I decided to save myself the hassle of coming up with a perfectly worded blog post about this year's luau so...Today's blog post is courtesy of my bestest blogger (I taught her everythign she knows) and favorite sister, Cynthia. Happy Reading!
The Annual Anderson Luaus have been going on for a while. We have a hard time figuring out when the first "real" luau was because it grew out of a series of graduation and birthday parties in the late 90s. What we can say is that our family has thrown a big backyard bash every summer since 1996. That's a lot of luauing. After the graduations, the luaus kind of became my dad's thing. It was a time when he got his childhood, high school, and old work friends together to hang out and catch up. We all thought it was a great idea so we started inviting all of our friends too (some of whom I see only once a year at the luau), and our little parties ballooned into 100+ people, standing room only events. My dad passed away one week before the luau this year, but there was no doubt in our minds that they party would still go on. My dad loved these luaus, and he made it known to my mom that the party was to go on with or without him. The luau became a "memorial celebration" and we partied it up just like Big Ray wanted us to do. I have to admit that as the day of the luau approached, I really was dreading it. I wondered why we didn't cancel it in the first place. After all, the funeral was just three days before the party and when we started cooking on Friday, I really just couldn't get in the "mood" to do it. However, as the guests started pouring in my whole feeling changed. There was so much smiling and laughter and love that I remembered why we love the luau in the first place. It was just like old times, and you could tell that my dad was hanging out there in spirit:) I didn't take many pictures at the party this year, but between my sister and my pictures, here are a few of the highlights.
How's that for a highlight? My brother-in-law's cousin lives in the area and graciously performed the fire-knife dance this year. It was as awesome as it looks. Kind of makes our little dance show pale in comparison. We had a much smaller, reserved "show" than in previous years. Charlotte, Tehani, my mom, and I each did a dance. My mom did one of the numbers that she used to perform when her and my dad first met. (In case you didn't know, my parents met when my mom was dancing back in the day. My dad's friend owned the restaurant where her group used to dance on the weekends. I like to say that they met when my mom was an exotic dancer, but she doesn't find that so humorous:) Even in her old age, Crazy J still hasn't lost it:)
Little Charlotte was definitely the show-stopper though. She has been practicing her dance for weeks, and my dad loved to watch her practice. He said that it didn't matter what our dances looked like because she was going to steal the show, and he was right. If you'd like to check her out, you can click here. (Hopefully this will take you my sister's Facebook page. She tried to send me the video from her phone, but we're having technical difficulties.)
How adorable is that? I was afraid she would get up there and freak out when she saw all the people, but she loved it. I guess I don't have to worry about her being too shy:) On a random side note, I sewed some matching dresses for Charlotte and Tehani. I had been wanting to do it for the last couple of years but always ran out of time. I wish I would have taken a picture of the two of them side by side, but you can still get an idea from the pictures. I think they turned out pretty cute.
Just like earlier in the week, people really stepped up to help us out with the luau. My sister's friend and her daughter flew in from Utah, which was great because I think without them, we may not have had all the cooking done in time. Our old neighbor and her granddaughter were in from southern Illinois, and they helped cook food, set up the tables, and watch Charlotte (thank you so much, Ashley!). After the party, my dad's guys stayed to helped take down the tent, tables, and chairs and get them ready to go back to the rental place. Because of them, hours worth of work were completed in less than an hour. So now the question is--Is this the last luau? Crazy J has always said that there would be no more luaus after my dad was gone. To handle all of the inside and outside preparation (which my dad normally did) would just be too much. And it is--20+ homemade dishes for 100+ people in an immaculately landscaped yard is a lot of time and money for one woman. But...I'm not sure that the final decision's been made. We all had so much fun this year. It was nice to see all the old friends and family that we only see once a year, and it was nice to do something Big Ray loved so much. So I guess we'll wait and see.
p.s. If you want another luau next year, you should let Crazy J know. I think she can be swayed by peer pressure:)