I do it every year. I say, since we now have a 3- and 6-year-old, we should really stay home. We should not travel over the holidays. We should be snuggled into our own beds, awaiting the arrival of the Big Man himself.
But, every year, by the time December rolls around, I am inching up our visit home as much as I possibly can, usually involving us driving on Christmas Day itself, if not sooner.
It is a tough call for a mom. When, exactly, are you old enough that you should be home creating your own family traditions and stop going “home” for the holidays? Or is there an age that that should happen at all?
For me, it is a several-pronged issue. For one, to this day, no matter my age on paper, I do not feel that it is truly a holiday unless I am home. I use my phrasing of that very sentence as Exhibit A. Why do I still call my parents’ hometown, where I grew up, more than five hours away from my current mailing address, “home?”
I love our house. I love our neighborhood. I have absolutely no desire to move back “home” and settle my family there. I love it here, and I’d miss it too much. But, it’s still not “home” to me.
I’d also say that the longevity of my grandparents makes me feel that I’m still a “kid” in our family. Yes, I have two of my own, and am the oldest of five total children, but we are still “the kids” at home. Maybe because I’m the oldest I’m supposed to take the lead there, but I can’t see the rest of my family coming five hours this way to all celebrate here.
I also have divorced, remarried parents. So, minimally we are celebrating two Christmases, and honestly with divorced grandparents on one side, a lot more than that. This also means we can’t have one big, happy holiday celebration at my house, because that’d be excluding at least half of my relatives.
Going home, however, allows us all to pop in and out of the various homes and see everyone if we simply make the trip home. But, I do recall as a child, thinking the same exact thing. Why can’t we just stay home like “normal” kids.
Thankfully as a child I grew up in the same proximity to my grandparents and didn’t have to include the five-hour drive. Nevertheless, I found it unfair that I couldn’t stay snug in my pajamas, playing with my new toys. Instead, we had to load up the car and scurry away to all of our relatives’ homes.
I had to split my holidays even as a kid between my dad and mom, and that meant at least one major shuffle during our day. There was no way we could “stay put” and relax all day long.
But the truth is, after more than three decades of being shuffled around, it is “normal” to me. If I sit at home, and believe me we have tried, I get antsy. I don’t think it is a holiday. I think it is too calm.
As much as I gripe and complain about the chaos, I also somehow love it. I thrive on being busy, and that’s what makes me tick. It isn’t in my blood to sit at home and do nothing all day.
So, while I’ve honestly given it the old college try in the years past, I think I am more than content to travel “home” in order to celebrate. It’s OK with our family. We have some traditions at our own house, like cutting down our own fresh tree, baking cookies, purchasing our annual Hallmark ornament, and last but not least, driving “home” to see roughly a half-million relatives. I think Perry Como had it right all along anyhow because “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”