This week, we will be packing up and heading home for the holidays. For about three and a half weeks, we will be free to binge-watch shows on Netflix and not feel guilty about not doing assignments. Some of you will be going home to a white Christmas. But for me, I will be heading back to my rock in the middle of the sea.

I’ve always loved Christmas in Hawaii. The air is brisk, the temperature drops to 70 degree, and the winter swell sets in at North Shore. But what I have always loved the most about Christmas were the traditions my family has during this season.

We don’t get to have a white Christmas. We don’t really sit down and have a formal Christmas dinner. But I would never trade what I have on the islands for anything else out there.

On Christmas Eve we go to our church’s candle light service. Our pastor gives a short passage about the birth of Jesus Christ and my mom dances for the church’s hula halau (group). To close the night, we sing classic Christmas songs, everything from Angels We Have Heard on High to Po La`i E (Silent Night in Hawaiian).

Sarina Girangaya is a sophomore at Corban.

Sarina Girangaya is a sophomore at Corban.

After church, we drive around the neighborhood to see everyone’s Christmas decorations. We eventually make it to my uncle’s neighborhood, decked out as if it were the North Pole complete with a hot chocolate station.

On Christmas morning we wake up at around 7:00 a.m. and open the presents under the tree. At around noon we make our way over the mountains to one of my aunt’s houses where we meet with my mom’s side of the family. I love being able to go swimming in my aunt’s pool or at the beach, and being surrounded by my family. We laugh and eat until the late hours of the night.

But one of my favorite parts of Christmas is when we split the family in half and make two teams: one team of women and the other team of men. We all get together and play a game called Man, Wolf, Gun; it’s kind of like Rock, Paper, Scissors, but with a team.

Man, Wolf, Gun is kind of the initiation into our family. If you can handle us being super competitive, yelling across the yard and laughing at the losing team, you are now part of the family. After the game and when we’ve sufficiently rubbed our victory in the losing team’s face, we settle down and do a gift exchange among the adults.

I love my family. We’re crazy, weird and loud, but I love it. We don’t sit down and eat dinner at a long table; we eat on couches, at counter tops, on the grass, or at fold up tables. We don’t have snow to run around in; we splash and swim in the ocean. But I think there is one thing my family and many of other families have in common, and that’s that we all come together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. No matter what denomination we are or disagreements we have, we all come together during this season to be together as a family to celebrate the gift God has given us.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mountains with snow falling around you or on the beach watching the sun set, we all gather this season to celebrate Jesus Christ. And I think that is the most important and the best part of Christmas.