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.
We actually love going home and love spending time with our loved ones there.
It isn’t that we have a bad relationship with anyone there, although that WAS the case for many years.
It was actually the reason we first started avoiding holidays with family.
Now, we have four kids of our own, have mostly repaired the damaged relationships with family as time has passed, but our stance on holidays remains the same.
No, we won’t be coming home for Christmas.
Well let’s unpack this a little bit.
I Hate Holidays
First of all, I married a Scrooge.
Only in recent years at my urging has he made a real effort to stop hating the holidays and make an effort to enjoy them.
After doing a lot of emotional digging, I finally got my husband to figure out that the reason he hates the holidays is that he was a wrestler growing up.
He absolutely loved the sport, but with it came cutting weight.
He would sit upstairs in his room during Thanksgiving instead of eating dinner with his family.
The holidays became, in his mind, a day of doing without for a sport he loved instead of letting loose and enjoying the activities going on around him.
Also, his birthday seems to be cursed, but that’s another story for another day.
Suffice it to say that when holidays and birthdays roll around, my husband has always been wound like a top making family stress at the holidays more than he can tolerate.
Holidays with Dysfunctional Family
Like I said before, for years, we had a dysfunctional relationship with our families.
After trying to sort that out during our dating years and into our marriage, we finally decided to step away when I was pregnant with our second baby.
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.
Even the most emotionally stable families have stress and drama on holidays.
If you are somehow able to travel for every holiday, appease everyone (including your kids), and make it home on Christmas night without becoming a frazzled mess – you have my unwavering respect.
The fact is that it just isn’t that way for most of us.
Leaving the house to go to a playground is stressful, let alone dragging our kids away from their presents and Easter eggs.
When my husband and I were dating, we felt the pressure without even having kids.
Just trying to figure out ahead of time what time we could be when made us feel like we were failing everyone and we were miserable…and our families only lived an hour apart!
Finally, when we were about to get married, we made the decision to reclaim our holidays.
We would make it the expectation that we WOULDN’T be coming home for Christmas or any other holiday.
Not because we don’t love family time or our families in general – but because it’s freaking stressful!
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.
On Christmas, we spend our mornings opening presents with our little ones before sitting around to play with those toys for an entire day.
We do spend the holidays with our family. The family that we created together.
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.
Or create a day near the holidays that you will be around to celebrate.
Easter, Christmas, and birthdays don’t have to be celebrated on the actual day in order to feel special.
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!
Christmas Clutter - Prep for a Stress-Free Christmas Morning
Sunday 17th of February 2019
[…] more? Serving a dinner that was cooked mostly by crock pots and instant pots? Avoiding toxic family members? Or just decluttering before Christmas so you’re […]
Sunday 11th of December 2016
Funny my husband and I decided the same thing when we moved to NC. Besides the 6 hour ridiculously expensive plane ride, it's too stressful. We end up fighting because family has stressed us out so much that we've turned on each other. No thanks. I love the traditions we are making with our kids. And we love having low key holidays without the drama.
Wednesday 30th of November 2016
I can really appreciate your article. My husband and I decided to let go and live the best life we want to appreciate. I refuse to pretend. I want my final to be peaceful, loving, non convicting, and memories that make our hearts explode with love we can see and feel. God is great and it is awsome to find others that share our holiday goals. God Bless you and be encouraged.
Monday 21st of November 2016
Ugh, we were just discussing this! We went to my parents house Saturday for an early Thanksgiving. My family is exactly the opposite of how I want to raise my children.The environment stresses us all out, they are all impatient, loud, aggressive, etc. & at the end of the day, I find myself resorting back to that. I hate it. I seriously dread going there. I enjoy the fun moments, but they are so far and few between the other moments. My husband's family is just as toxic, except they are passive aggressive. Little comments, here and there. Acting as if they didn't say horrible and negative things about how we raise our children the whole year. Definitely not how I want my boys to view their families or how family is supposed to be. I try to envision when my boys are older with their families and those holidays instead. We only live a couple of hours away from both sets, so it's hard to figure out alternatives. Thank you for sharing! <3
Thursday 17th of November 2016
This was a great read! We just moved from CA to UT three months ago. We cannot make it out for the holiday season, we JUST moved here and are excited about celebrating holidays in our new home. I know that both grandparents are upset, their will be guilt trips thrown about, but I think my husband, my children, and I will benefit from enjoying a cozy Christmas at out new home. The feeling of obligation causes so much stress, I don't want to be responsible to other people's joy, unless it is my own kids! I thought when we moved that I would be visiting CA regularly and coming out for the holidays. Now that we are settled in I feel like I want to be here, at home and just visit maybe in the summer to see friends and family. It's an adjustment for sure, but I feel good about the obligatory feelings growing smaller and smaller with distance.