Trixie Frayne looked up from the recipe book she was studying at her kitchen table as her 15-year-old daughter stomped in from the back porch.  Before Trixie could make a comment about the snow dripping off her boots and onto the freshly mopped floor, Lauren slapped a package of Sharpie markers on the counter.  Trixie raised an eyebrow.  “What’s that?”

Lauren grimaced.  “The kids are going to be upset when they get home.  Emilee and Jeremy’s mom died.”  With that statement, she swept out of the kitchen and up the back stairs, slamming her bedroom door behind her.

Trixie closed her eyes and placed her face in her hands.  The woman in question, Liz, had been a friend of hers for many years.  She’d been battling cancer for a number of years, and had been losing the battle for the last few months, so her death was not a surprise.  When Hospice had been called in a couple of weeks earlier, Trixie had known the end was near.  Still, the knowledge that her friend was gone hurt.  She couldn’t stop the wave of tears that followed.

Jim Frayne stood in the doorway to his den and watched his wife.  He knew she would want a few moments alone, just as she had every time in the last few years she had had to help her children understand why someone they knew was gone from their lives.  Jim had had his own personal hatred of cancer since childhood, but lately his wife’s opinion of the dread disease rivaled his own.

When he believed he had given her enough time, Jim grabbed the nearest box of tissues and brought them to Trixie.  She turned and gave him a watery smile of thanks when she took one and wiped her face.  Jim pulled her to her feet and gave her a hug.  She leaned into him for a moment, remembering to be grateful for him and his good health.  After a moment of drawing strength from his loving arms around her, Trixie leaned up to give him a quick kiss.

“Would you mind changing our plans for this evening?” she asked apologetically.

“Of course not!”  Jim said.  “Would you like me to take the older kids to Wimpy’s for dinner?”

“Perfect,” she nodded.  “Thanks.”

The sound of car doors slamming alerted them to the arrival of their other three children.  Seventeen-year-old Martina herded her younger siblings, eight-year-old Bronson and nine-year-old Ruth, through the door in uncharacteristic silence.  Martina’s expression was somber, and her eyes were red-rimmed.  The younger children had tear-streaked faces; as soon as they saw their mother, they threw themselves into her arms.

Jim wrapped his arms around all three of them and placed a kiss on each child’s head.  He stood and turned, looking to offer a hug to Martina, only to find she had already left the room.  He would see to her later; tonight he would tend to the older girls in order to help his wife comfort their younger children.

He wasn’t sure exactly what that meant; he only knew that Trixie had some special magic.  In the last two years, Lauren and Martina had both had good friends whose mothers had died of breast cancer.  In each case, Trixie had spent a special evening with the child in question.  Jim didn’t know what she’d done or said, but that special time had helped the girls with their own sorrow, enabling them to better support their grieving friends.





After a quiet dinner of French toast and hot chocolate, Trixie took Bronson and Ruth into their family room.  It was the first week of December, and the Fraynes had spent the previous weekend putting up their holiday decorations.  Although the tree would come later, the windows were rimmed in twinkling lights and there were holiday-scented candles throughout the room.  She clicked on the stereo, preprogrammed with soft instrumental renditions of Christmas classics.  The ambience was warm and comforting, and Trixie hoped it would help to comfort her children.

She sat on the sofa, and the two kids climbed up and snuggled in on each side of her.  After a few moments of silent relaxation, Trixie began to talk to them about Liz.  After a while, the children asked her questions about death, life, and moving on without a mom.  Trixie answered her questions as best she could, and offered suggestions on things they could do to help their friends.

A long while later, Ruth asked her mother if her friends would always be sad.  Trixie stared into the flickering flame of a candle for a moment before answering with a question.  “Do you consider Aunt Diana to be a sad person?”

“Of course not!” Ruth exclaimed indignantly.  “She’s got one of the happiest smiles I know, and she laughs and plays with us all the time.  She’s a fun person, not a sad one!”

Trixie nodded.  “I know.  But last Christmas, when we were all having fun and Aunt Diana was laughing with you about her cats chasing the ribbons, a certain song came on the radio.  She left the room kind of quickly, and you asked me if she was okay, remember?”

Ruth nodded solemnly.  “Yes.  You told me the song on the radio had been her Mummy’s favorite Christmas carol.”

