A Local Kine Christmas
The front door flew open. A bag was thrown to the floor, and footsteps
quickly made their way through the house, followed by another door
“Eh, you left the door open again!” There was no answer. “These kids,
always forgetting stuff,” Kimo thought to himself. He picked up his
walking stick, lifted himself out of the recliner, and walked over to
close the front door. He then made his way down the hallway to Lani’s
“Lani,” he yelled, “you left the door open again, and you didn’t even
give Grandpa a ‘hello’ kiss.” Again, there was no reply. He yelled
louder as he neared her bedroom. “How was school? You hungry? Eh, You
listening or what?” Kimo made his way to her door and heard the muffled
sound of crying.
Kimo slowly opened the door, “What’s the matter? You okay?”
Lani’s face was buried in her pillow. She shook her head.
“Are you hurt?”
Again, she shook her head.
“Why you crying? What happened? Tell Grandpa.”
She pushed her head deeper into her pillow and wept louder. Kimo sat by
her side and rubbed his hand gently over her hair.
“Tell Grandpa why you crying.”
Lani lifted her head from her pillow a little and tried to speak, but
couldn’t find her breath. She wiped her sleeve across the stream of
tears. Kimo helped her sit up straight and held her to his side.
“Must’ve been one bad day at school,” he whispered to her.
Her head nodded.
“What happened at school? Did somebody pick on you? You let Grandpa
know, I take care you.”
The words struggled through her shortened breath. “S-S-Santa Claus isn’t
“What you mean, Santa always comes?”
“He’s not coming.”
“Who told you that? They told you that at school?”
“Was it your classmate? Your teacher?”
“My teacher said…”
“Was your teacher? Aiyah! What kind teacher went tell you that? She told
you no more one Santa?”
“She didn’t say, ‘no more Santa,’ but she told us a story and I know
Santa can’t come to our house.”
“What kind story she told you?”
“She told us how Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents, and
we no more chimney for Santa to come down.” She started crying again.
“Santa don’t need one chimney for come down. Santa just come through the
“But Miss Tanaka read us the story about how Santa comes down the
chimney and brings the presents. Only mainland houses got chimneys. How
can Santa come in the house without a chimney?”
“Lani, Santa no need one chimney to come in. He just comes through the
front door every year. He came last year and you got plenty presents.”
“Why doesn’t he just go in the front door in the mainland houses? He has
to come in the chimney.”
‘This girl is too smart for her own good,’ thought Kimo. He took a deep
breath. “But he came last year, and the year before…”
“How did he get in without a chimney, Grandpa? Why doesn’t he use the
door on the mainland?”
Kimo paused for a second and took a deep breath. “It’s because Hawaii is
different from the mainland. Santa goes through the chimneys on the
mainland, but comes through the front door in Hawaii.”
“Most of the houses in Hawaii no more chimneys, so he comes through the
“But how come, he doesn’t go through the front door on the mainland.
Isn’t that easier?”
“Everywhere else he goes through the chimney, but in Hawaii he comes
through the front door.”
“That’s how it is.”
“How do you know, Grandpa?”
“Because I saw him.”
“You saw Santa?”
"At the mall?”
“No, in my house, when I was a little boy.”
“Yes Lani,” her Grandpa smiled, “When I was about your age, I saw Santa,
and I know why he comes through the front door in Hawaii.”
“How? How did you get to see Santa?
“Sit-up, and pay close attention, an I going tell you how I met Santa in
“Before time, back in old Hawaii, before I was born, Hawaii never had
chimneys. They never even had wood houses. They lived in grass huts. You
see, that was a problem for Santa, he had to park his reindeer and walk
from house to house.”
“How come Grandpa?”
“For one thing, the Sleigh would fall through most of the roofs, and for
another thing, the deer would eat the grass from the houses. Santa had
to fly to the island, park his reindeer, and then he and his menehune
(Hawaiian Elves) would walk from house to house and deliver presents.
Year after year, Santa went park his sleigh and go from house to house
to deliver presents.”
“Is that when you saw Santa, Grandpa”
“Grandpa’s not that old. Grandpa didn’t live in a grass shack. I lived
in a house just like this one, except for one thing – we had one
“We did. In fact when Grandpa was young like you, all the houses had
chimneys. We had chimneys so Santa could come down and give presents
just like on the mainland. You see, Santa was older by then, and a
little more chubby, so he couldn’t walk from house to house like before.
When we started to have wooden and brick houses in Hawaii, we all put up
chimneys so Santa could fly his sleigh from house to house.”
“How come we don’t have chimneys now?”
“If you hush up, I’ll finish the story. You ready to hear the rest and
how I met Santa?”
Lani tightened her lips shut and nodded emphatically.
“Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, we all had chimneys and Santa would come
down the chimney, eat some snacks and go from house to house this way –
just like on the mainland."
“Santa was happy to be able to use his sleigh again, but then something
happened, and that’s when I saw Santa.”
Lani’s eyes grew large and she cupped her hands over her mouth so she
wouldn’t interrupt Grandpa’s story.
