Next week we head to California for the Christmas holiday. As is the case anytime we visit California, the holidays there will require time divided between Jim’s family and mine. Having both families less than two hours away is both a blessing and a curse.
I will admit that I recognize my family has been on the receiving end of our time more so than Jim’s. There are lots of reasons, but Jim and I decided this is how it would work.
After my sister and Paul had kids and bought a house, we now are torn between three locations. Christmas 2009 we dutifully spent 3-4 days in each location to make sure we covered them all and went home exhausted. That was not much of a vacation. We have since learned from that experience.
Splitting time is hard. How do you make the choice of where to spend the actual holiday? How many days do you spend in each spot? What factors do you use to make the choices?
This year we will be at Jim’s sister’s house before the holiday and then at my sister’s house for the actual holiday. We used to stay at my parents’ house but now that we are a family of four, there is simply not enough room. We feel bad about that, but we have to make the correct choices for ourselves and our family.
It hasn’t been easy for me to change the tradition of waking up Christmas morning at my parents’ house — the house I grew up in. It was at one time very important to me to wake up there. Now I feel that it is more important that all the cousins are together to open stockings and Santa gifts. The tradition for me was always about the joy of a child at Christmas, and the current traditions of my family should reflect that. So now we will spend Christmas Eve at my parents’ house and then return to my sister’s house to sleep and have Christmas morning. I look forward to incorporating that as a part of our new tradition. I will think of a fun activity that will make that day memorable for the boys so they will start to look forward to that part at Yaya and Papa’s.
Making changes to family traditions is not easy. But if it is done with thought, logic and care perhaps the new traditions will end up even better than the old. Doing something just because it has always been done a certain isn’t worth doing if it comes at the expense of the experience.
I am looking forward to a stress-less and fun-filled holiday with both sides of the family. One that includes good food, great wine and lots of laughs.