“Exactly.  Aunt Diana is a happy person, who loves everything about the life she has.  But every day she still misses her mother, and sometimes when she’s not even thinking about it, it hits her so hard it takes her breath away.  That was one of those moments.  So she went into the next room, cried for a moment, said a little prayer, and came back to have more fun with her family.”

“How did Aunt Diana’s Mummy die?” Bronson asked.

Sadly, Trixie answered, “Breast cancer.”

“It’s a terrible thing, isn’t it?” he wondered.

“All cancer is evil,” Trixie answered with an uncharacteristic viciousness that startled her children.  “Some people beat it, and they’re my heroes.  Some people fight it, by doing research and raising money, and they’re warriors in a great fight.  And some people die in the battle.  I mourn for them, I grieve with their loved ones, and I never forget.”

Trixie’s eyes were filled with tears, and her whole body trembled.  Ruth and Bronson knew their mom to be a passionate person, but it was obvious that her feelings about cancer were deeper and stronger than nearly anything she ever talked about.

Wanting to help her mother as much as her friends, Ruth asked, “How do you remember, Mama?”

A sweet, secret smile stole over Trixie’s face.  “Would you like me to teach you my secret?”

When they eagerly nodded, Trixie kissed them each on the top of their head and grabbed their hands.  “Come on, I’ll show you.”




Jim had taken the girls out to a movie after dinner, even though it was a school night.  He figured Trixie could use the extra time with the other children, and he was truly enjoying spending some time with his daughters.  It was easy to allow the busyness of life and the schedule of work, homework, practices, lessons and other routines to distract one from taking the time to enjoy the ones you love.  Thinking about how much of Jeremy and Emilee’s lives they would spend missing their mom reminded him how important it was to savor every second with his children.

When he arrived home with Martina and Lauren, they found Trixie curled up on the sofa with Bronson and Ruth, sound asleep.  In one of her rare moments of sweetness, Lauren smiled tenderly at her younger siblings.  “Ruth’s so petite I can still carry her.  How about if I take her and you take Bronson, okay, Dad?”

Jim nodded, chuckling over his tough, strong tomboy daughter.  Martina, more delicate and feminine, offered to run upstairs and turn down their blankets.  The sleeping children barely stirred as they were gently lifted, but Trixie opened sleepy eyes.  Jim told her to relax and he’d be back in a minute, and then headed off to put his kids to bed.

He found Trixie standing by the mantle when he came back, fingering a knickknack he knew had been a gift from Liz and her family.  “I can’t even imagine what Jeff is going through right now.”

“Having cancer destroy your family and leave you to raise your kids alone?” Jim muttered with bitter sarcasm.  “It’s a real party.”

Trixie turned and grabbed his face in her hands, her touch both tender and fierce.  “You’ve been on the bad side of that deal too many times already, and I can’t live without you.”  Her sapphire blue eyes were focused on his, bright with love, pain, fear, and determination.  “That can’t ever be us.  It won’t be!  God may not always appear fair, but even His most mysterious ways can’t possibly be that cruel.”

Jim wrapped his arms around his wife, his own fear and bitter memories eased aside by the incredible joy he always found in his love for her.  A whisper of a smile lightened his face.  “You’re right of course, dear.  You always are.”

Knowing his serious voice belied the twinkle in his emerald eyes, Trixie burst out laughing.  “Brat!” she admonished.  Then she pulled his lips down to hers for a lingering kiss.

By the time they managed to pull their lips apart, both were breathing heavily.  “I think we need to enjoy every moment we have together, don’t you?” Trixie panted as she unbuttoned his shirt.

“Indeed,” was all Jim could manage.





Several days later, the men of the house were outside clearing the drive and walkways.  The freshly fallen snow made the trees in the yard look like a winter wonderland, but had made the footing treacherous around their home.  Jim had directed Bronson to take the shovel to the front path, while he manned the snow blower in the long driveway.  By the time he was finished and had returned the machine to the garage, Jim was fairly well frozen, despite the sweat he had worked up under his winter wear.

Wanting to get his son inside and warmed up, he called his name.  Emerging from the garage, Jim called out again.  When he received no answer, he looked around at the well-shoveled and well-salted paths.  With a frown, he headed back toward the front of the house.

Bronson stood beside the front hedges, his chin on the handle of his shovel, staring up at the top of the house.  He seemed focused on a fixed point and deep in concentration.

Jim walked over and gently shook his shoulder.  “Is everything alright, son?”

There was a pause, as if the boy had to finish a thought before redirecting his attention toward his father.  “Yeah, Dad.  I was just saying a prayer for Jeremy and Emilee.”

