Under the Christmas moon

“Tiny bubbles in the wine, make me happy, make me feel fine. Tiny bubbles make me warm all over, with a feeling that I’m gonna love you till the end of time.” Echoes of the late great Hawaiian crooner, Don Ho.

As we neared the table of plenty at the state kitchen, John, who had been busy greeting all the ladies (at 91 he still has that mesmerizing Portuguese charm), looked over our table and said, “Where’s the wine? I don’t see any wine!” It was like the Marriage feast of Cana all over again. Answering the call, I quickly hopped into my paddy-wagon, sped down the hill to my house, grabbed a bottle of St. Francis wine as well as a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream for good measure (I’m not planning on opening an Irish pub), and armed with a bottle opener, hurried back to the feast. By this time John Arruda had a grin on his face like one of my orange tabby cats when it is time to eat. We were being treated to a magnificent Christmas dinner compliments of the Hawaiian Board of Health.

Our celebration of the birth of the Savior had begun on Christmas at Kanana’ana Hou, our neighboring Congregational church. Reverend Richard Matsushita led the service assisted by Richard Miller and Edwin Palepali. We heard hauntingly beautiful music by Richard and stirring piano accompaniment by Zianna Kaulia. Reverend Richard gave the homily and we all joined in singing at the top of our voices. Later we celebrated our first Christmas Mass and were led in singing by members of the St. John Vianney choir from Kailua, Oahu. Afterwards we gathered next door at Damien Hall for refreshments provided by the choir. The next morning dawned bright and early and so those of us with voices still intact joined in celebration of Christ’s birth at the 9 a.m. Mass.

The sun had long since slipped behind those majestic pali (mountains) on the southwest side when I stepped out onto the porch. I had hoped to witness the flight of the space station as it passed south of here travelling from west to east but the passing clouds hindered the view. Still, the full moon in all its golden glory lit up the night sky and illumined the normally dark lawn in front of St. Francis Church. It was a fitting and glorious end to a beautiful Kalaupapa Christmas day.

“So here’s to the golden moon and here’s to the silver sea and mostly here’s a toast to you and me!” Here’s a toast to our Savior born in Bethlehem! Aloha.

Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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