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I've got lots and lots of fond memories growing up in Hawaii . Now living on the mainland, looking back it seemed like endless summer days. This was always good because the weather can be pretty brutal during the winters. I remember eating shaved ice at Matsumoto's in Haleiwa with the ono ice cream in the bottom, having picnics with my family at Magic Island with my grandma's musubis and my Mom making barbeque meat, having Sunday dinners with my grandparents in Kaimuki. But, the memories of having New Year's at my fraternal grandparent's home on the Big Island is always ones that I love to share with my husband and my kids.

I remember when I was little going with my Mom, Dad and little sister to the Big Island to spend about a week there. We were always excited to go! It was always a big party with us spending lots of time with our cousins, aunties and uncles. Plus, we just loved spending time with our grandparents.

I don't know how many of you grew up on the Big Island . But, my grandpa and grandma ran a small family owned store/gas station It's since been knocked down and my grandfather has been gone for about 7 years now, but I remember so much about spending summers there and New Years.

What was so special about these New Year's? Well, I distinctly remembering that on New Year's Eve waking up early to watch my grandpa and my uncles haul in a huge pig for the imu. It was always fascinating as a young child, seeing them bring this pig on a forklift and wrap it up in chicken wire with lava rocks, then put in the ground for cooking.

I would always make funny faces when they would uncover it when it was time to shred it to make kalua pig. It stank! But, it was always amazing to see all the steam coming up from this huge mound of dirt and then wow! Ono kalua pig. Of course there was plenty of food to eat. Potato salad, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, laulau, sashimi. Then talking story with all my cousins and other relatives.

But, the best times was going to Kawaihae harbor and going fishing with my cousin, little sister and grandpa. Either from the pier, or in a little boat. With our bamboo fishing poles, and frozen shrimp for bait, or finding baby fish to scoop up with our scoop net. I remember catching all kinds of fish, some we could eat, or we'd take the small ones and just watch them swimming in circles in the bucket. I even remembered one time, I was standing too close to my cousin when he cast out, and the stupid hook got stuck in my eye lid! I thought I was going to be blind cause of my stupid cousin!

I laugh now at the stuff that my grandpa and grandma would let us do. Like he let us sneak in the store and take Icee from the machine after the store was closed. Or have ice cold soda from the coolers, or sneak candy after we brushed out teeth. My grandma used to make teri-burgers for the truck drivers that would stop by, or anyone else....those were so good. I thought they were the best teri-burgers ever. They also had a small gas station across the street from the store. My sister and I would take turns running out to help my grandpa pump the gas. We thought we were so grown up! I also remember "driving the forklift" with my grandpa! Looking at pictures now, I remember thinking I was the coolest kid on the island.

I also remember them having crown flower plants in the back yard. And my sister and I would pick off the monarch caterpillars from them put them in jars with holes in the top, and wait till they turned into wonderful butterflies. We were always amazed at how much they ate, and how quickly they changed into butterflies!

It was always so much fun playing firecrackers with my other cousins. Going swimming at the beach....and just having fun. Now it seems like a lifetime ago. Especially since my grandpa has passed. Plus, I don't get to visit home as much as I'd like. Now, that I've got a family of my own it would be nice to show them where I come from. So they can get a bit of why I love rice so much. Or why I do and say the things I do.

Sometimes living on the mainland I feel like I've lost a bit of my "Hawaiian" heart. The hustle and bustle of living here is sometimes so different. Maybe it's just my misconception of people here, but every one doesn't understand the meaning of aloha. Being nice to someone because you want to. Something as simple as letting someone on in front of you on the freeway and seeing them wave "thanks." They just don't do that here. I have friends who live on the mainland that complain about the same attitude but in a different state. It makes me sad, but also proud of where I am from. It's nice to be able to call someone Auntie or Uncle just because they are your friend, someone you consider your ohana.

About Author

I grew up on Oahu with my younger sister and parents. Currently living in MN with a wonderful husband, a stepson, and my own son.

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