Sometimes the best thing is to stop and think about what would benefit you and your family the most. As a recovering people pleaser, this time of year with the holidays really tests the growth I have made over the year. I love seeing my family and spending time with them whenever we get the chance. During the holidays everyone has a specific day and time they do their celebrating, so for years we would travel all over the state in a two day span making sure we hit all the spots. While making a ten hour road trip each year with small children, I quickly came to realize it was better for our family to stay home and celebrate the holiday together.
My first glimpse into our new tradition came when we had our second child. He graced us with his presence on Thanksgiving Day releasing me of any sort of control over the holiday schedule. We were now on his time, and then five weeks later he came down with RSV and had to be hospitalized for respiratory problems on Christmas Eve. With his health as a priority, we didn’t get to do our traditional Christmas traveling until later in the week when he was better.
Two years later, I was pregnant with our third child around the holidays. His arrival on December 29th seized all travel, meaning everyone had to come to us. It was nice hosting the holidays even if I was 9 months pregnant. What I found is that the kids really loved waking up in their own house and coming downstairs to see their stockings. It gave them the opportunity to relax and play with toys in their environment.
For me this wasn’t my kind of normal because I had traveled all over the state ever since I was a little kid with my mom. We lived 3 1/2 hours away from our closest family members so we always traveled up north to visit them. I never woke up in my house on Christmas morning as a kid so when my husband kept telling me that he wanted to stay home; I thought it was kind of weird. We didn’t make the change right away and continued traveling for the holidays for several more years.
Unexpectedly, we made a move out of state taking us eight hours away from everybody. The move itself proved to be hard to be away from loved one but it forced us to make traveling decisions that worked best for our family. I really do love spending time with our big, loud, crazy family but coming home for Christmas that first year was going to double our traveling time. Instead, we decided to do something completely out of character by spending the holidays in Disney World. When they say it is the most magical place on earth, it’s the truth. It was exactly the trip we needed as a family and we created memories that will live on in our children’s minds forever. Sure, we didn’t wake up in our house on Christmas morning, but we made a decision based on what was best for us and not what would make everyone else happy.
It turned out this vacation was the game changer that made me realize we were doing the traveling for other people and for me because it was what I was used to doing. The next year we were still down in North Carolina but we talked as a family and everyone wanted to stay home on Christmas. We got to wake up as a family, see the kids come down the stairs and get super excited about their presents under our tree. We built Legos together, we built racetracks together, we built robots together, played on new electronics together and really spent the day soaking it all in.
After having the holiday together, we then decided to take the next week as a vacation up to visit the family. We were able to slow down the visiting process and really get to spend time with people instead of feeling so rushed running from place to place.
It took me some time to realize that my old traditions were not going to work with our family and it was time to come up with our own traditions that worked for us. Spending the holiday together is what we need to decompress as a unit. We still love seeing our families, but now we do it on our own terms not getting sucked up into the hustle and bustle of the season. Yes, some people will be disappointed if you don’t make it to their house on the day they do everything but you know what sometimes it’s OK to say no in order to say yes to yourself.