Growing up there was never a question as to what my family and I would do on Christmas Day. The morning was always spent opening presents with my family, and in the afternoon we shared Christmas dinner with both sides of the family. This was just a perk of all of us living within 1 mile of each other. It never mattered to me where the holidays were hosted; I just couldn’t wait to see my family. As excited as I was to get presents, I felt the importance of the love and connection of family at a very young age.
Ideally, for me, this is how Christmas Day would go every year. As a military family, Christmases have been very different. During the years when my husband was deployed, I chose to travel and visit my family for Christmas as a means of self-preservation and healing. I knew I needed the comfort of the memories in order to get me through without my husband.
Three years ago, we implemented “Operation: Stay Home For Christmas”. Why? We were exhausted, and more importantly, our kids were exhausted. The travel back and forth was just too much. It also didn’t help that my parents were newly separated, making the holidays even harder to try and coordinate where and when we were meeting with who.
While the importance of sharing this holiday with family is still something we instill in our children, they also have to understand that sometimes we just need to stay put and create our own memories at home. We of course open the doors to those who wish to visit, but we stay put.
What were the pros of staying home? We had the opportunity to spend more time in and around our home creating our own Christmas traditions. We had the chance to relax and unwind rather than pack up and load the car. We had more time to embrace the spirit of the season and less time traveling. Those who have traveled with kids understand that traveling with them is more than enough to kick Christmas cheer to the curb!
Will you be traveling this holiday season? Some things to keep in mind:
I have heard many stories from military friends that they have to travel to see their extended families during the holidays because it would make so-and-so mad if they didn’t. They are stressed and frazzled from the pressure of taking their kids on long trips just to appease others. Although we miss seeing our families during the years we choose not to travel, sometimes a military family needs to do what is best for its family unit.
There are two sides to everything. You must remember that whatever choice you make, make it with the best intention for your family.
Will you be traveling this holiday season? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
About the blogger: Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, published author and branding expert. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband and two children.
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