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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:13 p.m., Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Holiday spirit moves last-minute shoppers

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Warren Leong had good reason to grin. He had beat the Christmas Eve demon one more time and with 14 hours to spare.
Warren Leong heads out of Kahala Mall today laden with gifts for his wife. Leong, from Hawai‘i Kai, said he enjoys shopping the day before Christmas.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Holding a bulging shopping bag in each hand today in Kahala Mall, Leong was the epitomy of holiday optimism.

He got the Christmas spirit in the St. Nick of time.

"Just today I got the Christmas spirit, so I felt like buying," said Leong, a 59-year-old engineer from Hawai'i Kai. "I always wait for Christmas Eve. Men are like that."

We promised not to tell what was in the Radio Shack bags Leong was holding, but his wife is going to love 'em. At least Leong thinks she will. These were gifts that spoke to him.

"I couldn't think of anything to buy until I walked into the store," he said.

Good luck, Warren. Merry Christmas.

Like Vegas gamblers letting it all ride one more time, like-minded shoppers tested their luck on the last day before The Big Day.

Over at the gift-wrapping table, Tim Los Banos was a paper-folding, ribbon-tying fiend. In his first 30 minutes on the job today, he had wrapped seven gifts.

Six other helpers, all volunteers who do this as a fund-raiser, were doing the same thing.

"It comes in flurries," he said. "All of a sudden, they attack us."

Los Banos, a 42-year-old English teacher from Saint Louis Schools, said he managed to do his shopping before the quick and easy way before he started wrapping today.

"Gift certificates," he said. "We're the type who say 'We'll get you a New Year's gift.'"

He smiled one of those nervous, optimistic smiles.

"In Hawai'i, it can work," he said.

We hope so, Tim. Happy New Year.

Alison Hunter packaged her own gifts. In the mall parking lot in her car with the air-conditioning turned on.

Alison Hunter of Hawai‘i Kai today puts the finishing touches on her final Christmas gifts while sitting in her air-conditioned car in the parking lot of the Kahala Mall. She’d been too busy to buys gifts before today.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I had a couple of people, mostly people from work, I had to get stuff for," said Hunter, a 26-year-old Hawai'i Kai resident, sticking labels onto gifts.

She had been too busy to get all her shopping done until the last day. Of course, she wasn't alone.

"It's actually not that bad," Hunter said. "I think there are a lot of people getting those last minute gifts. This is it."

Congratulations, Alison. You made it.

Not everyone was at a mall, however. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Vernon Young and his two children were thinking of something with four legs and a tail.

They stood outside the line of adoptable dogs at the Hawaiian Humane Society, their hearts aching with Christmas cheer as they stared at two puppies.

Young's father-in-law had lost his dog, Sammie II, about a month ago.

"We went to a Christmas party on Saturday and my auntie's dog was running around," Young said. "He was looking at it and I could tell he was thinking about it."

The puppies, coiled around each other as only puppies can, looked up at Young.

"He always had a dog," Young said. "He really cares for the dogs. They make good companions."

Who could argue with that, Vernon. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.