It’s November, and we all know what that means. You only have to turn on your TV or walk into Target if you need to be reminded that the holidays are coming. Toy commercials started running on Halloween, and Christmas themed M & M’s moved in before the black and orange ones moved out.
I discovered a few years ago that I love to travel at holiday time. And I don’t mean the “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s” kind.
For years, when my kids were little, we hosted Christmas Eve at our house and it was magical. My husband’s family converged on our house all bringing their babies, toddlers, and little ones. The opening of the presents was epic, with the kids thrilled at their loot, and Grandma and Grandpa looking on with a twinkle in their eye. It was all so simple and Norman Rockwell-esqe. The next day, after Santa and Rudolph had polished off the cookies and carrots we left by the fire, we did the same thing all over again, except this time with my family.
But then a few unexpected wrenches were thrown into our holiday plans. All in one year, in fact in the same month, both Grandma’s passed away. Both were way too young. We all carried on that year, but it was different. Then there were the divorces. Some of the happy families we celebrated with became not so happy and split up. Nieces and nephews were off visiting the other side of their family on Christmas Eve. Planning the holiday became complicated.
One year I decided our little family of five needed a change of scenery, so I booked a trip to Florida to spend Christmas at Disney World. It felt weird, because all my life Christmas Eve and Christmas Day had been spent with family, cooking hams, going to church, and hanging out. I worried a little about how the kids would react. Plus, there is no snow in Florida. How do people have Christmas without snow?!
But it was also very liberating.
We packed our own little Christmas pack complete with Charlie Brown Christmas tree, vinyl holly berry table cloth, and strings of holiday lights. We visited ceramics shops to paint ornaments, stuffed our animals, and made sure to remember our worn copy of Twas the Night Before Christmas.
I realized you don’t have to celebrate in a prescribed way for it to be real. You can be riding Space Mountain, or in a wave pool in Wisconsin Dells, and it can still feel like Christmas. Like an exhilarating, heart pumping version of the holiday you already love. And to my surprise, you don’t even need snow!
Lest you misunderstand, we didn’t give up on family altogether. We now hold a New Year’s Day brunch at our house. There are fewer conflicts with people’s plans, fewer emotional triggers, and more lighthearted fun. It works for us.
Do you travel with your kids over the holidays? Where do you go? I’ve love to hear your stories.