Aloha and Merry Christmas to you all,

In Hawaii we like to say Mele Kalikimaka and it's seldom we hear Merry Christmas really. If you go out shopping and meet people along the way you are more likely to hear Happy Holidays and the ever popular Season's Greetings but for some reason too few of us these days still cling to the traditional Merry Christmas greeting.

In American life so many of our best memories are linked to Christmas. Christmas memories are directly linked to specific points in time and in this case "A Time" or "The Times" of our life.

On Christmas Day in 1960 I and the other children of St. Mary's Orphanage were being ushered to the chapel for Christmas Mass. It was not quite dawn and we could see the long line of candles being carried by the Sisters as they left the convent some distance away. In the early morning air we could hear them singing as they moved through the darkness to the chapel. I am not sure if they were singing in French or Latin and have always wondered why I could not remember which. We were all in our places as the Sisters began to enter the chapel. They entered in pairs and softly blew out their candles and moved down the center aisle to take their places. As the dawn light began to brighten the stained glass windows the mass was begun I remember being so relieved to be able to finally sit down, we had been standing for such a long time.

The mass ended and we were then ushered out and down a walkway to our dinning hall for breakfast. I knew something was up when I saw tablecloths on the long wooden tables where we normally ate our meals. The Sisters began to bring platters of food to the tables and there were several servants employed at the orphanage that were hastily placing dishes and silverware in front of us. I was confused because it was the first time where we were allowed to serve ourselves. Normally we either had a metal tray with little indents where food could be placed or in the case of breakfast a carton of milk and a little box of cereal. You would use the end of the spoon to open the little perforated lines on the box and then pour in the milk. This was certainly a day of days in my life at 7 years old.

As the day went on it seemed there was something special constantly happening. Visitors from the New Orleans Cathedral and Novices and Sisters seemed to be everywhere. On that day I would attend mass three times, eat the most amazing food, and probably the more startling shock to my sensibilities was that literally more adults than I could count would stop me, make eye contact with me, and in a clear voice say Merry Christmas.

When I think about what Merry Christmas means to me I cannot forget that while I think of what the day is and whom we honor on this day, I cannot but remember myself in my time as well along the Christmas's of my life. Merry Christmas is so much more appropriate for this time because it means so much more than the hollowness of Happy Holidays or seasons Greetings. The Holiday is Christmas and the Season is Winter.

Merry Christmas