There's plenty of time to get to town and wrap up gift acquisitions and distribution. It's a personal tradition. Wait until Christmas Eve when the holiday is in full swing. I'm feeling on top of my game.
Two gifts were delivered earlier in the day during a run that went from Kula to Haiku. That's another Christmas Eve tradition. It took longer than planned. Can't give and run. Spend an hour or so talking story with each friend.
The best part of Christmas is dreaming up gifts tailored for individuals. Unlike most years, it was done this year well in advance. One more to distribute and one more gift to buy.
Oops. Five miles from home, remember the gift for a friend in Kahului. Had to order it and it didn't arrive until this afternoon. Burn a half-hour backtracking, picking up the gift and heading to town.
Still . . . just nip into a couple of stores. One essential gift and one that qualifies as a stocking stuffer even though she's well past accommodating Santa Claus. Slap the plastic down and off to the friend. Mission accomplished.
Allow a certain glow of anticipated accomplishment. Traffic is all headed the other way. The sun is perched on the horizon. Hit town. Hmmm. Bunch of stores are dark. Essential destination closed. Stocking-stuffer store closed. There's a store hours sign on the door. "Closed at 6 p.m., Christmas Eve."
Even most of the fast-food joints and gas stations are dark. There's a creeping realization the trip to town was begun an hour too late. It appears most employees in town have been allowed to enjoy Christmas Eve with their families. That's great. The bosses deserve a pat on the back even it will force an embarrassing need for a Christmas Day e kala mai and substituting an explanatory card, a description of the gift and a promise to deliver later.
Procrastination strikes again!
There's was a time on Maui when procrastination was a daily problem. Stores closed on Sundays and holidays and usually at 6 p.m. or so every day. You had to hit the banks on working days before 3 p.m. No ATMs. All of that required some planning, especially if you lived Upcountry.
Sitting at Dairy Road around 5 p.m., waiting for the light, it was routine to run a list through your mind. Got enough gasoline? Got enough cigarettes and favorite beverages? Mom-and-pop stores and stations Upcountry usually closed early. Forget something in town meant going without until tomorrow.
There was a Christmas Day when no one in the house felt like cooking. We headed out to find a restaurant. Patronizing one after another of favorite eateries was an exercise in futility. Even late-night spots such as Gate 21 at the airport and Aunt Becky's in Kihei were closed that day. A last resort would be hitting a hotel where they had to feed the tourists. Nah. OK. Drive down Lower Main Street in Wailuku.
Hunger and self-reliance were deferred finally by one open eatery. There was no time like that Christmas Day to try an unfamiliar Chinese restaurant. Food wasn't bad, if far from traditional holiday fare.
When the Minit Stop and McDonald's replaced an old-time grocery in Pukalani, it seemed an eyesore. I swore never to patronize the places. Well, in a about a year, the convenience store and fast-food emporium were just another part of the landscape. They were, in a word, convenient. Have you noticed the fast-food stores now have drive-through service all night? And, there's at least one Kahului restaurant where the door is never locked.
The stand-alone convenience stores close at 11 p.m., but there are still the mini-stores at all-night filling stations where nonessential stuff can be purchased - candy, salty snacks, cigarettes, soda and beer. Run out during the dark, no sweat. There's a sack, pack, can or a bottle waiting in the middle of gas pumps ready to fill a tank.
It's one of the dichotomies about life on the island. Old-timers - and a bunch of later arrivals - might decry changes such as all-night supermarkets, restaurants and filling stations. At the same time, we've all become accustomed to Mainland-styled convenience and no need to plan a day in detail.
Of course, it's still essential to do a little time management so you can avoid Christmas Day embarrassment. But there's always the 24-hour places where at least something can be purchased. Loved ones will feign delight, no matter what.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.