First off, Merry Christmas from our family to yours.
This is an open letter to family and friends who just do not understand why we choose to not travel home for the holidays. If you are in the same boat, I get it and you are not alone.
It never fails that every year, family members with great intentions ask us the same question “Will you be home for Christmas?” There really are many many many reasons for us not going home, which I will state here in a moment. But before that, let me just say that we are a military family, with six kids between the ages of eleven and two, and we live 3,000 miles away from “home”. I should also add that this is not meant to get anyone bent out of shape but merely A hope that they will understand why we have made the decision to not travel each year and will continue to make that same decision for the foreseeable future. That means even when we move in the next year and will be significantly closer to “home” we will not be going there for the holidays. So here are our reasons to not travel home for the holidays and why that is perfectly ok.
Travel Costs. Like I said, we have six kids. Any plane ticket from Eastern NC to Seattle you would have to multiply by eight. Sorry but I would much rather spend that money on other things that are less stress inducing than being in a plane for over half a day with six kids who get motion sickness like its going out of style. No thank you. On top of the air fare, there are fees for a rental car and gas for going from house to house to see everyone… like I said… with kids who get car sick. Nope nopety nope.
Stress. Both my husband and I deal with anxiety on different levels for different reasons. For me, being in a plane causes severe anxiety attacks. For him, being around large groups of people gives him anxiety attacks. It is not fair to our children if their parents are having anxiety issues leading up to and on a day that should be filled with wonder, fun, happy memories, and joy. We have large extended families. Both of our parents are divorced and have remarried and for the most part live near each other. So when we do go home it is simply a chaotic merry-go-round of going from house to house making sure to spend as much equal time with each side of the family to keep everyone from getting bent out of shape. On Christmas day this is no different and can be considered a type of hell for us parents and the kids get burned out quickly and end up not enjoying much of the day. This is not how I want my kids memories of Christmas to be as they grow up. I remember our first Christmas as a married couple and one of my Aunts handed me a bottle of Excedrin Migraine. I will never forget it. She said take one now, you can thank me later. I can’t remember if it was on Christmas Eve or day but oh was I thankful! For the few years following that we bravely ventured home for the holidays or lived near family and were obligated to go home I would remember her advice and feel thankful. I am still thankful for her help, and understanding that for adults Christmas Day starts with great intentions but can quickly turn into a frustrating day. Again… No thank you. We will happily enjoy a day of sleeping in, eating yummy food and unwrapping presents at a pace that suits us.
Health. I have six kids to keep healthy. Kids in general are little germ magnets. But put them on a plane and it brings on a whole different shade of germ opportunities. It’s not just them touching everything with hands and mouth. We are not used to the germs that are floating around on the west coast. So each time we have gone home in the past, at least me and my husband would get some sort of cold. No one wants to spend the holidays sick. So we get to avoid that issue by staying at home, having already conquered whatever bugs are floating around our local area.
Traditions. They are important to pass on. However we would like to not pass on a tradition of spending hours in a car. Going from house to house, wondering if we can get every gift shipped home. With frustrated parents who are tired and just want the day to get over with and avoiding whatever family drama is currently going on. We do however want to pass on traditions like decorating cookies for Santa. Going to Chinese dinner on Christmas Eve and afterwords driving around looking at Christmas lights on the way home. Sleeping in on Christmas morning. Having a late breakfast made by daddy like the ones he enjoyed as a kid at his grandparents house. Unwrapping presents and actually getting to enjoy them on Christmas day. Being thankful for those gifts and understanding who actually got those gifts for them. Not being rushed to do anything. Having a Christmas dinner at home like the ones I grew up having at my Grandparents house. Continue to watch the kids really enjoy the day. And finally pie, always the pie. My husband is a pie lover so this is probably the most important part of the day for him aside from breakfast. His wonderful Grandpa was a pie lover to say the least, and certainly passed his love for pie on to his grand kids and now great grand kids. I never really cared too much for pie growing up but you could say that my husband has been successful in making me a pie lover. So don’t be surprised to see a few pie pictures on Christmas day after the kids have gone to bed.
Now with the knowledge that we will be much closer to family next year, we will still not be going home. We are going to continue the stress free Christmas traditions that we have come to know and love as our own family unit. If any family would like to join us, they are always welcome. As long as they leave the drama at home, remember this is a time to make wonderful memories not stressful nightmares, and most importantly bring pie, lots of it!