How I (Almost) Ruined Christmas in Maui

How I (Almost) Ruined Christmas in Maui

**Quick Note about this post: I recorded it while making a smoothie, then transcribed it later! Super helpful to get my ideas out (I’m more of an out-loud verbal guy). And at the end, I offer the recipe I made that day!

Settle in and enjoy the next 2000 words…


oh no!


There are days when I am insensitive, a jerk, and I totally lose my sh*t.

One of those days happened to be Christmas.



Let me explain…

There’s already a lot riding on that day, there’s a lot of pressure built up, whether it’s family or gifts or traveling or food prep—just a lot going on that day.

So for a lot of people, tensions and emotions can run high at Christmas time.

Now for me and my family, we all happened to be on Maui (an island I had never been to), and I brought my family out there, my mom and my brother, who had never been to any of the islands.

My mom had the mindset that she didn’t know when she would ever get out to Hawaii. She had grown up and lived in Massachusetts her entire life, and Hawaii just wasn’t part of her reality. But I figured out how to do it, with the flights and points, etc.

So we did it. We went.

It was a slice paradise because here we were on the north coast of Maui, in this private cottage.


I had built up a lot of pressure in my head, and I wasn’t really aware of it.

I really needed them to enjoy this trip. I was pre-stressing that this needed to be a really great experience for them, so as a result, I was very sensitive to any displeasure and/or complaining because in my mind, it was like “look at where we are! can you believe this?”

I was a little on edge because of that—I so wanted them to enjoy this trip.

Now all the complaints were about little inconvenient things, like “yeah, that sucks” or “that’s kinda stupid,” or “why is this like this?” Certainly not things that were substantial concerns, but you know, not the stuff (I thought) we really need to complain about. We could look past this, right?

Well, that didn’t happen.

So I was starting to get really frustrated because I would just look around and think:

“We’re in Paradise! Think of the millions of people who will never get to do this.

Even for the people that *could* actually do this, so many of them will never actually see it through, they’ll just never make it happen. And then forget about the people that something like this, this isn’t even a reality—they probably can’t even fathom their family going, like a family in a developing country going to Maui for the week of Christmas and having a private cottage on the north coast and going ziplining, hiking. There are so many millions it doesn’t even cross their mind that this is something they’d do.”

This isn’t to be mean, it’s just not a reality for some people, it’s not something they spend time thinking about or planning—they are too busy walking to get clean water.


And so on Christmas morning, I lost my shit.

Like with many arguments, you look back and you don’t know how the hell it started. I’m sure it was something minor.

But I was just like, “that’s it.”

I just went off:

“How can you complain about this? Look at this paradise we’re in!”

I think I was really saying:

“How dare you complain and bring that negative energy into this space, into this family vacation, this trip, this magical place that you thought you’d never come to?! I did so much work to bring us all here, to keep us on track, to do this, and this is the energy you show up with?!”


So needless to say (but I’ll say it), that did not go over well.

Sure enough, there were tears. And I felt bad, of course.

My objective was not, certainly on this trip, to make people have a horrible time, it was anything but.

But that’s what I created because I had put so much pressure on myself to make sure that they had such a great time that any deviation from that just stressed the hell out of me.

I was so nervous that my mother might not have a good time because it would be a very different kind of trip: she had never been to Hawaii, we wouldn’t be in a hotel, we were going to be in this cottage, which was on a solar grid, and the power went out at night, but for a very short time.

Apparently, she had been stumbling around in the dark to find her way back to her room on the first night. My brother and I had already gone to sleep, and I had no idea about this. So it was a little jarring. What a way to start a tropical vacation, right?

From her perspective I totally get it.

She was probably expecting a different kind of scenario, or those kinds of inconveniences wouldn’t happen, whereas, because of all my travling, I look at that stuff and it’s hilarious: “oh ok—now we’re in the dark. Whatever. The TV is off, I guess we’ll just go to bed or talk or whatever.

But that’s my experience, that’s what I bring to the table, and it’s not fair to push this onto others.


