High school graduation in Hawaii is unlike graduation I have seen anywhere else. Do not let the picture above fool you. That is only the diploma-giving ceremony, inside, with two seats per grad. The lovefest follows outside in the school compound, and the activity is called “lei-ing.” For real.
First of all, people have to be able to find THEIR grad – so each family makes a big sign with a photo of the loved one. This is our Tina’s sign.
Then the lei-ing starts. It is not just flower leis. Here is Tina early in the process with candy leis and a swimming floatie, adorned with love messages from the donor.
Here is one of the boy grads, whose leis include blow-up dolls.
Some Samoan grads get lei-ed in more grandiose style – with yards of tapa creating a Throne Room feel. You might notice the mountain of leis behind this grad.
Leis of money are also popular. I’m so impressed with the origami folds!
A grander folded dollar gift is the “money helmet” Dollars also star in the flat dollar lei. Now you can also see a second purpose for the sign. Once this boy has leis piled around his neck as well, it takes the sign to know whose eyes are peeking out behind all the presents.
This photo also has a clear shot of the “mesh bag” leis. Stores sell rolls of cylindrical mesh that people can fill with the treats that their grad loves the most. Most people strive to do something unique.
So here is Tina’s sister – with Tina’s gift to her fellow grad besties: inscribed toilet seats. This was a first. No one had come up with toilet seat leis before…. go figure.
And now, here is Tina (on the right) toward the end of the lei-ing. She staggered home not long after. It took both Nigel and me to help her get all the leis off. I wish I had written an inventory of what all she had. This what I remember: balloons, floaties, ribbon leis with bags of popped popcorn, about 8 bags of high end chocolates, plastic hard candy leis, a yarn lei of Trojan condoms, a money lei, plastic flower leis, ribbon leis with single items like a can of Pringles and cup noodles, mesh leis full of candy bars, braided ribbon leis, leis full of Japanese rice crackers that she was especially eager to re-gift, and fresh flower leis: orchids, gingers, tuberose.
Why SUCH a big deal, I asked my daughter Clara. She said that it is so the kids will stick it out and graduate. Drop out? No party! Apparently the incentive really works.
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Flora and fauna …. well here is my one lonely fauna:
Nigel’s betta fish who is depressed. Now that the baby is around, nobody is playing with it. Clara coached me on how to play with the betta. She’s afraid if the betta gets too lonely, it will die. (like their last one did)
“Why not get a companion fish for it?” I asked
“Because they will fight and cannot live with other fish. They’ll rip each other’s fins up.” she replied.
I think I know some people like that.
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Happy week, everybody.
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