Andi's post about wishing she could stay home for Christmas really resonated with me.
Last year, after the second year in a row of traveling from New Jersey back home to Texas for Christmas, my husband and I looked at each other and declared that we must be crazy. We have two young children, and, by the time we tallied up the costs of travel (even though we had help with that part), shipping presents there (and back! $300!), and the stress of getting out of and then back into our routines at home... we just decided that it was too much. We informed our families that we would no longer be traveling for Christmas.
I spent almost all of the Christmas preparation time getting ready to travel - packing up gifts, suitcases, shipping stuff ahead of time, etc, etc. - and very little of it actually enjoying my little family. One day I looked up and realized that my actions weren't lined up with my priorities. I want my little nuclear family - my husband and our two precious children - to know that they are my priority. Rushing around getting ready to travel didn't feel like I was showing them that. I became irritable and stressed, and generally not fun to be around.
One commenter on Andi's post, Kathleen, summed it up perfectly:
As I told each of my boys during our dance at their weddings---"forsaking all others" means your birth family, including your parents, and building a new family & what works for that new family is of primary importance. Putting the two of you as central to your relationship is the only way to make it work for the long haul. So far, we are at 38 years and counting--so good luck to you. BTW--my boys tell me that they appreciate so much that they were always able to be in their own home on Christmas, follow our own routine and enjoy the day as family.My reasons for not wanting to travel really boil down to exactly this. My children will be moving every three years for their entire childhood. They won't have the "classic" memories of waking up in the same house every Christmas morning. So, I want to establish our own traditions. I want them to have things that they can both look forward to now, as children, and then later look back on as adults. No matter what house, state, or country we live in, I want them to have traditions that they can pass along to their own children.
For the first time this year, we have embraced the Elf on the Shelf. My kids love him! I haven't done it before because it just seemed like one. more. thing. to add to the List of Too Much to Do. But, since we're not traveling, I've had plenty of energy to invest in things like this!!
Also, for the past few years, I've let my children open one gift on Christmas Eve, right after dinner... and it's always new pajamas. I'll admit that this one is partly selfish. I want them to look cute for Christmas morning pictures! As I was wrapping them this year, I told my husband that I'm looking forward to the day, ten years from now, when the kids get their Christmas Eve package and wryly say, "Oh. Em. Gee. Our Christmas Eve gift. Whatever could it be?" But these are the kinds of traditions I love.
I'm missing our extended family, but I can honestly say that, so far, staying put this Christmas is one of the best things we've ever done. Christmas time has been so much more Merry for us, remembering some traditions and having time and energy to establish new ones for our precious kiddos. What kinds of fun traditions do you have?