When the holidays roll around, our friends are always asking my husband and I if we are “going home” to celebrate. This question has perplexed me for as long as I can remember.
What does it mean to “go home” when that involves a 7 hour car ride to where we’re from? Sure, Pittsburgh will always have a very special place in our hearts because that’s where we were both brought up. We met there. We had our first baby there. But then we moved to North Carolina and started a new life. Doesn’t that count for anything?
Should we just pack up and leave our house and all of our belongings every time a special day rolls around?
We don’t think so.
How to Avoid Family Dysfunction
Scotty and I have made it a point for years to actually avoid spending Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc. with family. I know, I know, it sounds harsh, and it is. We have a few great reasons and I stand firmly behind them.
First of all, almost everyone I know has some kind of war story to share after spending a few days with family. I completely support people who have strong, healthy relationships with their families who actually want to spend time with them.
We wish we had that too.
This just isn’t the case for my husband and I, unfortunately. Believe me when I say that when it comes to dysfunction, our families have all of the bases covered. Yet for years, we dreaded every birthday, every Easter, every Mother’s Day, and every Christmas season because we felt obligated to spend it with these people that have given us so little reason to allow them into our lives.
The holidays have always been filled with drama, sideways comments or insults, and guilt trips about not being around even more.
Spending hours in such an uncomfortable environment ended up making us dread the holidays.
When Scotty and I were still dating, we started traveling for every holiday to actually avoid the drama. We made tons of excuses. “We are so busy and don’t have any time off of work, so we have to travel on the holidays if we want to go anywhere.”
Finally, when we were about to get married, we made the decision to reclaim our holidays. No more lying about where we were going or who we were spending the holidays with. No more justifying why we didn’t want to sit in a pressure cooker environment for hours on our special days. We would actually enjoy our holidays. What a novel idea!
Now, if you come from a good family, you’re probably appalled at the idea of avoiding relatives on Easter or not spending Christmas morning opening presents with your family. If you have the kind of “family of origin” that my husband and I do, you’re probably jealous of our set up and wish you could overcome whatever obstacles are in your way of having the same holidays that we do.
What some people may not understand is that we do spend the holidays with family.
On Easter morning, Scotty and I will hide Easter eggs for our little boys.
On Thanksgiving, we’ll sit around talking about our family and how thankful we are to have each other. In fact, last year, we spent Thanksgiving in Orlando with our best friend and his family. We got to give our son the experience of a happy, non-dysfunctional large family gathering for his first Thanksgiving.
On Christmas, we spent our morning opening presents with our little one before loading up the car to go on another vacation to Florida to visit more friends and see those who are so important to us.
We do spend the holidays with our family. The family that we created together.
Our main reason for avoiding our families, especially around holidays and birthdays, is that we want our kids to have the non-dysfunctional family functions that we wished we had growing up. Scotty and I have worked hard to cultivate a happy, loving, respectful relationship that any kid would be lucky to grow up around.
We don’t want the obligation of family guilt to taint that.
If you have a great relationship with your family, absolutely spend your special days with them! Enjoy the moments you have with them, because life is just too short.
If you don’t have a good family or if your holidays are currently filled with drama, dysfunction, and dread, I encourage you to take a different approach.
Instead of feeling obligated to spend these precious moments with people who you may happen to share a last name or bloodline with, realize that life is short.
Moments are fleeting.
Spend your days, especially very special ones like holidays that you celebrate, with those that you truly love and who have earned a place in your life.
Be selective with your time and who you give it to. Time is the one resource we can’t replace.
You can make more money. You can buy new possessions. When time is gone, it’s gone.
Spend your holidays making traditions with those that you love and valuing the time you get with them. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Make the most of each and every moment and make it count.
Do you go back to your hometown for holidays? What changes have you made with your own family compared to the way you grew up? Let me know in the comments!