The New Neighbors


“You have flour on your nose, Jeffrey,” Mother teased.

Jeffrey looked down to see the white flour powdering his nose. They both began to laugh.

“I think I have flour on more than just my nose,” said Jeffrey as his eyes traveled farther down to his shirt and trousers. He dumped another cup of flour into the big batch of bread dough and mixed it thoroughly. His sister Barbara began wiping off the kitchen table so the dough could be kneaded and divided into loaves.

“You’re both doing such a good job helping to make the bread that there’s nothing left for me to do!” exclaimed Mother.

Jeffrey and Barbara beamed at each other, and Barbara said, “Look. Even Jason wants to help.”

Three-year-old Jason was sitting on the kitchen floor struggling to pull bread pans out of the cupboard.

“Welcoming our new neighbors across the street has really become a family affair,” Mother said. “Your dad’s out in the garden right now,” she added, “picking tomatoes and zucchini to take over to them.”

“Where’s Jenny?” asked Barbara.

Just then Jenny came bursting into the kitchen.

“Mother!” she wailed. “You simply have to help me decide what I’m going to do for the school variety show. I’m supposed to tell my teacher this week.”

“Maybe you could play that new piece you’ve been learning on the piano,” Mother calmly suggested.

“Oh, Mother!” Jenny replied impatiently. “I played the piano last year. I want to do something new and different.”

“Mmm,” said Mother, “I’ll have to think about it. Why don’t you help us finish making this bread for our new neighbors, and we’ll talk about what you might do.”

Jenny glanced scornfully at the powdery white trail across the kitchen floor and at the gooey globs of dough on Jeffrey’s hands. She retreated to her bedroom, mumbling something about having more important things to do than make bread.

“Jenny certainly isn’t much help today,” Barbara declared.

“She just doesn’t realize how much fun she’s missing,” Mother said, sighing with disappointment.

That afternoon, when the Anderson family was ready to take their gifts to welcome the new neighbors, Dad found Jenny watching television.

“Aren’t you coming with us?” asked Dad. “We’re all anxious to meet the new people across the street.”

“Doesn’t sound like much fun to me,” replied Jenny, not taking her eyes off the show she was watching.

“Jenny,” said Dad firmly, “we really feel that the whole family should go over to welcome our new neighbors. Please come with us.”

“Oh, all right,” said Jenny, “but I’d much rather stay here and watch television.”

Dad rang their new neighbor’s doorbell, and a man with black hair and dark eyes opened the door and looked curiously at the family. Dad introduced himself and the rest of the family and explained that they were a welcoming committee. The man’s face broke into a big grin. Calling his wife and two daughters, he enthusiastically invited Dad, Mother, Jeffrey, Jenny, Barbara, and Jason into his home.

When Dad presented them with warm bread and freshly-picked vegetables, the new family exclaimed in unison, “Mahalo! Mahalo!”

The Andersons soon learned that Mr. and Mrs. Kanahele and their daughters, Leimomi and Lani, had moved to California from a small town in Hawaii and that mahalo means thanks in Hawaiian.

Looking around at the stacks of boxes, the Anderson family offered to help the Kanaheles unpack. Soon everyone was talking and laughing.

Leimomi was delighted to find that she would be in Jenny’s class at school. Lani was Barbara’s age.

As the four girls chattered away, Mother smiled because Jenny seemed to be enjoying herself most of all. She and Leimomi were busily rummaging through a box of Leimomi’s Hawaiian treasures, and Jenny was telling Leimomi that she would be glad to show her around school.

Jenny and Leimomi were gaily dancing around with the grass skirt Leimomi had dug out of the box when they heard Mrs. Kanahele exclaim to Lani, “Now you will be able to have a hauoli la hanau!”

Hauoli la hanau means happy birthday in Hawaiian,” Lani explained to the Andersons. “My birthday is next week, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends to invite to the party, but now Barbara and Jenny are here. Will you come?”

“That would be a lot of fun!” exclaimed Barbara. “I’ve never been to a Hawaiian birthday party.”

When the Andersons went home, Dad’s arms were loaded with pineapples, Jeffrey was lugging two coconuts, and Mother was wearing a lei. Jason toted two big bananas that had been grown in the Kanahele’s backyard in Hawaii.

“You know,” Mother said, smiling thoughtfully, “I think we’re taking more home with us than we took over to them.”

“Yes,” Dad said, “and we all seemed to enjoy our visit.”

Jenny tugged at Dad’s sleeve. “It certainly was more fun than watching television. And, Mom, now I know what I’m going to do for the variety show. Leimomi is going to teach me some hula steps and let me wear her grass skirt. Best of all, she’s my aikane (friend).

[illustrations] Illustrated by Beverly Glazier