So obviously it was a rough morning.

Thank god my brother was there. He and I have not always seen eye to eye and we’ve had our tussles, but he is exceptional at understanding and I think he could see my point of view, and he could see my mother’s point of view.

His bottom line was: how can we have a really great time?

And it wasn’t an immediate, snap of the fingers and everything was back to normal. My mother wanted to share some of her thoughts and I wanted to share more of my thoughts in a calmer way.

What she said was valid: maybe I didn’t really appreciate her perspective or where she was coming from. Because of my self-development path, it’s almost like I have no patience for people not doing what I’m doing. (It’s like trying to *change* others—good times, right?! ;)

I certainly do not like to be around people that complain. It’s just like “what is the POINT?”

To me, there is no benefit to complaining. You can certainly point out things that are not cool, but it’s more “how do we solve this?” or “how do we make this better?” But to just complain about it, that to me is just so pointless.

I have very little patience for complaining because that’s not where I want to be in my life, and as usually happens with family, you tend to treat them differently, you hold them to different standards, and they push your buttons differently. All that fun stuff.


I was definitely doing that—and it’s not fair to them. I refused to allow my mother to complain about something; that to me is like the worst thing in the world, like how dare she!?

She felt like I didn’t really respect or appreciate where she was coming from as an individual, as someone who has gone through what she’s gone through, her life experiences, the challenges she’s overcome, how she has grown as a person. Was I really giving her credit for that kind of stuff?

Whereas I wanted her to be where I *think* she should be, and I’m not giving her credit for what she has done in her life—you know, like being a single mother and raising two boys, who are both doing pretty well in life. We’re not complete fuck-ups. :)

She does deserve a lot of credit.


So there was a number of things going on there—I was way too hard on myself and I was way too hard on her.

I had just built up the pressure of this trip way too much in my head. There were a lot of tears, and we really had to talk through some heavy-duty stuff.

Christmas morning was probably not the ideal time, but when is?

It was just like “well, we’re all here, and this is what is coming up. We could either ignore it completely, which I really hate to do, or we could talk about it and figure it out and figure out where do we go from here.”

And we did.

And the day was salvaged. We went out, had a good afternoon, drove around, and the rest of the week was really good.

It was a really great experience.


But our story doesn’t end there…

Christmas evening, everyone was asleep in the living room.

There was a movie on, and out of the corner of my eye, I see this giant mouse roaming around the kitchen, and I think “oh Christ (irony!)—if there’s one thing we don’t need to add to this situation, it’s a giant freakin’ mouse.”

I was sitting there praying that my mother wouldn’t wake up and see him.

I was able to get him outside, but of course he showed up the next morning and frightened my mother. And that was also the morning where she found this enormous spider.

It was really big—it wasn’t attacking or anything, but it was seriously big, objectively speaking.

Take a look…!


Better call John Goodman!


So after the whole mini-splosion, there were those two critters “infesting” the house, but we were out in the country, and that stuff happens. Understandably, she was not a fan. So more hilarity ensues on a life level: it’s just like, “oh my god, this is ridiculous.” :)

The property managers were so sorry that all these creatures terrifying my mother, saying that they know she didn’t come out here to be tortured by this stuff on her vacation. The mom in the house, she was the same way: whenever she sees this stuff, she calls her sons!

Through it all, I am really thrilled that I took them out to Maui for Christmas.

Again, it’s something that my mother never thought she would do. I imagine my brother, at his age, would get out there at some point. He’s only in his early 30’s, and he lives in LA—he’s so close, and it’s so easy to get to Hawaii.


Now get this: my mother has even said how I really made the trip, because of how comfortable I was on the island, how much of a tour guide I was.

Ironically, I kinda saved the trip, because of how easily I could get us around, despite that was my first time on Maui; it seemed like I had been there before many times. That was her take away. That’s what she’s told her friends about the trip. Pretty cool, huh?


Nathan the shirtless tour guide!


