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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thankful for Maui's unique holiday traditions

By Liz Smith

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

In Maui, Santa doffs that heavy red suit for an aloha shirt and shorts.

LIZ SMITH | The Honolulu Advertiser

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After spending numerous winters on Maui, there are a few activities and traditions which I might take for granted. While looking back at photos from the holiday season, I'm reminded of just how lucky we are to live in Hawai'i. Here's a quick rundown of my favorite Maui holiday traditions.

1. Thanksgiving — On this island, where many people are far from their families, this idea of hanai family creates many a holiday tradition. This year, we had 16 people at our house for dinner, only one of whom was a blood-relation. And the turkey came out of an imu.

2. Photos with Santa at the Mall — Where else can your kids sit on the lap of a guy with a fluffy white beard wearing a red baseball cap, green aloha shirt and khaki shorts?

3. Christmas Eve — We were lucky enough to be invited to one of these hδnai family parties, which had grown over the past two decades to a catered affair with close to 100 of the host family's closest friends and neighbors. On the beach, under the stars.

4. Christmas Day — There seems to be a rule that Christmas Day on Maui must be one of the nicest beach days of the year. Families gather at their favorite beach to spend the day unwinding from the morning spent opening presents.

5. New Year's Eve — Fireworks are a key part of this holiday anywhere in Hawai'i, but the highlight this year for us was camping out under the full moon.

Besides the magic of spending these special days on Maui, almost any day can become magical with perfect waves, islandwide rainbows, or the sighting of a breaching humpback whale.

Here's to hoping you had a magical holiday season — and have a happy new year!