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Unlike in decades past, many families no longer live near their extended families. Many of us live thousands of miles apart because of careers or lifestyle choices making it difficult to decide what to do when it comes to the holiday season: should you stay home with your little family or pack up and head back to your home state? You want to spend the time with the people you love, but is the stress of it all worth the effort?
The short answer: yes.
Is it stressful? Yes. It is worth it? Absolutely.
Of course, there are several reasons why you might not travel home for the holidays whether it be financial reasons, relationship issues, health issues, or some other extreme circumstance. But if you can travel home for the holidays, you should. Although traveling over the holidays is a pain, especially with kids, the effort you put into it will reap benefits tenfold. And maybe not for you directly, but for the people you are visiting.
There are a thousand reasons why people don’t go home for the holidays, but there are a thousand counter arguments to those reasons as to why you should make the effort to go.
For example, it’s easy to say, “Well, we want to start our own family traditions.” This is understandable, but having your own family traditions doesn’t mean you have to stay home to do them. Or that your extended family can’t be included.
Or you might say that you want your kids to wake up in their own beds for Christmas. But why? Do your kids really care where they wake up or is that just a movie plot line playing in your head making you feel like you have to have Christmas in your own house?
Maybe you want your extended family to know that your little family is its own little family. But they probably already get this since they only get to see you a few times per year.
Again, if there are larger issues like financial constraints, living overseas, safety concerns, or home-life is a toxic environment, then don’t go. But if it is just boiling down to you not wanting the stress or because you have some magical idea of what Christmas should be in your own home, then pack your bags because the only thing that really matters during the holidays is being with the ones you love and who love you back.
When we are in the throes of raising our own family, it’s easy to forget that the grandparents who are watching on the sidelines are still our parents. One day our own children will be where we are now, telling us over the phone (or whatever technology has us doing then) that they aren’t coming home for the holidays because it’s too much trouble. It will be our hearts breaking that we won’t get to see our children or our children’s children for the most wonderful time of the year.
We will be left in the dust wondering why they just don’t want to see us.
As morbid as it sounds, your family won’t be there forever. Grandparents have limited time left with their grandbabies. They have limited time left with their own children- you. And if it’s not a grandparent, it might be an aunt or uncle, or maybe a brother or sister. No matter who it is, the fact still remains the same- life is fleeting. Kids grow up. People die. Nothing lasts forever.
Why remove yourself so much from family that they miss out on those amazing experiences with you and your family simply because it’s too stressful?
If you can’t go home for the holidays, try to make a trip right before or right after the season. This way you are still getting the magic of the season without the uber-expensive airfare, the craziness of the holiday rush, or the stress that undoubtedly comes because ‘tis the season.
It’s important to remember that extended family loves you too. They miss you, your spouse, and your children. They want to be able to spend the most magical time of the year with you, enjoying your family and your traditions. They are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters – they are family. No gift you can give them is more important than your presence.
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