Of course, we’ll still give gifts to our closest friends and family members. In years past I’ve gone the easy route and ordered a lot of stuff online. Why not? It’s no-fuss shopping without stepping out of your house and, hey, it’s fun and convenient. But it doesn’t really do much for our local economy.

So this year I’m pledging to shop at home.

Remember the days before the Internet, when we actually made Christmas shopping a family affair? It was a big deal to pile everyone in the car and head to the mall. We loved the music and the sparkle of the decorations, the lights downtown and even – yes – the crowds. It felt like a party. It was fun and special.

There’s no reason we can’t get back a bit of the magic of the season. Sure, a lot of the festivities are forced and overhyped, even desperate, as retailers struggle to grab every dollar they can. It’s easy enough to sneer and say, “Enough.”

But you know, you can control the stress. All you have to do is remember why you want to honor people by giving them a gift. You have to whittle down the list. You have to think deeply about what each special person would like. You have to select a gift that matters, not one that will impress.

I find that if you do all of the above, shopping will be fun again.

We have so many wonderful merchants, artisans and vendors right here at home, it makes sense to support them. It’s right to give them our dollars. It’s a kind of “pay it forward” mentality that has both immediate benefits and long-lasting impact for our state.

I can’t wait for Christmas, despite that this year I don’t feel ready for it. It’s such a joy to share aloha with the people you love.

So, Christmas? Bring it on.