A Maui Thanksgiving

We arrived on Maui with cool breezes blowing through the baggage claim area, excited, caffeinated tourists scurried around rushing to get to the beaches, happy to be out of the raging snow storms and freezing cold.I guess I would be just as happy to be in warm, sunny Maui than maybe Bismark, North Dakota. “Was I happy to be off of Oahu and on the island of Maui?”

It wasn’t like I had to battle through sleet and rain to get to the airport or fight through some other horrid weather experience. I went from sun to sun, beach to beach, Hawaii to Hawaii. Could you call this a valid vacation? Snow would have been a welcomed change, but on second thought, maybe not. I lived in Massachusetts for four years and digging the car out of snow got a little tiring, especially when it happened everyday for four to five months. That’s too long! I disliked living in an area where what you wore or did not wear could spell life or death. That’s insane for a Hawaiian to even contemplate.

For instance, you could run around naked all year round in Honolulu and never see the specter of death wielding his scythe. You may see a police officer flipping his badge or a mental institute worker unraveling a straight-jacket, but not death by ice or snow. The weather will not kill you in Hawaii, maybe a tiger shark or a lava flow (if you were stupid) or a fifty foot tsunami, but not the sun, wind, or rain.

I grabbed a hot chai from Starbucks and waited for my mother-in-law, father-in-law, and Jan’s uncle Tim to arrive at the airport. My wife and daughter explored the tourist brochure rack as I sipped on my hot drink and watched The Last Samurai on my i-pad. Why was I watching this movie? I do not know. I guess I like cheesy, western, white protagonist samurai movies. “Akira Kurosawa, why did you have to die?”

I felt the difference right away. Maui was unique,something special, no more Oahu stress and clamor. Jan’s Uncle graciously opened up his Kula home to his eccentric and rambunctious family members from Hawaii Kai, complete with energetic, screaming niece. The breeze blowing in from the mountains refreshed my soul. This was truly the beginning of a great Thanksgiving vacation. My heart danced.

My in-laws finally caught up and uncle Tim rented a car and we drove up to Kula. Before we reached the cool sanctuary of up country Maui, we dove into the piranha infested waters of shoppers trying to get their last minute scrounging done before the stores closed on everybody’s drumstick dreams. We fanned out like SEAL Team 6, each with our own instructions, our own objectives, our own yams; oops, I mean plans. One commando went rogue (my eighty year old father-in-law) and decided to buy natto (fermented Japanese beans), but I helped him to stay on task for the ultimate goal of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We would sacrifice all for The Bird.

All the objectives were accomplished except for one thing: American parsley. The Kahului Safeway ran out. Can you imagine a store running out of parsley? We drove up the hill and found the quintessential ‘umamis of all umamis’ for stuffing at the Pukalani Foodland. Yes, that bushy green branch you usually throw away on your entree is vital for authentic Thanksgiving stuffing. I found the last one nestled in the back of the rack. I snatched it up like the Holy Grail and finished my pilgrimage at the cashier. We were now in business. Thanksgiving preparation complete.

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