I definitely would have regretted it more if we were the kind of family (or I was the kind of person) that just brushed the argument stuff underneath the carpet, so that it was contantly simmering and boiling and infecting everything we did.

You need to get that stuff out. Sure it’s going to probably result in some uncomfortable, maybe painful, full-of-tears conversation, but I think you gotta do it.

I think everyone will be happier and healthier because of it, as you’re not sitting on that energy.


Love you Mom!

A happier Maui moment...


And here’s the smoothie I made when I recorded this story:

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ Cucumber
  • 1 Pear
  • Bunch of Parsley
  • Bunch of Cilantro
  • Mint Leaves
  • 3 ribs Celery
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Scoop of Ground Flax Seed
  • Handful of Frozen Pineapple Chunks



Yes, despite all my meditation, exercising, nutritionizing and such, I am still quite capable of having very “off” days.

Guess it’s why I’m doing this work, right?

Not that I ever think I’ll be perfect, but more so that I can develop the tools to catch this “off” stuff quicker in the future and turn things around before they go south!


Almost ruin any of your trips or holidays? How’d you turn it around and what did you learn?

I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.


Looking forward to learning more!




Former life: actor/office worker/virtual assistant; lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Since then: sold nearly everything, took a $5 flight to Hawaii, lived there for 3 months, wrote an eGuide about all of it, and still traveling. Currently: digital nomad - looking to improve myself, have fun and serve others.

2 comments on “How I (Almost) Ruined Christmas in Maui
  1. Kendal says:

    So much to relate to, even though I haven’t taken my family to Hawaii (yet? I don’t know, they’re afraid of flying).

    I remember visiting my family not long after my (ex)fiancé’s daughter had died. My dad and my college-aged brother (who we were picking up from college) were having some minor disagreement about boxes or stopping at Walmart or something that was getting blown way out of proportion, and from the backseat I just burst out at my dad that “some people would be glad that their kids are alive! Some people won’t be able to pick their kids up from college at all!” Which stopped the fight, but didn’t make my dad happy because he thought… well I don’t know what he thought. Not what I wanted him to think, since I don’t recall any apologies (this was about 6 years ago).

    I understand both sides of your story. Sometimes I’m in your mom’s place and sometimes I’m in yours. Sometimes I’m in the “look where we are! Look what we’ve got! Shut your mouth!” mode and sometimes (too frequently in France, I admit…) I’m in the “gah, why is everything so frustrating, why is it so small, why are there so many stairs, where’s the hot water?” mode and there happens to be an “enlightened” friend around to nag me about it.

    I think it’s easy to think “come join me on my journey, eat this awesome food! Meditate! Make yourself a better person!” I still totally think it about so many people, including my family. But then I have the friend nagging me to toss all my belongings and quit Facebook… ah. lol. I’m slowly learning that the best I can do is learn and grow and lead by example, and other people will learn and grow when they’re ready….

    It’s hard. :-)

    • Nathan says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Kendal. I really enjoyed reading about your experience and perspective. And yes, it is hard. :)

      I was TA’ing a class today (on Love!) and was reminded of this piece of advice (would have been *really* helpful to hear this the morning of Xmas, haha)…

      “Anytime you are pointing the finger at someone else, “you are being this way,” there are 3 fingers pointing back at you, and you’re thumb is pointing up to the highest version of yourself.

      “Attend your own lectures. What you find annoying in another person is part of you, too. What gets us most frustrated, it’s the stuff that we haven’t truly integrated.”

      I know that I’m still working on being critical and judgmental, so I tend to be super-sensitive to this in others, and yeah, it triggers me. I believe once I have fully integrated that behavior, it’s not going to have the same effect on me, it won’t bother me anymore (or hopefully, not nearly as much).

      Of course, remembering that it’s ALWAYS more about me than the other person is important, too. Let’s say I was super happy-go-lucky on Xmas morning; well then my mother’s comments probably would have just seemed funny. But nope—I was feeling stressed about something, and so I went in a negative direction with it all. The event was neutral; I was the one who gave it meaning.

      And on we go!

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