Before starting your family, you probably pictured peaceful holidays, lounging by a fire (there’s ALWAYS a fire in our imaginations), maybe reading a great book while the kids played peacefully and your spouse entertained themselves some kind of way. The fire roared long into the evening, and the giggle of children faded away into bedtime, while you watched that same adoring spouse doze off, dreaming of the blissful day you all spent. “This”, you’d think as you closed the volume on your lap, “is exactly how every day should be.”
What a beautiful and completely unrealistic fantasy. Let’s get real about how Christmas usually goes for the busy family. The kids are super excited and you stay up later than you’re supposed to wrapping presents that should have been wrapped ages ago. Your dog takes a penchant to one of the patterns on the paper and chews the corner of a package. Lastly, remember that beautiful vision in your mind of where you were going to be for Christmas? You were home! What on earth made you think it would be that simple? One of the biggest questions every holiday is where on earth you’re going to be for the holiday. Home sounds great, but you have friends and family who are expecting to see your cheerful face and your kids. How do you decide whether you’ll be accepting invitations or hanging stockings by your chimney with care? Ask yourself a couple questions to decide.
How do you like your holidays?
First things first. Do you even like big holidays? Think before you answer. Lots of people enjoy a good time spent with family, surrounded by relatives who they haven’t seen in a long while. For a lot of us, times with our extended family is usually reduced to a like on Facebook and a quick hug at a funeral. We always claim we’ll do better about getting together, but we never seem to find the time. If you want to make good on your vow to gather, here is the time. Having said that, sometimes after being out and about all season, you just want to sit on your comfy couch and enjoy what you work year-round to afford: your house, and your family. Neither one is wrong, just think about it before you agree to either.
Who’s doing the inviting?
Before you even think about accepting an invitation, you gotta take into account who is giving it. Is your host able to throw a fantastic party, regardless of who shows up? Many of us don’t live close to our families, so making the voyage isn’t an easy feat. Are you going to get there and find no place to sleep, and a bunch of folks you don’t enjoy dealing with? If so, the answer may be to stay at home. However, if you know you’re going to get there and be tucked into a comfy corner of the house, with great food and conversation, it is well worth the venture out of the house. Know which relative you’re going to be with and what to expect before you start booking travel plans.
How well do you travel as a family?
Take well into account the way you all travel as a family before you begin putting in the work to go anywhere. If the last road trip was a horror you all barely survived, do you really want to end up on the naughty list by attempting it again? As children grow, they become easier to travel with. When our babies are young, they require more TLC in order to travel. That means you are going to need bathroom breaks, plenty of snacks, and entertainment. If the voyage isn’t far, go for it! If you think you may end up resenting it, don’t go. It really is that simple.
Don’t let your dream of a white Christmas turn into a nightmare. If you want to go celebrate with the family and enjoy yourselves, traveling is well worth the while. If peace and quiet are what you prefer, don’t be afraid to decline and send yuletide greetings instead. There is no right or wrong way to do this holiday, so weigh it out, and enjoy whichever way you committed.