I don't know what to say, except that it's Christmas and we're all in misery.
Lately I’ve seen an article here or there making the case for a cozy little Christmas at home with just the immediate family gathered round. And I totally get it. The absence of busy airports or crabby kids on a long car ride, the avoidance of days of packing to go and days unpacking to get resettled at home, the potential for sleepless nights with kiddos not tucked into their own beds, and a litany of other headache inducing drama that goes hand in hand with a Christmas that involves extended family. Not having to deal with all that and more has big appeal.
But here’s the deal for me and mine. Christmas just isn't Christmas without all that. We’ve committed to spending Christmas with our extended family as long as possible, even though it’s sometimes outrageously difficult. Here’s why.
- For us, part of what is fun about the holidays is we relax and I don’t mean we sit with our feet propped up. We ease up on rules, we don’t fret about precisely implemented nap and bedtime schedules, and we let them eat dessert for basically every meal. It’s hard to be that loose at home.
- Being surrounded by a bunch of adults who love your children and have a familial responsibility for their welfare allows you and your partner to actually relax, feet propped up and all, for a while. Maybe you can even get out for a date without paid childcare, even if it is only to a dinky theater an hour away with a screen scarcely bigger than your living room set.
- I’m paying it forward. I’m making big deposits into the grandparent karma account in the hopes that when my kids are grown with children of their own, they will choose to spend their holidays with us. Tenuous I know, but can’t hurt to try.
- Obviously you’ve seen Christmas Vacation. Being one of my all time favorite movies ever, I just have to insert some of that Griswald-esque mayhem into my family Christmas or it falls a little flat for me. I’m just that kind of crazy.
- Our family is full of storytellers. Yes, I’ve heard some of the same stories too many times to count, but it is in the retelling that we feel connected as a family, that our children learn about those that came before them, and we internalize our place in this wide wide world. Many hours of our holidays are spent telling and listening to stories and we only get that when we gather round those that lived to tell them.
- I grew up thousands of miles away from my extended family. I had a very limited relationship with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. I promised myself that my kids would have what I didn’t and with Christmas, I’m making good on that promise.
- Finally and most importantly, we won’t have the chance to be with these loved ones forever. As someone who has experienced the loss of a beloved parent I know first hand the very real value of spending every bit of time together that you can. If we are fortunate, we will have many Christmas’s to come as an immediate family unit after they are no longer here to enjoy it with us. Until then, they can count on us at Christmas.
Image Credit: Me