As a kid, I was the only one of my friends who had to travel to see family at Christmas. Most of my friends lived within a street or two of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and in some instances, great-grandparents. Neither of my parents was from the small town I grew up in, so we had our holiday in a variety of locations with an even bigger variety of family. Don’t get me wrong, most were spent at our home, but WHO was there was never really a standard engagement. I always saw it as exciting that we were different, but now as a parent, I wonder if I was missing something.
There is something to be said for familial holiday tradition. I’m sure there are comforting, warm and fuzzy feelings associated with knowing for absolute sure that every year Grandma’s going to make your favorite dessert or that aunt you never see is going to make you sing carols until you want to hide. I have no idea; it’s really speculation on my part.
A, our daughter, is still too young to understand the concept of Christmas. Next year, though, will be the first wonderous year where she ‘gets’ Santa, and we’ve set her up to have just the kind of holiday that I had. Neither my husband, W, and I are from the town in which we live, and we have no close-by family. With two sets of divorced parents, W’s family ranges from 1-1/2 to 7 hours away and mine is 9-10 hours away. Add in an aunt, uncle and cousins and that’s another 10 hours in the opposite direction. In fact, we’d have to travel to 13 states other than Connecticut to see all of our extended family; and that’s assuming they wouldn’t be traveling all over the globe to be with their families.
I doubt our family is alone in its expansion issue. Families are increasingly spreading across the country and the world for all kinds of opportunities. A Christmas that took place just 20 years ago is probably close to being archaic compared with the current times. With the skyrocketing costs of travel and advances in technology (Skype and Face Time, anyone?), as well as the many branches of the modern family tree, it’s almost impossible and/or cost-effective to be with everyone at one time. I won’t even go into the additional places we would have to add to the list if I added our step-families.
This year we’ll probably be spending the holiday with my brother-in-law’s parents. It’s easier for he and my sister-in-law to go there with their 3 year and 3 month old than to drive twice the distance from their location to my mother-in-law’s. I’m grateful his parents are kind enough to ask us to be a part of their day. Will A know she’s not home or at her grandmother’s? No. She won’t remember. Will she care? Probably not. They have a lot of room to run around in and she gets a chance to play with her cousin. But, yes, our Christmas dinner will be at the table of our modern family.
I need to start thinking about next year, though. Do we stay or do we go? If we travel, where to? Maybe I’ll just ask everyone to come to us. Who knew Christmas could be this complicated?
How about you? Do you travel long distances at the holidays, have family in the area or have everyone come to you?