Ka Wai Ola

As 2018 comes to a close and 2019 is yearning to embrace us, may we too come bearing gifts of gratitude and thanksgiving for the many blessings received in the year gone by, much like the three wise men “who came bearing gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold for the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes…” For family and loved ones, living and departed. For dear friends and all who made a positive, purposeful and meaningful difference in our lives. For parents who through “tough love” or whatever parenting model they used to move us from dependence on them to living on our own. For teachers, mentors and role models who did their best to put us on pathways to hopefully a happy and sustainable life. For lessons learned and for the privilege of living in this beautiful archipelago stretching from Hawai‘i to Kure Atoll, described by Mark Twain “as the most beautiful of islands anchored in any ocean.” For living in a Country under the rule of law where due process, freedoms of assembly, free speech and a free press are fundamental liberties we enjoy. I ask you, “What are you grateful for this Merry Season?”

Here is my list. I’m blessed to have a loving and loyal soulmate who gave up her good life and family in San Francisco half a century ago for a simple life in Kohala Hema with “a wannabe paniolo.” I am grateful for our sons, daughters-in-law and four grandsons who fill our lives everyday with abundant and endless joy. I am grateful people think of me as a “servant leader” since 2007 at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. I am grateful for my capable, committed and competent staff, Kama Hopkins and Kauikeaolani Wailehua. I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Kamana‘o Crabbe, his Executive Leadership Team and the entire OHA staff to serve OHA’s Vision, Mission and Strategic Priorities. I am grateful to our beneficiaries for your trust, support and confidence in OHA and me. I am grateful in receiving a second chance at life in March 2016 to serve ke Akua and to be a blessing to others. I am grateful to all the doctors, nurses, caregivers, practitioners and therapists who have helped and who are continuing to help me recover from a hemorrhagic stroke. My “Mahalo List” is bottomless. Please take a moment to ponder the year gone by. “Count your blessings. Name them one by one.” I hope you will find your list to be bottomless as well.

I always look forward to Christmas and to its sounds, scents, joy and pageantry. The emotional carols always invigorate. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Elvis’ “Blue Christmas,” are always hits. Ann Murray’s “If I Could Have Three Wishes,” and Burl Ives’, “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” are always pleasing. “O Tannenbaum,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Little Drummer Boy,” never disappoint and I cannot leave out Alvin and the Chipmunks and their rendition of “Christmas, Christmas Time is Here.” All are personal favorites.

The Hallmark Christmas movie series fill homes with laughter and tears. I also enjoy watching the Kamehameha Schools annual Christmas concert beamed from the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall. I usually listen to KAPA radio and wait in anticipation to hear “Pō La‘i ē,” “Mele Kalikimaka,” and others. I love going to church on Sunday and Christmas Eve to listen to the age-old readings from the Old and New Testaments. For me, these are old but always seem like brand new readings. “Tis the Season to Be Jolly…” Mele Kalikimaka!