When we decided to take time off to travel, we knew we’d be making sacrifices, especially around spending time with family and friends. In particular, we knew we’d end up missing out on holiday traditions we’ve grown so accustomed to – Thanksgiving with friends in California, Christmas in Indiana surrounded by extended family, New Years with siblings in the snowy mountains of Colorado. Special moments that all have one thing in common: they’re spent with people we love.
As we began planning for our December and January travels we wondered where we would spent the Christmas holiday – in New Zealand, perhaps? somewhere in South America? in a hotel room or on an airplane or in an airport? We knew we’d have a happy, memorable day wherever we were, but we were both secretly a little sad about the idea of being so far away. So when we stumbled upon the idea of stopping in Hawaii to visit Jeff’s brother on our way from New Zealand to South America, we were hopeful and intrigued. And then when we discovered that our air travel would actually be cheaper if we planned our route this way, we were giddy with excitement.
Honolulu welcomed us with sunny skies and humid air on December 23, which felt funny to the two of us who’ve never spent the holidays anywhere even remotely warm. We traded our typical Christmas staples of sweaters, wool hats, and boots for flip flops, sundresses, and shorts. We replaced cozy mornings by the fireplace with walks on the beach. Still, we carried out the sole tradition that matters: spending time with loved ones, and it was wonderful to spend the week with Jeff’s brother, Ross, and his boyfriend, Antwan. (And we got to belt out Mele Kalikimaka all week – finally, years of my dad making us listen to Bing Crosby’s Christmas album on repeat paid off!)
On Christmas Eve we visited the Community College Farmer’s Market and picked up Ross’s favorite sandwich – a pho French dip from a Vietnamese food stand called “The Pig and the Lady.” We spent the rest of the day cooking, sipping homemade egg nog (which we all agreed would become a new tradition), and enjoying a lovely meal together.
We spent Christmas day in our pajamas relaxing, calling all the rest of our family, watching Christmas movies, eating leftovers, and playing Scategories.
Over the next two days we did a bit more exploring Honolulu. The highlight was certainly going scuba diving with Ross (he was one of the reasons we were so inspired to get certified)! We went out for two dives – one to a ship wreck where we saw sharks and giant sea turtles and one to a reef where we saw several species of coral and fish.
We found out some friends from San Francisco were also in town for Christmas, so we met up with them for drinks on Waikiki Beach.
And we took a hike at Kuli’ou’ou Ridge, where we took in the most spectacular views of Honolulu, Diamond Head, and the Pacific Ocean.