Da' Hawaii Club Christmas Dinner Party

Wednesday, December 19, 2001
Sunny Suburbia


Last night, Da' Hawaii Club held its Christmas Dinner Party, and what a superb event it was!  Chairwoman-Mistress of Ceremonies Fely did a fine job, and the party was a smashing success in every way.

Chairwoman - Mistress of Ceremonies, Fely

Highlights of the evening for us were the lively entertainment by musicians Harry, Max, and the guys from Duke's in Huntington Beach: Pete, Eric, and gang who played with style, class, charm and poise; Fely's graceful and sparkling White Christmas hula solo, and Hedy's breathtakingly beautiful and passionate solo rendition of  Mary, Did You Know?.

Hedy, hula dancer and singer extraordinaire

This group of Hawai'i folks is overflowing with talent, musicianship and enthusiasm.  Add extensive versatility combined with the seasoning attributed to veteran performers and you've got the makings for the best kind of Hawaiian song and dance, the kind that comes from the heart.

Harry, `ukulele maestro & Peter, steel guitar master

Santa must've dieted all year, as there was little girth to Santa Al (you can see him in the background in the picture below).  He was delightfully spry in his baggy bermuda shorts, prancing from table to table, pulling out fistfuls of candy from his bulging pockets and tossing them on the tables with a ho, ho, ho.

The hula ladies wore their newest hula garb:  white, lacy holoku-style mu`umu`u with trains.  Like snowflakes, they gracefully drifted on the dance floor to the strains of Mele Kalikimaka and Tiny Bubbles.

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say...on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day...
Click here for an enlargement

Our instructor, Hilda (that's her to the far left), did a fabulous job of patiently teaching us novices, and we had so much fun keeping up with the seasoned dancers. No one has anything to prove in this group. Le'ale'a -- have fun. Mai hilahila! -- don't be shy!  If the Merrie Monarch Hula Competition (the Olympics of hula) was judged on good sportsmanship alone,  Da' Hawaii Club Hula Hâlau would win that competition, hands-down.

Da' Hawaii Club Hula Hâlau
Click here for an enlargement

Most enjoyable was the uplifting camaderie and happy spirits of being with my buds.  All around us, we saw friends that we've known before joining the club, many for years and years:  Jeanette and Harry, Sharon and Keith, Toby and David, Arlene and Roy, Mary Jane and Kay, Henry and Doris, Kay, Gylene, and Hedy.  We are also making many new ones, including Rudy, born on Kaua`i and raised in Kalihi, and his wife Becky, who we met last night.

Gylene is a godsend to me (that's her with the 'ukulele below). I first got to know Gylene, Beulah, and Hedy from the Leal School Read-Alouds and look what that lead to!  It is Gylene who got me involved with the hula hâlau, even loaning her club mu`umu`u to me and getting my lei and lei po`o to perform with the group after one lesson (oh my, aren't we brave in our senior years?).  

L to R:  Flo, Hedy, Hannah, Jeanette, Yours Truly, Beulah, & Gylene:  
My hula seestahs and buds!
Click here for an enlargement

The organizational talent of this group is exceptionally remarkable.  Many of these folks held high-powered, responsible positions before retiring, and it shows!  They are movers and shakers who are now putting their well-honed skills and talents to excellent use with club activities and events. 

These are the club's music lunas: 
 the choir director and multi-talented guitarist, singer, and comic, Max

The tasty dinner (with the sinfully scrumptious chocolate cake for dessert), games, lucky number game, and caroling (complete with printed lyrics and chords) were efficiently organized and well-paced. The program moved fluidly without any hitches.

Although we are, for this little while, the youngest in the club, we feel right at home; raised by grandparents, we've long noticed that as a couple, we are drawn to those older than us. Some of the kupuna (elders) around our table are in their 70s and 80s, and yes, although we are baby kupuna at age 50 and they could be our parents, we feel at ease with them, enjoying the grace of their years and their uniquely Hawaiian warmth and friendliness.

