Far from Home for the Holidays


Show of hands – how many of you have ever dreamt of spending the holidays in paradise; on a tropical island surrounded by crystal blue water?  I think it’s safe to assume nearly everyone has contemplated the thought at least once or twice.  With a week and a half off from school for Christmas and New Year’s I had the pleasure of experiencing “Christmas in paradise” for the first time.


My students brought some joy to the Christmas season.

“Paradise” has always been an interesting word for me.  Do a quick Google Image search for “paradise” and you will instantly be shown hundreds of pictures of ocean oases as far removed from the trivialities of modern life as can possibly be.  Some of the images are paint a picture of fictional lands.  This is the idea of “paradise” that has been driven into our skulls through various marketing campaigns and travel brochures.  The problem with this is that “paradise” is an experience more than a place.  The location only enhances the experience.

“Paradise” can be thought more of as a moment in time that is bettered by the variables in which it takes place.  This became readily apparent as I spent Christmas Day lying on the sandy beaches of Koh Tao and began contemplating whether this was truly fulfilling.  I was on a tropical island surrounded by water that would put a sapphire to shame but something was still missing.  It was until later that night that I had felt my travelling Christmas experience was complete.  And what did it take to make this day near perfect?  IMG_20151223_220113818A Skype call with my family back home.  It was that simple.  It wasn’t that I desired to be in the same location as them (I was on and island, I’m not crazy) but the act of spending a few minutes with them on a holiday that has fervently revolved around the family since I was a baby was so important to me and I think they would say the same thing.  So for me, “paradise” on Christmas Day included a quick chat with the people I loved from back home.  They truly are my crutch as I spend this period of my life so far away.

That being said I can also find “paradise” even if others are not present.  A few days later I found “paradise” again but this time it was in the quiet stillness that could be found 30 meters under the water.  The final two days on Koh Tao were spent exploring what lay beneath the surface as I attempted to complete my PADI Advanced Open Water Course.  Going back and looking through the photos of my exploration of Thailand I don’t think there is a single one where I am smiling as much as I was after my night dive.  There is a calm underwater that I have never encountered before..  It truly is an escape and was my “paradise” for two days.


Probably the happiest moment of my travels so far.

“Paradise” comes in many different forms and it is reliant on the person who is experiencing it.  Two individuals could be having the exact same experience at the exact same moment in time but it only be “paradise” for one.  Why is “paradise” so often depicted as a fictional locale with brightly lit colors?  It is because we never truly know what we are seeking until it smacks us in the face so we have to dream of it.  A moment in time is far more important than the locale.  It is attainable and each person is responsible for crafting their own “paradise”.  It could be a dive bar with your favorite local band playing, posting up by the fire with a good book, or even seeing the people you care about after being away for so long.  “Paradise” is not necessarily the picture that has been painted for us.


Though being on the highest point of a green-filled island overlooking the great blue wonder ain’t too bad of an alternative.

“Paradise” is unique to the individual and for me it typically comes in the form of a moment in time.  What is your paradise?  It could be a bonfire with friends, a simple coffee shop, or an engaging book.  Let me know in the comments below!

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Tar Heel Voyager



5 thoughts on “Far from Home for the Holidays

  1. Pingback: Good Vibes : Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love | Tar Heel Voyager

  2. I remember last year when I was traveling the world and was away from my family. On the evening of Christmas day as the sole diner in the hotel restaurant, watching the dark Laccadive Sea thrash in the night rain in Colombo. It was hard but somehow the memory of it all makes me smile. It’s surely something I’ll never forget. Keep on Voyaging my friend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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