It is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and I am ready to throw my Christmas tree out the window.
Don’t get me wrong…I really do think it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But by New Year’s Day, I’m always ready to sweep up the last of the needles and call it quits on the holiday season.
This year, the holidays looked quite a bit different for us. We traveled on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, spending one in the RV and one in a hotel. So of course I have some thoughts and opinions. You have come to expect that from me.
When Max and Theo were three years old, we traveled south to visit family over the Christmas holiday break. To be frank, it was a nightmare. Instead of enjoying our own family traditions and relaxing, we ended up tired and stressed. The trip ended and we said, No more. From now on we celebrate holidays in our own home.
And we did. Until this year. If you listened to the Thanksgiving podcast episode of Girl Camper, you heard me talk about how we have struggled to answer the question of what holidays will look like now that our extended family has moved far away. We have slowly let go of what a holiday should look like, and have started asking ourselves what we want it to look like.
This year we decided to try camping on Thanksgiving. I honestly did not know how I would like it, but I’m going to cut right to the chase…it was marvelous. The next month, my mother in law offered to send us to Great Wolf Lodge for Christmas…and it was just as awesome.
So I’ve been thinking: Why did I enjoy holidays away from home so much? Why were these holiday travel experiences different from ones in the past?
Holidays are supposed to be about spending time with loved ones, right? But so often we get caught up in the planning, preparations, events, cleaning, baking, and general running around, and we end up stressed and exhausted.
When we spent Thanksgiving in the RV, 100% of our focus was on spending time together with family and friends. I wasn’t worried about a clean house or making 5 different desserts from scratch. I actually experienced more sustained gratefulness over this Thanksgiving weekend than I ever can remember in the past. We were doing fun things together, enjoying the last of the beautiful fall weather, and gathering with friends who we don’t often see.
On Christmas, we spent the morning at our house, opening gifts and enjoying a holiday breakfast. By noon we were off to Great Wolf Lodge. Again, I didn’t know how I would feel about the experience and again, I ended up feeling an overwhelming freedom spending time with my family instead of worrying about all the holiday busyness that can be so distracting. We were in bathing suits going down watersides instead of sitting around the living room feeling over stuffed and overstimulated. We weren’t installing batteries and breaking down cardboard boxes. We were just having fun.
Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t perfect. I think if we did it again, I might want to develop some roadworthy traditions because I’m sentimental and love that stuff. Next year on Thanksgiving, for example, I would definitely do a campground meal instead of eating out at restaurant.
I was worried that spending the holidays away from our home would leave me feeling unfettered and strange. Instead, I felt more rooted than ever. Because I was completely experiencing the most important part of the holiday season…time with family.
Happy New Year, and we wish you joy.