After I moved to Cali from Michigan in 1999, I went home for Christmas every year. I endured the chaos that is holiday travel, paid for the overpriced airfare and rental cars, and risked getting stranded in some airport between here and there. Nothing could keep me from spending the holidays with my family. The season didn’t truly start for me until I stepped foot into my mom’s apartment.
Then in 2007, my life completely changed. Fast.
By Christmas 2008, Hubs and I had just bought our house and used all of our savings to cover the down payment. My brother also lived with us at the time. We couldn’t afford to fly all three of us home for Christmas, so we flew my mom to Cali instead. I loved being able to spent Christmas with my mom and brother, but it definitely felt different.
Christmas 2009, Hubs and I had just gotten married and spent two long weeks in Italy. He couldn’t get more time off of work to travel to Michigan with me. I chose not to spend our first Christmas together as husband and wife on opposite sides of the country, and so we stayed in Cali that year.
Christmas 2010, I was preggers and we were in major money-saving mode. We couldn’t justify the cost of expensive holiday travel with the birth of our little one just a few months away.
Now, Christmas 2011 is here, and for the fourth year in a row, I will not be going home for Christmas. Babies are ridiculously expensive, and we’re down to one income now that I’m a stay-at-home mommy. Money is tighter than it’s ever been.
I started getting really sad thinking that I may never go home for Christmas again.
But I guess that’s what happens as time passes. People grow up, change, move away, start their own families and create their own traditions. The Christmases I remember as a kid do not exist anymore. As sad as that sounds, perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And it doesn’t have to be sad at all.
I know many people travel to see family for the holidays. Everybody flies in from all over and piles into Grandma’s house, sleeping wherever they can find room. That’s what makes Christmas special for them. Other families take elaborate vacations. Maybe they spend Christmas skiing in Aspen, or swapping their eggnog for mai tai’s on a beach somewhere. Celebrating Christmas in a hotel is their special tradition.
But I don’t really want that. Now that we have Quinn, I don’t want to spend Christmas in a hotel or at someone else’s house. I don’t want to go anywhere and have Christmastime be associated with stress, rude travelers and suitcases. There’s so much hustle and bustle this time of year as it is. I don’t want to add to it.
It’s important to me that Santa Claus comes to Quinn’s house and that Quinn wakes up on Christmas morning in his bed and runs out to see what Santa left under his tree. Maybe it’s because that’s what I had as a kid, and I want to create the same happy memories for my son. I almost feel like that’s the way Christmas should be, even though I know that’s not true for everyone.