Don’t take it personal, but we are going to go a different route this year. As in, we aren’t driving for Christmas, and neither are you. We are going to spend time together as a family, just the five of us. It’s going to be small, and family focused. There won’t be fancy clothes, only comfy pants allowed. I’ll be in my slippers, and so will my wife. The kids won’t be combing their hair, and we won’t be posting any of this online. No one will be wearing a Christmas sweater unless they insist, but I doubt they will. And no one will be in a holiday dress, or sporting a festive tie.
The food will be good, but not amazing, because amazing food takes too much time. The TV will be on most of the day, with a non-stop, back-to-back, marathon of our favorite Christmas movies. On the table will be a puzzle, my wife with her glasses up high on her face, my daughter and son standing on chairs, leaning over with a puzzle piece in each hand. On the living room floor, an assortment of board games.
We’re not cleaning for anyone. I won’t be scrubbing the baseboards, or vacuuming the stairs, or dusting the ceiling fan. The tree will be lit, and wrapping paper will be everywhere.
Why are we doing this? Because I’m over it. I’m over fighting for time off from work days before Christmas. I’m done with the stress of driving 14 hours to visit family on Christmas, three kids in the back seat arguing over who’s breathing whose air, kicking and punching and asking for another juice box. I’m over managing their bladders, and fighting over who ate the last snack-sized bag of Doritos, and using all my yoga moves to reach my four-year-old’s milk cup.
I’m tired of saving up money for travel, and saving up money for Christmas, only to show up and dress nice and have family sit in different corners of the house because they don’t really like each other that much, but they are playing nice because it’s the holidays.
I’m tired of cleaning up my own house to impress family who cannot be impressed because their standards are unreachable when you have a family of living breathing humans that poop and pee and actually shoot crumbs out of their faces. I’m over the stress of cooking an amazing meal for my children who will eat the center out of a roll.
It’s not worth it.
So this year, we’re taking a break. We’re doing our own thing, and it’s going to be lazy and comfortable, with a bunch of crappy candy and ice cream and food that comes from boxes. We are going to snuggle on the sofa, and we are going to talk about school, friends, Minecraft, Princess Twilight Sparkle, and whatever else comes up. We are going to lock the doors, and turn up the heat, and enjoy each other because frankly, we don’t get enough of that because life is busy.
I work two jobs. My wife works full time. The kids have homework and soccer and gymnastics, and the last thing we need to add to this mix is trying to impress people or travel. On a good weekday, I get two hours with my family. On a bad, I get zero. And you know what, that sucks. The thought of spending the holidays with our little family unit, no stress, is making me more excited for Christmas than I have been since childhood.
Are we being selfish? Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe. But sometimes when you are parents, you have to be a little selfish. You need to fight for those snuggles and that time when you can just be a family. And when I think about it that way, I don’t feel too bad.
Now this isn’t to say that, if family suddenly appeared on our doorstep, we’d turn them away. We wouldn’t. But if they do, they better bring their comfy pants, and leave their concerns at the door, because this is a fun old-fashioned family Christmas where we won’t be doing anything but being a family.