Have you ever thought, in the middle of driving from family gathering to family gathering on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, wouldn’t it be great to just go away for the holidays?
That was us the last two years. We were toting our son around from my mom’s house to an in-law gathering and feeling tired, cranky and guilty. We felt the pull of both sides of the family and it was always a stressful series of back and forth phone calls and emails to figure out where and when we would see everyone. I planned a quiet Christmas breakfast for all of us that always ended up a rushed shoveling of food as we got the baby ready and all our bags of presents, side dishes and baked goods packed sorted for transport.
While what I mostly remember is great family time, watching my nieces and nephews put on a play, eating too much and watching movies, I still recall the driving, the hasty goodbyes and feeling like we just weren’t giving each side of the family, or ourselves, enough time.
In fact, the year before last Chris actually said, let’s skip this next year and go to Hawaii. We never ended up booking that vacation but the thought lingered.
And now we’re doing it. No obligations. No real plan. Just a lot of downtime and the three of us.
This wasn’t our first choice. We had planned to go back to Vancouver for two weeks and squeeze in as much family time as possible. The universe, and Customs Canada, conspired against us and we just had a two week unplanned visit to Vancouver in November instead.
Now we’re free as birds for the holidays. It’s exciting. And scary. I’ve never spent Christmas without my in-laws or immediate family. No sausage stuffing. No cauliflower puff. No cousin time for Henry.
We’ve decided to have a little getaway to mark the occasion and celebrate. We’re heading off island for some sights, to see some extended famil and spend a lot of time just the three of us. Here’s our plan:
Activities: walking, reading, watching movies, speed scrabble, sleep, enjoying city ambiance and possibly a Starbucks or two.
Gift Plan: Grandmas have now both sent large packages for Henry that will be opened when we return from our trip. Santa will be delivering stockings to us on Christmas Day filled with a few goodies. We’ve arranged presents for those that we exchange gifts with in Canada. Chris and I have agreed that this trip will be our gift to each other (which is great because I had no ideas on what to get him or anything that I wanted myself!).
Meals: we’re staying in a furnished apartment and I’ve already booked a Tesco grocery delivery for the day we arrive. To keep it simple, and stress free, we’ll have a special Christmas meal out on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Maybe we will have our own A Christmas Story Chinese Restaurant memory from this trip…..
It will be our first very simple and, hopefully, stress-free Christmas. I’m hoping this different approach takes the edge off any melancholy or homesickness. If not I have ordered a bottle of Bailey’s so that should do the trick. Kidding!
I’m still relatively new at managing extended family and expectations over the holidays. For those of you with a lot of family near by, how do you decided who to see and where to go over the holidays? Do you alternate years with sides of the family? Do you have tips for keeping it simple and enjoyable?
PS. Anyone in Edinburgh? Arranging a meet-up for coffee or tea while I am there. Any simple living aficionados that want to come are welcome. Email me and we will figure it out: the minimalist mom at gmail dot com.