The Story of the Auntie Manalani Ornament

As it happened, I was just completing the first complete draft of my novel last year around the holidays. I wanted to come up with a special gift as a thank-you for friends that had stood by me and helped me reach that point. A Christmas ornament from Hawaii seemed like a nice memento for the occasion so I started a Google search. It was a huge disappointment; mostly I found cheap mass produced junk, and the same junk at site after site. Somehow I was hoping for something better that a plastic Santa on a plastic surfboard strumming a plastic ukulele.

I had almost given up when I found Maui Pacifica and immediately saw original, beautiful ornaments that I would be proud to give my friends. I was immediately drawn to a Hawaiian Mrs. Claus ornament which was a pretty good stand-in for the most popular character in the novel. Anyone who has read any part of Point Option quickly adopts Auntie Manalani, the delightful kahuna pule wahine. The only things that kept it from being absolutely perfect were the granny glasses and the brown eyes. Manalani definitely doesn’t wear glasses. Also, I found a newspaper obituary for a very famous auntie who was pure blooded Hawaiian but with blue eyes. Blue eyes are, of course, extremely rare among ethnic Hawaiian to the point that some people claim that they are “Captain Cook’s children”, in other words: they have some European genes acquired so long ago that no one remembers. Genetic scientists claim that blue eyes are possible but only in a miniscule portion of the population. To make Manalani stand out as a very special person I gave her blue eyes.

I doubted that custom versions were available and if they were, they would be prohibitively expensive. Still it was worth investing in a phone call to ask. A nice gentleman, apparently Morrie, answered the phone and I made my request fully expecting to be told that the ornaments were made somewhere on the other side of the Pacific and ordered in batches of thousands. Instead, he Morrie covered the mouthpiece and asked an actual human - In the same room - If they could make up a small batch to order. I heard a female voice answer yes, saying that the glasses are actually the hardest part to make.

So far so good. Taking a deep breath, I then asked about price, prepared to pay the expected 100% to 200% premium for a last minute special order. In fact, I was quoted the regular price (unheard of) and the ornaments were quickly in my hands.

Everyone who received one was thoroughly delighted; they are indeed little hand-crafted treasures. It was great to find that such craftsmanship and efficient friendly service is alive and well on Maui.

Hawaiian Christmas Ornaments from Maui Pacifica

Auntie Manalani Doll
Model A open cab truck 
Grant, the Skipper and the Chief