A new perspective on Christmas ‘obligations’

December 21, 2011 | Uncategorized

As we started to map out the Christmas season, one thing became clear: There would be nothing remotely relaxing about this holy holiday. I’m not just talking about the shopping and wrapping and cooking. I’m talking about the driving from town to town and state to state, the weather worries, the hotel stay, the kids asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

For many of us, the holidays mean zigzagging the state or region or even the country in an effort to visit family members. I’ve done each of those variations at one time or another, and I can tell you first hand that it can take a little of the merriment out of Merry Christmas.

Earlier this week, after Dennis and I had declared that this would surely be a “lousy” Christmas because of all the driving and time spent in a frantic race from one place to the next rather than in front of our own tree with a glass of nog, I stopped and asked if maybe we should just bag the plans and stay put. If we are preemptively declaring our favorite holiday “lousy,” maybe we need to rethink the plans.

So this is how I decided to evaluate the situation: If I knew this was going to be my last Christmas, how would I spend it? And I realized that if I had only this Christmas left, I wouldn’t want to spend it in isolation up north but with family. Yes, I’d want to get in the car and drive to see my dad and step-mom, my grandmother and aunts, my cousins and in-laws. Because what fun is Christmas if it isn’t shared? Do I wish my family lived closer so we could be together during the day and still return to our own beds at night? Absolutely. But that’s not an option for those of us who no longer live in our hometowns or whose parents and siblings have moved on.

Although I’m still kind of dreading the time spent in the car tossing juice boxes and snack bags to the back rows as the kids stare zombie-like at the various screens playing different age-appropriate movies, I have to admit that contemplating Christmas from a somewhat dark place has actually made me more merry.

How are you spending your Christmas? Is it the way you would spend it if it were your last?


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