Why We NEVER Travel During The Holiday Season

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The first year that my husband and I were away from our families for the holidays — he was a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina — we decided to travel back home to Jacksonville. We drove over 400 miles there, and the 400 miles back, to be with our families for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter… and it was awful.

We would spend the duration of the holiday scrambling, making sure we spent a sufficient amount of time with everyone. It was never enjoyable. We couldn’t actually savor the time with our families, let alone get a moment to relax. It didn’t take long for us to decide that we were never going to travel for the holidays again. We stayed put in North Carolina, and anyone who wanted to come to us was welcome.

Now we’re back in our hometown of Jacksonville, but the rule still stands. We celebrate the holidays at our house, and even though our families live here, we don’t want to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas running all over the city to make sure we see everyone. Talk about exhausting!

There are several reasons we feel this way. First, it’s simply not worth the stress. We have four children! Do we really have to put ourselves through the trouble of packing up the kids multiple times a day to go see everyone, coordinating with nap times, making sure we bring toys and snacks and diapers and wipes and God knows what else? Heck no! On Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, we stay put, and our door remains open. If anyone wants to see us, they are always welcome — and believe me, it’s so much easier this way. If the kids get tired, they can just take a nap in their own beds. If they get bored, they have all their books, toys and games to entertain them, or they can run around in their own backyard. We have everything we need to take care of them right here, and we don’t have to worry about packing a ton of supplies to cart around from house to house.

hnck0001But second, and more importantly, I feel strongly that we need to be able to make our own family traditions, and we can’t do that if we are always going to someone else’s house for the holidays. I want my children to grow up eating a Thanksgiving meal that their mother cooked for them. I want them to have memories of going to Thanksgiving Mass as a family, of playing football in our own backyard, of watching the parade together, making a thankful tree, and countless other family traditions that will be created throughout the years. I don’t want them looking back on their childhood, never being able to remember sitting around their own table, enjoying Thanksgiving dinner in their own house.

Likewise, I want them to open Christmas presents underneath their own tree. I want them to remember going to Midnight Mass at our parish, drinking hot chocolate in their Christmas pajamas, watching Christmas movies and enjoying the presents they received at home. I want them to marvel at the Advent wreath and to have memories of Christmas underneath their own roof.

I don’t want my children to grow up with no family traditions of our own that we’ve created together. I don’t want them to grow up and only have memories of spending the holidays at someone else’s house. So we stay put for the holidays, making our own memories and building our own traditions — and it works. The holidays are no longer a stressful event to be endured. Now, I look forward to them each and every year.

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5 Responses to Why We NEVER Travel During The Holiday Season

  1. Alison Dec 9, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    Love this. We are also a retired Marine family that was stationed in Camp Lejeune. Even though my family was in GA, it was a 7 hr drive. Now we are in Texas and we do the 2 day drive twice a year to see family and since both my parents are divorced and remarried, that makes it harder. My in-laws are 5-6 hrs away still.

  2. Shelby Dec 10, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    My husband is navy (active) and in the six years we’ve been married we’ve only traveled home to Starke and Lake Butler (small world, huh?!) once for Christmas – never for Thanksgiving. We were in Charleston the year we went home and only had the first of our three kids. All other holidays have been spent in either New York, Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, or California. Honestly, though, I wish we could go home for every holiday. We make our own traditions now because we can’t go home, but they don’t hold a candle to our childhood holiday memories of being at grandma’s house with our closest aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was loud and sometimes chaotic, but we were never bored and certainly never alone. Whether we stayed inside, sat on the porch outside, or joined a ball game we were surrounded by family who loved us. We have plenty of memories eating home cooked meals around our own tables, but the ones we long to relive are holidays with our now grown cousins who have kids of their own.

  3. Jennifer Casazza Nov 12, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    I did the same thing. We were tired of traveling to everyone else. Others rarely ever made the drive to see us so why did we need to sit in the car on the holidays. Once we agreed this was our family rule the holidays became 100% better for our family.

  4. Dana Nov 12, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    Yes and no. I enjoy seeing family and I’d wvweyone has this rule, we’d never see anyone and well life is too short to make grandma choose sometimes. I live our tradition as a kid of going to see family in Tennessee. Just be careful to remember others. It’s so easy to focus on what makes us work less, but compromise and lots of family are amazing!

  5. Abby Nov 20, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    Don’t write an article trying to justify your laziness. When I was a kid we had two of every holiday. One with extended family the weekend before, and one at home with our own family on the actual holiday. Guess which I remember? “Making your own traditions” sounds sweet in theory, but I feel like it gets used a lot as an excuse for laziness. Make the effort. Show up. And if you can’t be bothered to leave the house, host a big party at your house. No house is ever too small for family. I’m fortunate to be part of a latino family as an adult and holidays with my latino side feel like home. My boys relish in the chaos and excitement of too many people, and at 2 and 5 they’ve become expert little travelers. Life is hard, but we never just throw in the towel. Have we really become such a culture of convenience that we can’t even get together with family for the holidays? That is heartbreaking.

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