Touched that his young son was thoughtful enough to take a random moment out of his day to pray for his friends, Jim swallowed the lump in his throat and smiled.  “That’s a good thing to do.  But as soon as you’ve finished we should head inside so our toes don’t freeze right off.  Okay?”

Bronson nodded and grinned.  “Hot chocolate is good for the toes, right?”

Jim laughed right out loud.  “You bet!  Now put that shovel away and I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

While the boy rushed off toward the garage to stow away his tool, Jim looked up at the front of the house.  In the front attic window, he could see the lights of what he always referred to as “Trixie’s Tree”.  The house was always well decorated for the holidays, and years ago Trixie had decided that the attic level being dark ruined the effect.  She had taken an artificial tree, strung some lights, and stuck it in the front window so that there was a pleasant holiday glow even up at the top of the house.

Jim smiled, thinking of his son’s focus.  The way the tree sparkled up so high was purposefully reminiscent of the Star of Bethlehem.  He could see how the lights catching Bronson’s eye could make him think of God and remind him to say a prayer.  Maybe’s Trixie’s Tree served a purpose that was more than decorative, after all.





Nearly two weeks had gone by since Liz’s death.  Due to the family’s preferences and circumstances, Jeff had opted not to have a viewing and funeral.  Instead, on this Saturday morning there had been a memorial service at their church, complete with tears, hugs, sorrow, and messages of joy in the Lord and peace in the afterlife.  The pastor had assured them all that Liz was no longer in pain, and the congregation had shared their memories of what a special person she had been, and why they would all miss her.  It had been painful, therapeutic, and exhausting.

Late that evening, Jim wandered around turning out lights and locking doors before bed.  He always made a point to check the tree, knowing that a real tree posed a greater fire hazard than an artificial one.  For some reason on this night, it made him think of the lights on Trixie’s Tree.

When Trixie had installed her attic tree, she had not been trying to create a need to spend time in the unfinished attic in the cold of winter.  As with the rest of her housekeeping standards, she wanted her decorating to be as effortless as possible.  To that end, the attic tree was artificial and pre-lit.  It stood on a rolling pedestal.  Trixie kept it in a corner nook the rest of the year, and rolled it over to the window the day after Thanksgiving.  She plugged it in, checked the bulbs, and walked away.  The lights were set on a timer, and went on and off as programmed.  There was a surge protector on the line, and a smoke detector nearby, just in case.  The last time Jim had honestly looked at the tree up close had been the day he’d carried it up to the attic for her, ten years earlier.

With his mind on the tree, Jim looked towards the attic door when he arrived on the second floor.  He was surprised to find it ajar and a light emanating from the stairwell.  Wondering which of his supposedly sleeping children was poking around in the attic at this hour, he crept quietly up the stairs.

When he reached the top, he kept to the shadows until he could peer around a partition toward Trixie’s Tree.  To his surprise, he saw Ruth sitting cross-legged on the floor by the tree, staring up at it, her hands folded in front of her in prayer.  The look on her face was so angelic, and yet so sad, he dared not disturb her.  Instead, he crept back down the stairs, waiting in the shadows until Ruth came down.  When she had turned off the light and shut the door tightly, the little girl tiptoed back to her own bed.  Once assured his baby girl was safe and snug, Jim went on about his own preparations for bed and pushed the incident from his mind.





There were three days left before Christmas, and Trixie was, as usual, running around like a chicken with her head cut off.  The kitchen was a chaotic mess of half-completed baking projects and towering piles of dirty mixing bowls and cooking utensils.  Her office was strewn with gift tags and wrapping paper.  The bookshelf in the hall was covered with lists.  The dining room table was buried under boxes that were half-filled with gifts, tins of cookies, or poinsettias.  Trixie was currently racing off to one store or another, picking up something needed for the current project – a special holiday basket for Liz’s family – without thinking ahead to what would be needed next.

As usual, Jim was frustrated and irritable.  Walking through the door at the end of a long day was generally a stressful experience this time of year, and today was no exception.  Stepping over and around the various piles, projects and messes steadily increased his blood pressure.  After all these years, he failed to understand how his wife ever accomplished anything.  She never wrote anything down, she never followed any logical pattern to her work, and she never did anything ahead of time.  It was all last minute rushing, trying to keep track of everything in her overworked, scattered brain, and bouncing from one project to another and back again randomly.

