By Takae Goto

It is a tradition in our family to observe birthdays with a short morning prayer before celebrating with food and friends. It’s an opportunity to thank God for my life, parents, and family who supported me through another year. As each year passes by, I find more appreciation when spending quality time with my parents. 

This year, I decided to skip the celebration and planned a hiking trip for my family on my birthday weekend. My mom has been nagging me to bring her along whenever I go hiking with my friends.

“The hike is too hard for you mom…I’m going with my friends…we’ll go next time with my family,” I would say to her. 

The time finally came. I planned weeks in advance: I asked my brothers to block out their schedule, searched for a good hiking trail, and checked up on the trail condition every couple of days. I picked a trail three hours away from home. It was somewhere I’ve been to before and the views were remarkable. 

Thursday came along and only a couple of days before our hiking trip, my brothers suddenly told me they couldn’t join and the trail was packed with snow from this past week. I informed my parents but we ultimately decided to hike on with the caveat that if it’s too packed, we can always head back down. 

It had been 10 hours of hiking…or so I thought at the time. 

During the hike, after we saw an overview of the lake, snow was packed to the point that we lost the trail. 

“Should we turn back?” I asked my parents. 

My parents and I started to turn back. We couldn’t find the trail so that’s all we could do right? But, after a couple of minutes of walking, we found the trail again. 

“Should we keep going or turn back?” I asked my parents again. 

“Well, since we found the trail, let’s keep on going,” my mom answered. 

This was our turning point and we decided to hike on. What I thought would take 10 hours actually took us 16 hours in total. The extended time allowed us to talk more, laugh more, and be grateful for the present moment with my parents. Of course, we took more photos too. 

It’s been quite rare to have time with my parents but I hope during the thanksgiving and holiday season, it can be an opportunity for families to gather and make time for each other. It can be a whole day-long hike, a warm dinner, or a phone call.

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