Do you travel for the holidays? Do you have any holiday traditions with family? Are they your own or were they adopted from previous generations? After Corey and I got married, we ALWAYS traveled for Thanksgiving and Christmas. ALWAYS!! There was never a question. We made it a point to alternate holidays with our families since they were an hour and a half away from one another. So, if we spent Thanksgiving with my family, we would spend Christmas with his. And, vice versa. We did that for many years. Actually, 9 years. We did it with 4 children and living in 4 different states. Yes, we would drive 10+ hours with 4 young child. For Christmas, we would pack up all of their gifts and 5-6 suitcases and hit the road. There were years we were away from home for 2 weeks. Can you imagine how crazy that was? Plus, we had to get all the gifts back home too. In 2010, that all change. That was the year that my grandmother died. That was also a few weeks before Corey lost his father. 2010-2011 proved to be a very tough year from us. Not only had we lost 2 very important people in our lives, but we had also just relocated to Ohio, the farthest we had ever lived from family. Although we both grew up in SC, we have lived in NC, GA, OH, and now AL. Corey accepted the offer (for the job in Ohio) the day after my grandmother’s funeral. In that year, (and I know it has everything to do with my grandmother’s death), we decided to make our own traditions.
We were no longer going to pack up our kids and travel for the holidays. We had a beautiful rental home, a beautiful Christmas tree and a fireplace, with an amazing view of snow outside of our window. Why would we leave our winter wonderland to sit in the car for hours and live out of suitcases for 14 days? The first year we did that, it was “different”. I think we were all a little sad. After the excitement of opening gifts wore off, we longed for our extended family. But guess what? It got better. Change it’s always pleasant in the beginning but it can be. So, we started inviting family to our home for the holidays. Some years, we would have extended families and sometimes it was just us…and it was ok. Last year, we did something completely different. We opened presents on Christmas Eve and boarded a flight that night to NYC. We stayed in Times Square with the kids. I still don’t know how we found such an amazing deal on a suite that we provide enough room for all 5 of us. And, such an amazing deal on airfare. It was the first time the kids had been to NYC. We did a ton of touristy stuff just for them. The best part—They had all of their Christmas money, so they literally shopped until they dropped. Corey and I got the satisfaction in knowing that we did that. I even heard one say, “This is the best Christmas ever!” Guess what? Our holiday season wasn’t filled with a bunch of stuff. It was filled with experiences. I truly believe my kids will remember their Christmas in NYC than ANY toy that Corey and I have purchased over the years.
When you are deciding on your holiday plans this year, consider the experiences and not the presents. You don’t have to eliminate the presents all together, but your memories and experiences will outlast any present that you can buy anyone. Whether you are able to travel far or near, think about what you can do to make this holiday season extra special for your family. Always remember, it is YOUR family. You are entitled to make your own traditions, create your own stories. You don’t have to borrow those from generations before you. Again, change is good. It may not feel like it in the beginning but with time, you’ll come to love the changes that you made for you family.