Shuddering at the turmoil of his home, Jim retreated up the stairs to his bedroom, hoping to find some corner free from the evidence of Trixie’s holiday pandemonium.  He should have known better.  One glance at the unmade bed littered with unfolded laundry set his jaw to clenching uncontrollably.  He dropped his briefcase and yanked off his tie.

Somehow, despite all this mayhem, Trixie would pull it all together.  She always did.  Jim would help where he could stand to help, and would keep her on track at the end.  Other than that, she would magically whip all ends of the chaos up into a lovely, happy holiday for everyone around her.  Knowing the end result had helped Jim to cope, causing him to mellow over time with regard to her whirlwind.  However, there were still days when it grated against his last nerve – and today was one of them.  He refused to even consider that he was bothered by the amount of effort Trixie was putting into adding some joy to Jeremy and Emilee’s holiday.  If his mother had had a friend like Trixie…

Quickly changing into a comfortable pair of jeans and a flannel shirt, he fled the bedroom and searched for some small oasis of order and peace.  On his trek down the hallway, he noticed the door to the attic slightly ajar.  It seemed to mock him, as if even the walls of the house were part of Trixie’s bedlam.  He growled in frustration and grabbed the door handle, fully intending to slam it so hard it would rattle the neighbors’ windows.

In order to achieve enough momentum for the desired effect, Jim had to swing the door open farther first.  As he did so, he saw the soft light from Trixie’s Tree bathing the top of the stairwell.  It seemed to call to him.  Remembering Ruth’s trek to the attic the week before, he wondered if sitting in an empty room and staring at the tree could bring him some peace.  He climbed the steps, shaking his head ruefully.  He must really be losing it if he was seeking comfort from an artificial tree decorated only with lights.

Walking across the attic toward the tree, Jim rationalized that he could justify his visit to the tree by checking the wiring just for safety’s sake.  Approaching the tree, however, he noticed Ruth’s favorite blanket and teddy bear sitting in the spot where he’d seen her the other night.  As he bent down to pick up the bear, he spied two seashell ornaments at Ruth’s eye level.  Gold metallic Sharpie marker had been used to emblazon the ornaments with the words “JEREMY” and “EMILEE”.

Looking up, Jim saw that the tree was filled with shell ornaments of various shapes and sizes, each marked with a name upon it.  He fingered Jeremy’s ornament, causing it to spin slightly.  Seeing more writing on the back, Jim turned it so he could read the rest of the inscription:

Mom, Liz

Breast Cancer, 11/28/2008

Fighting the burning at the back of his eyes, Jim turned Emilee’s ornament to see the same inscription.  He stood and began to inspect the other ornaments.  They were each embossed with a single name on one side, and another name and date on the other.  He saw a shell with the name of Martina’s close friend, Tabitha.  The back listed the details of her mother ShariAnn’s death, also from breast cancer, in the same fashion as Liz’s inscription.  Beside it were matching ornaments for her brothers, Charlie and Sam.  Another ornament said “KERRY” in Lauren’s distinctive script, with an inscription marking her mother's passing this past year.  Higher up on the tree were scallop shells with green writing bearing the names of three of Trixie’s cousins, Lisa, John, and Martin, whose mother, Ann, had died of breast cancer as well.

The tree wasn’t just a monument to the battle against breast cancer, either; Jim spotted four ornaments with the names of the children of their late pastor, Nick, who had died of leukemia.  Another friend, Karleen, had two names on the back of her ornament; her mother Catherine had died from lung cancer, and twenty years later her father Karl had died of prostate cancer. 

One ornament was hollow, with another ornament inside.  The inside ornament read “BUTCH”, whose mother Geraldine had had ovarian cancer.  When Butch had died from bladder cancer, his son’s name, George, had been placed on the hollow ornament which now encased the father’s.

The parade of names before him broke his heart.  There were tiny Kitten's Paw shells for Lexi and Cooper, who just small children when breast cancer claimed their mother, Heather.  There was a mussel shell for John, whose mother Sandra had lost her battle with kidney cancer, and a cockle shell for Theresa, whose mom Madge Elizabeth succumbed to breast cancer.

A large purple shell sparkled with glitter in the name of “DIANA”.  A tear ran down his face as he turned to read the date of Sherri Lynch’s death from breast cancer.  And there was a large ornament for Dan Mangan, whose mother had succumbed to stomach cancer before Trixie had ever met him, but who held a very special place in her heart.

