The holiday season is, arguably, all about spending time with family; whether it's the family you were born into, the friends who have become your family, or the family you've created for yourself. I've never been a big fan of the holiday season but I am a big fan of spending time with the people who matter the most, which is why the last few weeks of December have always had a redeeming quality that keeps my Grinch-ness at bay. However, I won't be traveling to see family this holiday season, and my reasons why are more profound than the positives of being around a larger group of loved ones than just my partner and my son.
Now that I'm a mother and have a small family of three to call my own, traveling to see our distant family members has become even more important, not only to me but to my son's grandparents, uncles and aunts. There's just one problem: everyone is far away.
My partner, my son, and myself live in New York City, tucked away in a bustling city of over over 8.5 million. My mother still lives in Anchorage, Alaska (where I grew up) and my brother and his beautiful family of four live in San Diego, California. My partner's mother, brother, and father live in a small town in Wisconsin (where he grew up) and his brother also lives in Southern California. Then there are our grandparents (my son's great-grandparents) to consider, which are in South Dakota and Kansas. Our family is spread around the country and so very far apart from one another, which makes successfully enjoying quality time with extended family members difficult if not, at times, impossible.
So, this year, we decided we're going to stay put. We let our family members know that we weren't going to be traveling their way for the holidays and, understandably, they were a little upset. Because of the distance between us, they don't see our son very often, so the knowledge that they weren't going to be able to see him during Christmas or New Years either, was a difficult truth bomb to withstand. My partner and I have our reasons though, and when we explained them to both sets of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, everyone understood (thankfully).
Traveling During The Holiday Season Is Expensive
Between three airplane tickets and all the checked-baggage fees and the car rental and the eating out, traveling is just plain expensive. Add the amount of presents we bought for family members and, well, it all adds up. We can't tell our landlord that rent will be late because the airlines are glorified mob bosses so, skipping out on an expensive trip and staying home to save money was a no-brainer.
Traveling With A Toddler Is Hell
Confined spaces and a tiny toddler do not mix. Asking my 2-year-old son to sit still for four hours while we're strapped into a metal tube flying through the air is far from my idea of fun. He wants to move around and explore and he should be able to do all of those things, from the comfort of our living room.
We Wanted To Experience Christmas With "Just The Three Of Us"
We love our extended family and we are so very thankful for their constant love and support, especially since we've become parents. However, sometimes it is nice to spend holidays with just us. It might be selfish and I can't necessarily argue that it isn't, but sometimes I just want to sit with my partner and our son and enjoy their company. Only their company.
We Wanted To Start Our Own Family Traditions
Because we traveled to see family for our son's first Christmas, we weren't able to decorate a tree or make Christmas dinner or decorate our home. This year, because we are staying home, we have had the opportunity to start our own family traditions. We cut down our own Christmas tree and decorated it, while wearing onesie pajamas and watching holiday movies. We are going to make our own Christmas dinner, the way we want to, and establish what we plan on having every Christmas. Celebrating the holiday season with family is fun, but we are also unable to start our own, unique celebrations and, well, we deserve to do that, too.
We Get To Plan Our Own Schedule
It will be nice to not have to adhere to someone else's schedule. Because it will just be the three of us and all three of us live in the same place, we won't have to worry about getting an early start or timing our day so we can see everyone we are supposed to be and be everywhere we're supposed to go. Getting to plan our Christmas day for and by ourselves, will be so relaxing.
We Wanted To Be Lazy
OK, fine. We just wanted to sit on the couch and be lazy on Christmas. There, I said it. We both work very hard and the year is almost over and parenting is tiring and we are just exhausted. We are so very much looking forward to a stress-free, easy-going day where we don't need to be anywhere or really do anything.
There's Always Next Year
We'll drive ourselves crazy trying to please everyone every year, especially this time of year. We know that our families want to see us during the holiday season and that is a wonderful feeling, but we also need to be able to do what is best for us. We think that switching every other year — or even every other couple years — is a great compromise. We might not get to spend every Christmas with our extended family but, hey, there's always next year.