Thankful above all for 'ohana
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
By Eloise Aguiar
KAHALU'U — The Andrels of Kahalu'u like to share all year, but holidays bring out extra servings of fellowship that extend to all family members, in-laws and friends.
At Thanksgiving, the abundance of the season brings the family together before the big day to prepare the feast at the home of Lorea and Noll Andrel and Anna Maneja-Andres and her husband Michael Andres.
Relatives gathered last night to chop, mix, blend and bake. It's a tradition that Lorea Andrel, 56, has followed since she was a child. Sure, they like to eat, but this family relishes all the good company, Andrel said.
"We like doing this," she said. "Our relationships that we have with each other is very important."
Nine people, including four men, circled the large kitchen to prepare the turkey, stuffing, gravy, ham, yams, baked beans, potato salad, lumpia, pork hash, rice, butter mochi, brownies and poke. They planned to purchase noodles and a couple of pies.
Andrel said she expects about 20 people at their home this evening, fewer than the usual 30, but they really don't know who will come.
"You can invite whoever you want," Andrel said. "So there is no telling who might show up. It's always open. You don't have to ask."
The observance of Thanksgiving doesn't begin and end at Andrel's home. The family will go to her daughter-in-law's for lunch and then return for their meal. The next day they nibble leftovers and recount the good times that went into the preparation of the meal, she said.
"You get to enjoy it one more day," Andrel said.
But Andrel said she didn't see her family as unique. Many people she knows have at least 20 to 30 people over for Thanksgiving.
"It's the local family style," she said, "You see the cars up and down the road. That's just the way it is."
The soggy weather yesterday didn't dampen the spirits of the group, who had sweat glistening on their foreheads as they bantered about their cooking.
Anna Maneja-Andres, 33, is known for her brownies, which everyone loves. She declared her recipe a secret she would not share. The secret is in the box, someone chimed in.
"The men in our family are really good cooks," Andrel said, adding that her son Michael Andres, 34, was making the lumpia, and her brother Robert Loo, 55, was preparing pork hash using 'o'io, a bone fish, as one of the ingredients.
Loo said it was a recipe he learned as a firefighter.
The lumpia will have shrimp and mushrooms, a variation Andres added to his grandmother's recipe. Miki-Lee Henriques, 37, said the recipe is a family tradition, one of many the family follows and tries to improve on.
Other traditions include having the home decorated for Christmas by Thanksgiving, said Maneja-Andres. The 4,000 square-foot home, which they just purchased with her in-laws, has two decorated Christmas trees, stockings hanging at the fireplace, red and green foliage on the staircase railings and village displays in the window. The children love it, saying they consider themselves lucky.
Dustin Maneja-Poole, 12, said he has a great family and the family gatherings are a time to get to know each other better.
"It's good when other people come," Dustin said. "It's more fun, enjoyable."
As the work progressed in the kitchen, the topic turned to what people were thankful for. Andres joked about being thankful for his sister Miki-Lee's new Hummer that he hopes to drive. But she was happy to be pregnant with her first child.
Maneja-Andres said she was thankful for great in-laws who made it possible for her and her husband to buy a real home with a yard for the children to play in.
A loving God, good health, happy marriages, children, friends, relatives and food were all on the list, but Andrel summed it this way:
"It's about the food, but that's not the point," she said. "The point is being able to spend the day with people w ho are important to you, our family and friends."
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org.