I bet lots of my mainland friends have no idea what omiyage means. So here, I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up:
In Japan, souvenirs are known as meibutsu (products associated with a particular region); and omiyage, candies or other edibles to be shared with co-workers.
For instance, if I go visit my cousins in Montana, I take both meibutsu and omiyage. But I never go empty-handed. You may ask, “And your point is?” Well, try wait. I’m gonna tell you.
Several weeks ago a very special friend of mine and his wife took a trip to Hawaiʻi; back to da ʻāina they went. Nolemana and I were supposed to meet them there, but it just didn’t work out financially for us to make it this year. Wai maka to da max, I tell you. In the first place, I wanted to go home, and in the second place, I have never met my special friend and his wife in person, and he’d promised to meet us at the airport. More wai maka!
But bless his heart, he asked me what I’d like him to send me from back home, and since I couldn’t have him send my first choice, guavas, mountain apples, papayas… the warm ocean….I said that maybe he could send me some mango seed and guava jelly? And maybe just a calendar from Long’s Drugs? And maybe if they saw a mokihana any kine? That was all I said, and he said they’d do what they could.
They had a wonderful time back home; I got a couple of quick emails from him, and even a couple of photos showing him surfing. I was so glad to know that their long-awaited trip had been so full of aloha and fun. I mourned that I couldn’t be there with them. He and I have been friends for more years than I know; we met at Alohaworld on the Lanai message board, and have spent hours, along with others, talking stories in pidgin, linked by our common love for home.
A week ago I went to the post office figuring I’d just pick up the mail. I saw the yellow card indicating I had a package to pick up. I couldn’t imagine what it was since I hadn’t ordered anything, so was surprised to see a pretty big box being handed to me across the counter. When I saw the return address, I knew it was my omiyage from my friends, and I couldn’t wait to get home and open it. Was heavy da buggah!
The first thing I saw was this:
Big deal. A plastic bag, you might think. But try look! It’s from Waiʻanae! If I lived back home, this is exactly the kind of bag I’d be carrying my stuffs in. There was also this one:
“But a couple of bags?”, you think. “Okay, they’re from back home, but so what?”
Well, the “so what?” was what was IN those bags! Like this:
Li hing mui! Dried mango! Sweet li hing mui!
Oh. Excuse, eh? Super sweet li hing mui!
Wanna see it again?
I started drooling.
But the box still had more stuffs in it! Oh my gosh! I thought I was getting guava jelly and a calendar, and that’s all.
There was more:
Well, I did get a calendar:
But there was also another one!
And a wonderful looking CD of Hawaiian mele!
And further down in the box, I found not just a jar of guava jelly, but two of them, and they’d also packed in some lilikoi jelly as well! Beautifully packaged to avoid breakage, I might add.
I began salivating all over the box when I saw this:
I had to get a towel to catch the drooling when I saw this ontop of everything else:
Instead of just finding packing materials below what I’d already unpacked, I found this:
Now I needed Kleenex, because I had tears running down my face. I was undone. The generosity of my friends was absolutely overwhelming. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages!
And try look dis! Mokihana stuffs! Kewt litto pillow boxes wit mokihana and maile illustrations! Ke ʻala o ka mokihana” means “the fragrance of the mokihana”. The mokihana berry is very fragrant and is often used in lei combined with maile leaves.
Eh. All I wen axe foa was one jar guava jelly, mango seed, and one calendar. Anden dese spesho peeps wen send me all lidis. ‘Way ova and above any kine I could even try imagine.
U know how in da Bible, when da angel wen tell Mary she was going have one keiki by da Holy Spirit and was going be da Son of God? And pau learning dat, she wen ponder in her heart wat all dat wen mean. And dat’s exactly wat I wen do wen I wen open dat box and find alla omiyage insai dea. I wen think about dis friend of mine and his wahine. We been chru plenny stuffs togedda via Alohaworld and email and IM. Chru da death of my maddah, and of dea spesho doggie. Chru happy times, chru sad times. Chru da most kolohe (rascal) times u can imagine. And yet we neva wen meet in person. Yet. And I wen think about wat dis friendship means to me. No was something I could process in jass a couple of minutes. I had to ponder it.
I wen look at dat box. And it no was jass da stuffs I wen take out of it dat wen mean so much to me. It’s dat wit every singo layer I wen uncover, da waves of aloha jass wen come outa dat box and pour ova me, jass like in hanabata days, when da warm waves of da Pacific ocean wen wash ova me and I stay so happy dat I was one keiki o ka ʻāina. Was so tangible da aloha dat wen come pouring outa dat cardboard box from Waiʻanae.
No, we neva wen meet in person yet. But da bonds of aloha among us stay strong and spesho. Not jass because of da box and its contents, but also because somebody wen hear my heart and my sadness and wen decide to do wateva dey could foa ease da hurt dat I no could go dis yea.
I get wai maka typing dis. How I can adquately say “mahalo” foa do so much foa dis homesick wahine? I tink no can.
Braddah George and Sistah Jutta… u wen bless my life moa den u know.