Near the top of the tree was the largest shell of all.  It was sparkling white, in what appeared to be the shape of an angel's wings, with emerald green letters.  On one side, it said “JIM”.  On the other side were the details about Katje and Winthrop Frayne.

Above it all rose the “star”: a huge sanddollar with the word “OHANA”.

A portion of a line from Lilo & Stitch came to Jim’s mind:  “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets… forgotten.”

He stood in awe.  The tears flowed down his face unheeded as he contemplated the time and effort that had gone into creating and decorating the hidden tree.  Over a period of ten years, Trixie had placed a couple hundred ornaments here.  It was obvious she took meticulous care of the tree and its precious treasures.  Each small ornament represented years of prayers and good wishes to heal unending pain.

This tree could seem to be nothing more than a holiday decoration.  It was visible to all who approached their home, yet its true purpose and meaning were hidden from the world.  Those who knew the secret of the tree would be prodded to pray daily for all those it represented, and most likely to work in other ways to help their cause.  Given that the power of prayer was limitless, it was impossible to gauge the impact of this simple decoration.  And no one else would ever know.

Great works with no acclaim.  It was so typically Trixie… so very Bob-White. 

For a half a second Jim wondered why Trixie had kept something so beautiful from him, but it wasn’t hard to figure that out.  To show him the tree would have been like saying, “See – this is what I did for you!”  That was something Trixie would never do.

Instead, Trixie had found this unique way of helping him through this season that, after all these years, he still found most difficult.  And she had done so without pointing out what he still saw as a personal weakness.  One by one, she had taught their children to do the same.

With a fresh perspective, Jim mentally reviewed the current state of their house.  The half-filled boxes all over the dining room were partially completed gift sets.  There were many people for whom Trixie insisted on getting gifts for Christmas.  She could easily have gotten a pile of gift cards, but that wasn’t her style.  She had to make every gift personal for every person.  In the midst of the vast amounts of work involved in a Trixie-style Christmas, she would drop everything in a moment whenever anyone in her family needed something.  Just this morning she had walked away in the middle of folding laundry to tend to her husband when he’d cut himself shaving.  And she’d rearranged her schedule for the day in order to accommodate giving rides to several of Lauren’s friends so they could join their youth group’s caroling outing.

The love which welled up inside him nearly choked him.  He suddenly felt selfish for every moment of irritation he’d had every Christmas for the last ten years.  Realizing that was a waste of time, and wanting to find a way to show his wife how much he loved her, he rushed downstairs to see if he could make heads or tails of her lists.






Trixie pulled her minivan into the driveway with a sigh.  She was so tired that the motion of shifting the car into park made her arms ache.  The four children in the car with her were strangely quiet as they looked at the house; each one had their eyes trained on the front attic window.  After a moment, Lauren broke the silence.

“Dad’s home.”

“Mmm-hhmm,” Trixie responded.  “Probably for a couple of hours now.”

“Think he’s in one of his cranky holiday moods?”

Trixie winced.  “Based on the state in which I left the house, I wouldn’t doubt it.”

Martina grumbled, “If our school district had shut down Friday like everyone else, we’d have been home to help you all day.”

“I’m sure that would’ve been a big help,” Lauren rejoined sarcastically.

“Hey!” Bronson yelled.  “We help!”

“That’s right, you do,” Martina soothed.  “Let’s go help cheer Dad up.”

“Mommy?” Ruth whispered.  “Do you think I can kiss Daddy better?”

Trixie nearly burst into tears.  She spent so much time every year trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone that each year it became less and less fun for her.  Between the exhausting pace of December, Liz’s death, and Jim’s irritability, she was just about ready to throw herself into a corner and cry herself into the next year.  Instead, she nodded to Ruth.  “I bet you can.  Let’s go try.”

As soon as they entered the house, they knew something was different.  To begin with, they came in through a sparkling-clean kitchen.  The dishwasher was humming along, and the dish drain was full of nearly dry pots and pans.  The tins of completed cookies were stacked on one counter, and the ingredients for the next planned batches were neatly lined up on another counter.  The floor had been swept, the garbage emptied, the table by the window had been stacked with clean plates and napkins… and the smell of homemade pizza wafted out of the oven.

Looking around nervously, Martina leaned toward her mother.  “Do you think he’s in an unusually good mood, or did he get so disgusted he had to take over?”

