This one is dedicated to my BFF who told me to do exactly what I want to do. So, I gave birth to this short essay.
December 24, 2017: Christmas Eve Morning
The last time I spent Christmas in Hawaii, I was 12 years old. My family and I lived in Kailua with my aunt at the time. We were in between moving from two cities. We lived in Oakland, California and we were about to embark living in Germany for a few years.
My aunt and her “wife” (this was a time in the 80s where two women living together were considered roommates, and not really wife and wife) were not used to having children around for the holidays. They didn’t know how to be festive or to succumb to all the holiday trimmings that are reserved for children at Christmas.
So, my sisters and I made the best of the situation by decorating the only living plant in the house. The indoor palm tree was decorated with ornaments. If the plant could talk it may have wondered why it was being put through such a torture.
Fast forward to today–32 years later. I was plucked from the traditions that I hold dear with my family during the holidays. I go all out with the holiday trimmings: Christmas trees in the big rooms, living room decorated from floor to ceiling, the front yard boasts a beautiful lit reindeer and a baby reindeer (also lit). This year, however, is different.
I woke up at 3:00 a.m. this morning because our family decided to hike Diamond Head in Oahu. A volcano that had been dormant for many years, and the last time I hiked it, I was 12 years old.
When we arrived at Diamond Head, it was still dark. Our goal was to capture the sunset. I hiked up that ridiculous path–ridiculous to me because I could have sworn I would pass out and die there. What kept me going was the idea that the last thing I’d want is to make the newspaper, “Woman from Alaska visiting found passed out and dead while hiking Diamond Head.” Mind you, many would consider the hike as a simple walk–for the rest of us, it was a hell hike.
I walked up the path with my iPhone’s flashlight making sure that I avoid any crevices that might snag my ankle, or any hole that I could embarrassingly fall in creating a hole in my leggings. It didn’t help that Diamond Head has now also become a tourist attraction. There were people lined up behind me in a rush to get to the very top. Some were showing off by running (you go ahead with your bad ass!), while others were panting like they just ran a marathon (I feel you, sistah/brotha).
The point was the goal or the madness: to hike to the very top before anyone else. Why? To lay claim to a spot that will provide access to the best sunrise. The madness did not catch up to me. I was more focused on catching my breath.
It was during a panting moment of the hike that a look out point presented itself. The small area allowed folks to take photos and then move on to the top. I used it to rest for a second, and then decided to trek onward. Until, I saw the tunnel that had a steep climb.
I gave that tunnel the middle finger, and walked back to the look out point.
It was there that I found a bit of clarity.
The sight before me was good enough. Under the Oahu dawn, the lights of Honolulu beamed like little gold coins against the blueness of the ocean. I parked myself away from the people that took advantage of the area to take photos. I leaned against a flat cement surface, and I looked out to Honolulu.
For a few minutes, I had the entire area to myself, and a visit from clarity came to mind. What is a hike when there is always a goal to get to–to be the first to the top to get the best views, to hike faster, or to just be. Perhaps, I was coming up with excuses as to why I decided not to go all the way to the top.
But, perhaps it was because in front of me was the sun about to rise and make its performance.
Perhaps it was the realization that I had the perfect place: there was peace, there was beauty, there was the ocean, and there was the sun rising.
And, perhaps, it was because there was a single moment that was meant only for me. I was reminded that my life (and you may also know this well) oftentimes is dedicated to many others that I forget that it also belongs to me.
So, there I was celebrating the morning of this Christmas eve by myself with a sunrise.
Not to worry, I didn’t look like a complete lonely loser. My darling son, and his girlfriend decided to hike back down and park themselves right next to me.
Everything was perfect as it was.
So. Wherever you are, whatever it is you may be doing, and whatever it may be that you are realizing—I hope you are celebrating your own version of Christmas eve.