True to its Northwest predilection, the end of fall gave us torrents of rain. The first weekend of December had so much rain that floods, sinkholes, and landslides swept into neighborhoods that are normally impervious to our soggy climate.
Our own little private road was not immune. I left the house for an hour one afternoon, and when I returned, I nearly ran into this:
You can only imagine how ready we were to fly far away from here two days later for our Dryden Family Hawaii Vacation (2nd edition).
Two senior Drydens, four middle generation Drydens, and four grandkids landed on the lovely, laid-back island, loaded into rental cars and drove north along the eastern coast of Oahu, back to the same adored house in Laie we stayed in last year.
A year of regular life had blurred some of the memories, but the next morning I woke to December warmth, the sound of rustling palm trees, roosters, and clicking geckos, and the view of waves skimming the shore behind the house. The Hallelujah Chorus exploded in my brain, and John got the happy greeting of a giddy, grateful wife every morning thereafter (even before my first cup of coffee).
This year our days together were even more carefree and enjoyable. We knew what we liked on the island, and we were comfortable in our routines and workings of the family dynamics, the house, and the community.
There was very little agenda, few decisions to be made, and the ones to make were simple: Shall we sit on these chairs to read, sip, and talk, or shall we sit on the sand? Should we drive up to Matsumoto’s for shave ice or try the shave ice close by? Piece together a puzzle or read a book?
We brought our Christmas spirit with us because admittedly, it is hard to remember that Christmas is just days away when surrounded by sun, sand, and surf boards. Each night we circled up to read a story from Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, a family advent book. Away from the hustle of Christmas preparations and retail reminders of stocking stuffers, Santa songs, and stressed-out shoppers, the stories following the branches of Jesus’s family tree (the Jesse Tree), leading to his birth in Bethlehem let every heart prepare Him room.
One evening, early in the trip, Uncle Andy mentioned that it would be fun to have a little game we could play during mealtimes when we gathered round the table. The suggestion surprised me, since Drydens never have any problem filling conversational space with scintillating topics such as the careful selection of bumpers for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, gear ratios and variable velocities of Hawaiian windmills, and the history of concrete.
I wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass, so I suggested we make up “hink pinks”: two words that rhyme that others guess given a descriptive definition (thank you, Stevens and Beaudry clans). For example,
Q: What is “a peaceful tropical tree”?
A: a “calm palm”
Hinky pinkies are two-syllable rhyming words, and hinkity pinkities are 3-syllable words. The family approved and the clues and rhymes dominated dinner table chatter (not to mention car rides and sand lounging) for the rest of the trip.
(My favorite hinkity pinkity, crafted by my son: Q. “What is a wiggly dead man?” A. “a gelatin skeleton”)
On our last full day on Oahu, we split up, some returning to an amazing snorkling location an hour’s drive away, and the rest of us taking a short drive to the most beautiful little bay and swimming spot on the island. Watching the children splash, dig holes, and create pirate adventures while I squished my toes in the sand next to my husband, dipping into the water now and then, I knew I was unwrapping a good, good gift. A sabbath spot of pure rest and beauty handed to me by a kind Father and artistic Creator.
The next day, we left our beloved Laie paradise and split up again. While the rest of the family flew home, John, the kids and I continued our Hawaii vacation and flew on to the Big Island, a destination most anticipated by my geologist husband and volcano-loving son.
We rented a little cottage on the green, wet and lava-strewn side of the island, which was just fine after a week of sun and beaches on Oahu. The backyard of our rental had a natural geothermal-heated pool, and just steps away, tide pools swarmed with colorful fish.
We ventured out each day trying to capture the many unique sites of the Big Island. We explored Hawaii Volcano National Park, black and green sand beaches, Mauna Kea observatories, the southernmost point of the United States, and so much lava.
Dreams came true for our rock and space-loving family during these five days.
A friend asked me when I got home, “What has God been teaching you lately?” My usual inclination is to consider how God has been challenging me through his Word, or shaping me through something difficult. But all I could think about were those 12 days in Hawaii. I felt as though I had been plucked from my regular life with all its cares and demands, deposited on an island with no escape, and was given the gift of delight.
Here: Delight in this warmth, this beauty, this man, these children. And I did. When forced to stop and rest and delight, my heart naturally responded in worship to the Giver and Creator of these gifts.
The New Year grabs hold, and activities and responsibilities crank to life again. Dark, winter days with cold fingers and dripping jackets will linger for months yet. But I will close this year with a final “hinkity pinkity”. I will not forget the fading of 2015 with its sabbath rest and delights. I will Remember December.