Lilly from Hawaii expressed her welcoming spirit by gesture.
Whenever a person, be it visitor from one of the other islands or a stranger, she was the one always down at beach first, holding a flower lei to place over their head and around their neck as the symbol of welcome.
Even when she was the guest in the home of a family member or friend, Lilly brought a floral lei as a sort of welcome – into her heart. This was most unconventional throughout all the Hawaiian islands and Lilly became something of affectionate figure to all Hawaiians, regardless of what island they called home.
At a time when many explorers from foreign lands were beginning to come to Hawaii, Lilly never hesitated in offering welcome, no matter how differently they spoke, looked or behaved. Somehow, she had the gift of detecting qualities in them which she shared.
So when a young Scotsman was the first to jump to the sand from a rowboat, which had carried him from the anchored ship of Captain Cooke along with a large crew in silver helmets, she thought nothing of running up to place a lei around his neck.
The others called him “Sammy the Sweep” because he’d been known as Glasgow’s best chimney sweep. He’d loved that job because it kept him on the rooftops where he could gaze for hours at the night sky above.
Since so many of the boys from poor families in Glasgow had to work as chimney sweeps, Sammy also learned not only about how to best maneuver up and down chimneys, but had a chance to observe the naughty or nice behavior of his young, fellow chimney sweeps.
Sammy seemed peculiar to many of the ship’s crew, even more so when they saw just how impulsively he hugged Lilly in appreciation for the floral lei – but Lilly thought it was as natural as breathing.
Lilly did stand apart from other islanders, and they found it curious just how impulsively she had returned the hug – but Sammy thought it was as natural as breathing.
The Captain and his crew laughed at Sammy when, instead of joining them in exploring the island, he asked Lilly to introduce him to the children there. They didn’t understand why he cared about doing this, but Sammy had learned what he needed to know before they sailed away.
The Hawaiian islanders laughed at Lilly when she said that Sammy would someday be sailing back, but Lilly had learned what she needed to know. Her brother pointed out that, given the dangers of a sea journey from Europe across the Atlantic, down around South America and out into the open Pacific Ocean all the way to Hawaii, Sammy would not make a return sea voyage to Hawaii. And he was right.
Some years later, one clear night, Lilly lay awake, somehow excited but for no particular reason. As she stared out into a dark blue sky, she noticed that several silver stars were moving. She awoke her brother with great excitement, telling her it was just shooting stars. He went back to sleep, but Lilly went outside, into the nearby cane field. There stood Sammy. Or, as he was known back home, Sammy Claus.
He had a bit of white to his beard now but Lilly barely noticed, so in awe was she of the sleigh and eight reindeer behind him. Without a word between them, they clasped hands, climbed into the sleigh and flew off, up and away, heading to his family home at the North Pole.
When Lilly excitedly stepped out of the sleigh at the North Pole, she was greeted by Sammy’s parents, a now quite elderly Santa and Mrs. Claus, both eager to spend their remaining Christmases and all holidays in the comfortable, old wood house which stood hidden in the shadow of the grand Palace, their “show home,” for ceremonies and entertainment ushering the holiday season in, and closing it out.
Lilly felt unsettled and uncomfortable, troubled inside. Her eyes darted around the Claus family to the various shops and stores and buildings of the snow-covered village. They grew bright with creative energy, however, when they settled on the bordering forest. Santa and Mrs. Claus, Sammy Claus and others there to greet her looked where she was looking, but couldn’t figure out why she was now smiling. All they saw were clumps of young, rather wildly growing pine trees in bad need of trimming.
It almost seemed like Lilly had read their minds about the need to remove the hanging branches. She dashed over to the trees and snapped off two long, thin branches and then pulled off the pine cones and green needled branches which grew out of them. began to carefully break off long, thin slips of the spruce tree branches. She kept her back to the Clauses, who just stood there wondering what she was doing.
This was a curious young woman.
What they could not see was that Lilly was rapidly twining the loose slips of spruce around two long, thin branch pieces. The moment she turned around, however, Sammy knew what Lilly had done.
Lilly had fashioned two round Hawaiian leis, made not of colorful flowers but pine branches.
With the branches holding the lose pieces together, they were stiffer than the Hawaiian lei, but she still followed her tradition and placed one around the neck of both Santa and Mrs. Claus, a symbol of welcome into her heart.
And just like her son Sammy, Mrs. Claus made an impulsive response in kind, giving Lilly a gift of her own two red hair ribbons.
And with these Lilly made another gift, ornamenting the pine leis by tying the red hair ribbons around them. Everyone was struck in the same moment by these creations of welcome, for in that moment, the woman who would soon be known as Lilly Claus had created the very first Christmas wreaths.
All around the world, the Christmas wreath is hung on the doors of homes, a symbol of welcome. Lilly Claus is to be thanked for that.
THE CHARACTERS AND STORYLINE OF THIS SERIES ARE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL