Happy May Day and lei day and celebrations across Hawai’i Nei

I am ashamed to admit that  when I drove up to the Island Pacific Academy parking lot to pick up my older daughter, who was helping set up for the May Day festivities to be held the next day and I saw how hard they were all working to make a stage and a seating area and decorate with palm leaves and plumeria flowers, I wondered to myself, “Is it worth it?”

I knew right away that I was just feeling guilty that I wasn’t out there sweating with the best of them and that  the next day would turn all of their labor into a blessing for my family and the entire IPA community at the 4th Annual May Day Celebration, Na Mo’olelo Hawai’i, The Legends of Hawaii.

Of course it was a blessing. Legendary. And a beautiful story they told.

My Jewish Hawaiian Princess joined the court, representing the island of Hawaii. Both of my girls danced. Our princess wore a hand-made lehua lei that her grandmother ordered from her brother in Hilo.

And the school came together under the clear, sunny sky, in our growing city of Kapolei, to revel in this May Day tradition of hula and song.

Even more remarkable is that the students danced to live music provided by June and Makana Kuahiwinui, Les Harris, Charlie Fukuba, and Madi Davis. IPA music teacher Ruthe Babas sang as well.

Their music was so perfect and their voices  so beautiful that I had to look several times to make sure it was not a recording. IPA Teacher Veronique Braithewaite was missed due to her  maternity leave, but they honored her with a big photo at the microphone.

I felt a bit emotional thinking that this will be my older daughter’s last May Day with IPA. She  will enter ninth grade at Kamehameha Schools next year. I tearfully remembered all of the care from Miss Momi and Mrs. Babas and then felt a little silly. We are not leaving IPA. Our younger girl will be there next year. Our blessings will grow with two programs to attend.

It  still tugged on my heart-strings, this rite of passage.

Kol Hakavod and Mahalo Nui Loa to Miss Momi and Mrs. Babas and all of the dedicated students and parents who came together to make this wonderful celebration a part of IPA’s history. Na Mo’olelo IPA.

Melekalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou. Keep your eyes closed for the picture of the ham if you keep kosher.

I am always clear that we do not celebrate Christmas. That does not mean that I begrudge others their celebration. On the contrary, I fully support whatever is your family’s tradition and the great joy it brings for you.

It just bugs me that it has to be so public and that there is no consideration that it might not be my tradition. Local culture as well as most retail establishments assume that everybody wants to get in the holiday spirit before the Thanksgiving turkey can be served as left overs and sandwiches.

At my kids’ school the Christmas trees appeared in the lobby on the first day of Chanukah and one of the teachers dressed up like an elf for weeks before the winter break. It makes my kids feel left out, not to mention that she looked a little silly.

I’d say it wasn’t a until a few days ago that I was ready for the world to enjoy Christmas, and I did manage to get into the holiday spirit in my way.

There were many firsts for me this year.

Since I helped organize the Kukui Center’s holiday party, I bought Christmas decorations for the first time in my life. I strolled the aisles of Longs and picked up some tinsel and ornaments and a couple of stockings. It felt weird and I hoped nobody I knew would see inside my shopping cart!

But the party was very nice and all the staffs of the 8 non-profits co-located at the center came together for a joyful afternoon and celebration of a year of hard work and helping people.

While it has nothing to do with Christmas, yesterday I went to my first tailgate party at the Aloha Stadium where UH played in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and, more importantly, my older daughter danced hula in the half time show.

We got there early and set up and spent the day relaxing and enjoying the delicious hamburgers and sausages my husband grilled.

The girls got ready and nervously awaited their international half time debut. They and the other 300 hula dancers were televised and aired across the nation and in Japan.

And today I made my first ham! My husband’s battalion held a gathering at lunchtime and he was in charge of the ham. Never before have I cooked a holiday ham, but for the soldiers I did.

There wasn’t much to it. I put it in the oven and when it was warm he took it out. I’m sure there are others that employ much more art for their hams. But for this Jewish girl’s debut, I do think it was quite successful.

I did not join him and his soldiers to find out how it tasted. Instead, my younger daughter and I went out to deliver meals for Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels. This has become our annual Christmas tradition. We started last year and were pleased to have the opportunity to do it again.

She is thrilled and I am satisfied to do our part to bring some food and joy and company to other people’s holiday. We made goodie bags and she made cards and we hit the road to pick up the meals and distribute them on the west side.

So when all is said and done. Melekalikimaka to you and your family, even if you don’t celebrate.  It certainly has been a nice one for ours.