My heart was bursting with happiness to see them singing their hearts out with familiar tunes like Mele Kalikimaka and 12 Days of Hawaiian Christmas, keeping the beat with the tambourines, rattles, and bells, laughing at Max's jokes, and having good fun, just as they did as keiki in Hawai`i. 

What a wonderful night full of Christmas cheer and Hawaiian Aloha it was!  

>> Previous entry on Da' Hawaii Club

This morning, I finished up the last of our Christmas cards and newsletters, and they are now in the mail!  Now, I can relax and fully enjoy Christmas.

And relax and enjoy we did.  At 5 pm, DH and I were walking down Hollywood Boulevard at Disney California Adventure to "where the sky meets the road" to see  The Power of Blast! at the Hyperion Theater. It is a limited engagement, and we made sure that we caught this Tony-winning event, as it will be moving on to the Orange County Perfoming Center with its full length show.

>> Click here for more about Blast!

The outdoor vendor's frozen banana looked too good to pass up, and we shared one as we stood in line. Cruella from the 1001 Dalmatians movie slinked by us with a sneer befitting her character, further amusing us with her snarl.  As Jim Carrey would say, " N-a-a-asty!"

DH had no idea what Blast! was about, and knowing how much he loves brass music, I watched his face as he realized that it was a musical extravanganza with brass and percussion instruments. The beaming smile on his face was priceless.

No hype here; the show is exactly as billed.  It is... POWERFUL.  It is a BLAST!   

With great music, stunning choreography, and incredible moments, it is awesome. The 40-plus cast is high energy and in constant motion. We loved it!

After the show, we checked out the new Italian restaurant that replaced the store and deli at the Winery, two of our favorite sites at DCA that bit the dust. Not yet hungry, we passed on the Italian fare.

We trekked over to Disney's California Grand Hotel, which is a jewel of hotel for every season.  The decorated lobby was as magnificent as I'd anticipated with a towering tree placed regally smack dab in the middle of the Great Room. As we stood admiring the tree, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face.  It was Dan, a friend and client for 18 years.  The last time I saw him, about a month ago, he'd mentioned that in all the years that he's worked at Disney as a (real) fireman, he has only seen one person he knew.

And so I unobtrusively sidled up to him, and whispered, "And now it's two!"  Seeing me out of context, Dan was shocked in the most pleasant way. Within an hour,  I pulled off two surprises.  Oh, happy day.  

The hotel has the most wonderful rock fireplace, always with a roaring fire going.  We found the two adult rockers in front of it just waiting for us, and we spent the next hour kicking back and rocking in front of the fire, holding hands and taking in the Christmas ambience.

A couple of young families joined us in the alcove, and we enjoyed the young children's puppy energy as they played their version of musical chairs with the little rockers.  

A storyteller named Ellen stopped by. With a walking stick, dressed in rugged hiking clothes with a canteen and cooking pan hooked to her stuffed backpack, she played the role of master storyteller to the hilt with excellent expressiveness.  She regaled us with Native American stories, including one about the braggart, prideful bear who was outfoxed, losing his beautiful, plume of a tail when he went out fishing on the frozen lake.  

Storyteller Ellen at the Disney California Grand Hotel's fireplace

We then sauntered over to Disneyland, and took a walk in the New Orleans Square, our favorite area there. By then, DH had worked up an appetite. We stopped by the River Belle Terrace, where DH had a hot turkey sandwich and I had a bowl of clam chowder. We dined al fresco on the terrace overlooking the Rivers of America and the majestic Mark Twain steamer.

After dinner, we made our way to the Partners' Statue, right in time for the fireworks and in the right spot for an unobstructed view of Sleeping Beauty's Castle on one side and Main Street on the other, which was thronged with holiday revelers. For dessert, we munched on freshly popped popcorn.

As the night sky lit up with Disney's unbelievable spectacular fireworks, we remembered what Dan, our fireman friend, had just told us.  Each show costs Disneyland $11,000.



"Life is a Gift."

Mele Kalikimaka,
Author Unknown

P.S.  If you would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to this journal entry, you may do it here.  

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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September 29, 2001
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