It is the holiday season. We have made it through Thanksgiving, and now it is on to Christmas. Studies have shown that no matter how much we love and look forward to the holidays, they are very stressful. Your already-busy schedule has more shopping, planning, decorating, baking, wrapping, and social engagements than any other time of year. In addition to all of this comes the decision of whom you will share it with.
Growing up, my parents made the decision always to be home for Christmas. As children, my sister and I loved knowing that Santa could find us, we could enjoy all our gifts, and we could share our excitement with our friends during the vacation from school. All that would have been different if we had traveled two and a half days from our home in northern Virginia to our grandparents’ home in Texas. Our school vacation would have been over by the time we got back, our friends’ gifts would have been put away, and Christmas and all its trimmings would have been cleared out.
My husband and I made the same decision when our daughters were born. We would host as many family members as wanted to come, but we would not be traveling during Christmas. My parents were happy to make the trip from Florida—nothing like leaving sand and palm trees to get that cold blast of winter, but it’s hard not to be with your grands. My sister’s family came until their eldest was nearly three. They decided then that it was easier for Santa to find their home. It also meant our parents would begin the rotation of one year with us, the next with my sister.
I loved hosting Christmas! Having our daughters and sons-in-law with us, and occasionally my parents, was the best gift I could ever have. Of course, when our first grandchild was three, my daughter and son-in-law wanted to start their own traditions. I certainly understood this, as the “No travel on Christmas” was a generations-old plan. As the other two married, but before children came, we started the “One year at our home and the next with the grands.” We alternated with Thanksgiving, so it was going smoothly. Things changed when first our children moved, and then we did. Which brings us to last year.
Last year we moved to Wilmington where two of our daughters live. This would seem to be no problem, except for a slight hitch. There is nothing like watching the unbridled joy of a child finding the gifts from Santa. It is unfair to make them wait until you arrive. So, last year, although we got to be with both families here, it was after the fact. Even though we did see some of our grands last Christmas, it is hard trying to decide where to spend the holiday this year. For the two daughters who live here, they feel that they should each get the “Spend the night and wake up with your grandchildren” time. For them, they feel the out-of-towners get more visits. However, the daughter in the different city feels that we get to see and spend more time with our other grands. With two children, my parents had it easy. One year here, next year there. With most of our grandchildren within a year or two of each other, there aren’t too many more Christmases that will have that childhood innocence. For now, we have decided to start our rotation with the out-of-towners and begin a new tradition of “Here, here, and there.” As long as I am with family, I am happy, so it is a win-win for me!
I wish for all a Merry Christmas, and may this year and all the years to follow find you at the home where your heart is!