Holiday Traditions, Mystic Princesses Style

“PJ, we miss our families,” Breanna said. “It’s the holidays and we’d like to be with them, but they are so far away.”

PJ smiled because she knew a secret that she wasn’t sharing with the girls and said, “When I miss my family, I think of the things we did on holidays. It makes me feel like I’m back at home, even for just a few minutes. For instance, I always went to Christmas Eve services with my parents. It was beautiful, because at the end of the service, the lights were dimmed and everyone would light their candles one at a time. Once they were all lit, the church glowed softly. Our breath caused the flames to slowly flicker as we sang Silent Night. After we finished singing, we’d blow out our candles and quietly leave the church.  When we returned home, my brothers and I would beg to open a present. And our parents always let us open one small gift. But we had to wait until Christmas morning to open the rest. After that we’d watch the Macy’s Day Parade while mom prepared a the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie for dessert. Later in the day dad watched football while we played with our new toys.”

“That sounds wonderful PJ,” Breanna replied. “I like that idea. If I tell you about Christmas in Hawaii, maybe I’ll feel like my mom is here. It is warm in Hawaii, so people go surfing. Santa wears a Hawaiian shirt or swimming trunks, not the red suit like you see here.  He doesn’t have a sleigh or reindeer, either.  Dolphins pull him in an outrigger canoe. And our food is different, too. We roast a whole pig in a pit in the ground. Our wreaths are decorated with tropical flowers or shells. We sometimes decorate palm trees instead of Christmas trees. And on the Big Island, where I live, we can snowboard on Mauna Kea or go paddle boarding in the surf. But what will we do while we are in New Orleans, Catie?”

“Well, when the first settlers came to New Orleans, the children were afraid that Papa Noel, now known as Santa, wouldn’t be able to find them. So they made huge bonfires to guide him, which we still do, even now. He delivers toys by Pirogue (pea-row)  which is pulled by eight alligators. And we have Christmas carols in Jackson Square. A traditional Cajun Christmas celebration includes BBQ Shrimp, crab claws and cornbread casserole. How about you, Janna? What do you do in Yellowstone for Christmas?”

“We actually get to celebrate Christmas twice a year,” Janna replied laughing at the other girls’ looks of surprise. “Before people were able to get around in the snow, the people of Yellowstone decided to celebrate in August instead of waiting until December. No one knows when it started, but it’s a lot of fun. Decorations, Christmas trees, lights and music are everywhere. The park’s visitors are excited because they don’t expect Christmas in August.”

“Oh, what a wonderful surprise!” Harmonie said. “In New York, we always went to see the Rockettes dance at Radio City Music Hall, ice skating and the Christmas tree lighting at the Rockefeller Center. Our food was like PJ’s, but there’s nothing like the magic of Christmas when New York City has a fresh white blanket of snow sparkling in the sunlight and the cold is making your cheeks turn red.”

“Since we are both from Hawaii, my Christmas Day’s were a lot like Breanna’s,” Coral added. “But I noticed a theme amongst all of our celebrations. Being with your family is important, and we are all lucky that we have the freedom to celebrate in whatever manner we wish and to worship however we wish. We are also lucky that we are allowed to express ourselves freely with our beliefs.”

“You summed that up nicely Coral,” PJ said. “We are blessed that the United States was founded on freedom of religion as one of its principles.”

Just then, the doorbell rang. Breanna cried out, “Mom!” when opened the door and saw Pele, all her friends’ parents, and Harmonie’s brother, Eros, holding gifts for the girls. The gifts were quickly set aside as hugs were much more important. PJ’s last surprise was to set the table with food from each of the girls’ hometowns so they could feel like they were home for the holidays.

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