This is Christmas Eve, the third and probably the last that I will spend on Okinawa.
My first Christmas Eve on this lovely island was in 1972, just a few months after it went from American to Japanese control. I was a newly married 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army living in a duplex on the edge of Naha. I had no kids then, but my wife was pregnant with Nick who would be born on Okinawa the following July. We had a tree up and were also house-sitting for a friend's Siamese cat while he was back in the States visiting family for the holidays. The cat, of course - being a cat, loved to climb in the Christmas tree. He also liked to eat the foil icicles and then vomit them up in various places around the house. It was a little chilly, but we had our trusty kerosene heater to keep us warm.
My second Christmas Eve here was the most recent one - in 2010. I remember running up and down the island that day in shorts and a tee-shirt, so it was quite warm. The next day, on Christmas, the weather changed drastically and the long pants came out. The temperature dropped into the fifties and we were all freezing!
Today, my third Christmas Eve on Okinawa, the weather is again chilly. I did my morning running around the island in blue jeans and a tee-shirt getting the last few necessaries for tomorrow's trip to Vietnam. We head to the Naha Airport at about 8:30 a.m., fly to Taiwan at noon, and then on to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where we will arrive in the early evening.
I am traveling with my good friend, Daniel Murphy, a psychologist who works with me at Kadena. Murphy and I and a mutual friend, Kelly, all went to Korea together last year. Kelly was supposed to go with us to Vietnam, but she backed out at the last minute due to a family issue. Valerie, the friend who went to Guam with me over Thanksgiving, is on a special trip to the Philippines this holiday season. Two other friends in our group, Stephen and Stacey, are spending the holidays in Hong Kong. There is so much to see and do in the Far East!
This afternoon as a way of putting off packing, I have settled in for two good holiday movies: the original Miracle on 34th Street (which is chock full of Macy references) and the Jim Carrey version of A Christmas Carol. As soon as they are over, I will put some serious effort into packing.
My best to you all for the happiest of holidays!