“On the mainland, Santa just eats milk and cookies, and that’s okay,
because he works it all off going up and down chimneys - it’s like
Santaerobics. Anyway, local people get plenty aloha, so they never just
left milk and cookies, they left one feast. Santa went from house to
house in Hawaii and would get poke, lau-lau, lomi salmon, and poi. Going
up and down the chimneys wasn’t enough to burn off all those calories.
Each year Santa would be a little bigger and those chimneys would get a
little tighter, then one Christmas Eve, it happened. I met Santa Claus."
“It was midnight, and I was about your age. I heard some noise outside
and looked out my window. I saw police cars, and the fire truck parked
outside. I heard something beating on the roof, and I heard all these
voices in the living room. I walked into the living room and saw all
these adults standing around the fireplace. They never see me, and I
went sneak in to see what they was looking at, and then I saw it – red
pants and black shoes dangling from one set of legs in the fireplace.
The legs was kicking around. I grabbed on my Dads leg, ‘is that Santa?’”
“Eh, get back in your room,” my Dad said.
“But Dad it’s Santa, and he’s stuck.” I looked around and all the
adults, the policeman, the fireman, a bunch of other people, and even
the Governor of Hawaii were there.
My Mom grabbed my hand and knelt down to talk to me. “Kimo, it is Santa.
He had a little too much to eat. He ate the whole banana-poi bread loaf
and now he’s stuck.”
“Wow, Santa Claus is at my house. I gotta tell everybody!”
“Kimo,” my mother said, “You can’t tell anybody about this. Santa
doesn’t want the keiki (children) to be waiting up late for him. That’s
why he tries not to be seen.”
Then I heard my Dad tell the fireman, “You can’t break our fireplace to
get him out. You might hurt Santa, and you going leave one big puka
(hole) in our roof.”
The adults were arguing how to get Santa out. Pull him, push him, break
the chimney, break the house, anything. “Come on everybody, think hard,”
I yelled. “If we don’t get Santa out, Hawaii’s keikis going miss
One of the adult’s shouted, “What if we put him on a diet, and wait for
him to lose weight and slide out?"
“It’s going take too long,” I replied, “but at least you thinking. Can’t
we put something slippery around him, and then slide Santa out.”
“Honey, go get some oil from the kitchen,” said my Dad to my Mom.
Mom didn’t have any oil left, and back then nevah have 24 hour stores
like Safeway and Seven-Eleven, so we had to think of something else.
“Mom, what about the extra bananas that you had from baking?”
“Good idea,” said one of the policemen.
Mom brought out the bananas and everybody smashed ‘em into goo. The
firemen climbed up the chimney, and poured it down the sides around
Santa. They hooked up a rope to Santa’s sleigh and head Santa hold on
tight. We all stood outside in the yard as we watched those eight
reindeer, that’ right, only eight ‘cuz was before Rudolph’s time, pull
on the rope and hemo Santa from the chimney. Pop! Santa came out of the
chimney. The reindeer rushed all around him and licked the bananas from
his clothes. I don’t know if he was happy to be out, or just ticklish,
but let me tell you, when he when laugh, his opu (stomach) when shake
just like one bowl-full of jelly.
“Where is the little boy who had the idea to get me out,” asked Santa.
“Was me,” I shouted.”
“How you know my name,” I asked.
“I know all the the names of the good little boys and girls. It’s on my
“I want to thank you, Kimo, for helping save Christmas this year.”
The Governor then made the announcement; “From this day forth the people
of Hawaii will not put out any goodies for Santa on Christmas Eve. That
way, Santa will not get stuck in any more chimneys.”
“Excuse me Governor,” it was Santa speaking, “I look forward to coming
to Hawaii every year and eating such wonderful food, the haupia, the
kalua pig, the fish and poi, I’m a big boy… and I like to eat. Coming to
Hawaii is treat for me. You can’t take the goodies away.”
“Umm... well then,” the Governor bellowed, “from this day forth the
people of Hawaii will have no chimneys unless they are big enough for
Santa to fit through. Santa will walk through the door like before.”
Santa then said his good-byes and patted me on the head. “Kimo,” he
said, “Thank you again, but if you can do me one more favor…”
“Don’t forget to leave some more banana-poi bread for me next year.”
“I told you was the bread,” whispered my Mom.
“I won’t forget, Santa.”
Santa then hopped into is sleigh. “On Dasher, on Dancer, on Donner, on
Vixen, on Comet, on Cupid, on Prancer, on Blitzen…” Then the reindeer
started up and took off into the sky with his toys in the back.”
“That’s why Santa walks through the door in Hawaii. Not too many houses
get chimneys any more. Only big houses get enough room for one big
chimney for Santa to fit through. Santa told me that I this was our
secret, but I think he’d understand why I told you. So Lani, now you
know how come Santa come through the door in Hawaii?”
“Yes Grandpa,” she beamed back at him.
“And you can not tell anybody they story about Grandpa and Santa,” Kimo
“What story? Do you know anything about Santa?” Lani smiled so big and
the tears were all gone. She winked at her Grandpa.
“I don’t know anything about Santa,” said Kimo as he winked back.
“Can we make some banana-poi bread today?”
“Of course we can Lani.”