It only took our very first holiday as parents to make the decision that we would never again attempt to visit every family member (within driving distance), on every single holiday. Piper (my then newborn) was two weeks old, and her very first road trip to my parent house was to celebrate Thanksgiving, an easy-peasy 4.5 hours up the street.
Except an ice storm rolled into town unexpectedly, and that 4.5 hour trip ended up taking the better half of 9 hours. 9 hours of white knuckling the steering wheel, carefully inching our way down the highway with a newborn. One eye on the road, as the other kept glancing over to the highway embankment, where we watched time and time again vehicles spin out of control, ending up stuck in the ditch for the foreseeable future.
And while we desperately wanted to visit our family and show off our new baby, we vowed that we would never again risk such weather related conditions just to get home for the holidays.
We were parents now. Let the hard decisions begin…
These days, we’ve grown really good at saying “no” to excessive traveling from one place to another with our children, especially with baby Paul.
Don’t get me wrong, we still travel, but we travel to one location and stay put for the entire holiday. No spending the morning at one party, only to hop into the car to make it to the next gathering a couple hours away.
We’ve gotten into a routine, and we now primarily spend Thanksgiving with my husbands family, and then Christmas with mine. At first, I think there might have been a few hard feelings about making the decision to chose one family over the next. But over the years, they now understand and respect our decision.
Because when I truly reflect on what my ideal Thanksgiving or Christmas look like, it isn’t rushed, instead it’s very leisurely and relaxed. We’re not scarfing down one meal, just to get to another. And we’re not forgoing bedtime and more importantly nap times in order to see every last one of our relatives. My perfect holiday is relaxed, it’s enjoyed outside of our minivan, and it’s spent spending quality time with my husband and four children.
This decision to slow down and not even attempting to be everywhere at every moment has been one of the best parenting decisions I’ve made. Sure, it takes a bit of getting used to, and you might ruffle a few feathers in the process, but the feeling of reclaiming a slower pace has been completely worth it.
How about you? Do you split time over the holidays between relatives? Is it stressful, or do you relish in the rush?