Eyeing the room suspiciously, Trixie gulped.  “There’s only one way to find out.  You guys go put your things away and wash up for dinner.  I’ll go find Dad.”

With a great deal of trepidation, Trixie headed for the dining room.  The only evidence of tampering here was that each half-filled box had a list taped to the side.  She recognized the lists as being her own, and scanned the contents of the boxes.  With a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, she switched two of the lists.  Other than that, the room was as she had left it.  Yet the small touch made everything here seem so much more organized.

She proceeded to the front hall, scanning the bookcase upon which she had left her lists.  The only ones missing were the ones she had just seen in the dining room; the rest were still on the shelf, just not the way she’d left them.  They’d been straightened and reordered, and some additional items had been checked off.  She bent over one list to look at the checkmarks; they were beside several things she’d accomplished last night.  She’d not gone over this list to see where she was today; just having those items already checked gave her a sense of accomplishment.

Moving on down the hall, she stopped in the doorway to her office.  Every wrapped gift was on a rolling cart by the door, waiting to be moved to its appropriate destination.  The paper, gift tags, bows and other wrapping supplies were neatly organized.  The yet-to-be wrapped items were still in the piles into which she had sorted them, but the piles were in a straighter line and farther out from the center of the room.  The net effect was that one could walk through the room without killing yourself.

There stood Jim, tying off a bag of garbage he had collected while picking up the house.  Trixie didn’t say a word; she just walked over to him and kissed him long and hard.  Then she buried her face under his chin and whispered over and over, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Jim held her and rocked gently, as one would when lulling a baby to sleep.  He kissed the top of her head and then rested his cheek on her curls.  “I really love the things our family does at Christmas.  I decided it would be easier for you to believe that if I stopped complaining about the way you do things, and tried to help instead.”

“You have no idea how much you’ve helped already.”  Trixie reached up to kiss him again.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he answered.  Jim reached out and tugged softly on his favorite curl.  “You’re so tired, babe.  I want to take a couple of hours after dinner to just relax together.  We can sit by the fire and go over your lists, and make a plan for tomorrow.  Let’s finish this project together.”

With a smile bright as the sun, his wife replied, “That’s my favorite way to do things.”

Just then, Bronson ran into the room.  He yelled, “The timer’s going off,” and dashed back out at full speed.

Trixie winced and sighed.  Jim raised a suspicious eyebrow.  “Are you sure you like doing things together?  That’s how we got them, after all.”

As he’d intended, Trixie burst out laughing and slapped his arm.  “Brat!  Let’s go get take control before they start fighting over who gets the biggest slice.”

Jim wrapped his arm around her shoulder and headed to the kitchen.  “There’s no fight.  The biggest slice is mine.  It’s my house, it’s my pizza, and I said so.”

Giggling at his antics, Trixie felt a huge weight drop off her shoulders.  A slice of pizza and a couple of hours with her husband would rejuvenate her, and she might actually enjoy the rest of her Christmas chores.  And with Jim’s help, she might even get them all done on time, too.



The laughter and merriment of a happy family having dinner together wafted throughout the house.  It seemed to brighten everything, and made the Christmas tree in the living room sparkle with joy.  High atop the tree, just below the star, nestled a new ornament.  It was a seashell known as an Angel Wing.  Inscribed on the inside in neat, masculine handwriting was the word “Ohana.”





  Author's Notes:


My friend, I hope you can forgive the fact that I wrote this at least as much for myself as I did for you.  My dear friend Liz's death hit me hard.  When I sat down to write, I felt like it was such a trivial thing to be doing at a time like this.  I kept trying to find words to write for you, but all I could think about was Liz.  When I found a way to turn this into a tribute to Liz, I couldn't help myself.  Then I felt guilty, because I should have been personalizing this for you.  I tried to think of things you like, and the only thing that would come to my mind was Hawaii.  When I tried to think of things I know about Hawaii, the first stupid image to pop into my head was Lilo and Stitch.  I was about to scrap everything and start over, when the word "ohana" tickled at the back of my head.  I couldn't think of the word, though, and I asked my kids.  My girls all chorused, "Ohana means family.  Family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten."  Suddenly all the pieces fell into place and I had a way to make the story make sense and have a happy ending.

Thank you for the gift of helping me work through some of my pain.  I hope the sappy ending can bring a little smile to your very busy holiday.

Mele Kalikimaka!

-- Kaye

P.S.  It was an honor to include Sandra and Lidz.