Around this time of year, my husband and I are kind of crazy. Crazy as in: busy, excited, stressed, tired, busy, running on adrenaline… Did I mention busy? You get the idea. And it’s always because of one thing: Family. I’m not saying that as though I’m pointing fingers, but it’s a fact. My husband and I care about being good hosts. (I think a lot of people think he doesn’t care because he’s so laid back, but he does. He’s very “proper” like that.) It’s not that family puts us out but when they come out for Christmas we have that much more things to do, attend, cook and bake. We have to make sure to participate and sometimes tread carefully on heightened emotions the holidays seem to bring out in everyone (me included, and I think even my stoic husband). When we go to Florida for Christmas, it’s kind of the same. We’re not the hosts anymore, but we have to be “good guests”. Make sure to do what people want, not because they’re holding it over us or because there would be a scene if we didn’t, but because we want to make those people happy and we’re both usually gracious people. But whether we stick around in Colorado and host or travel out – it’s always about meeting the expectations we set for ourselves in doing for others and while the tasks change the overall effect does not.
Our first Christmas as couple (we had one where we weren’t officially a couple) we visited my family in Nebraska for a Christmas party AND hosted my husband’s family who were out visited for a week (parents, siblings, grandparents and a lot more family and family friends at Christmas dinner). The next year we went to Florida. The year after his family came out again. The following year we went to Florida. Last year we hosted, and this year it seemed like we’d be going to Florida… and we’re not.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. A few months ago, I think I would have pushed back against the idea. But when my husband said he didn’t want to go to Florida or Nebraska or even get together with his family here in Colorado, I just kind of felt relief and a new excitement. We’ve never had a Christmas to ourselves. My husband has suggested doing this in the past, but then his family either came out or we decided against it and went to Florida. And if his family came out this year, I doubt we could actually pull this off. I mean when family makes the trip, you visit with them. It’s not a chore, it’s the right thing. (And let’s not even get into the potential drama of: You’re here for a week, but we’re not going to see you. I mean even if it isn’t meant as a statement or hostile stance, any person in any family would take it that way. Hell, I would take it that way – just saying.) So, his family not coming out gave us this opportunity.
It’s been one of those rollercoaster years for us. Super highs, some new lows and right now we’re both in a good/getting better place, (my husband loves his newish job, has met some personal goals of his, I have been miserably sick and chasing a mystery problem I just got an answer to last week, so I should be feeling better in a few months and not need surgery, plus it’s not like a terminal thing – major plusses there), but also feeling tired. Between that and some issues that surfaced earlier in the year, I think space is a good thing – for everyone.
No family. No need to make our house look perfect. No need to perfect recipes and go all out for a Christmas feast. No need to worry about other people’s plans and schedules and hurt feelings or feel stressed to have to defend our plans.
This is going to be a super lax Christmas. We still got a tree, and decorated it, and did Christmas cards, and we’ll hang stockings and do gifts Christmas morning but the pressure is off and there is no set schedule – it’s glorious. Because I’m me, I have to make at least three desserts (frosted/decorated sugar cookies, Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls) that were staples growing up. I also want to make puppy chow this year. And my husband has one staple dessert he likes (wedding cookies). (We made Gingerbread Men for our neighbors, but that’s over and done.) But no Christmas dinner to worry about, which is awesome! I told my husband I don’t want to make anything special, because I don’t want to cook, I want to rest. And I won’t let him do it by himself because I’ll feel bad. I really want to do something like Chinese takeout and just be hermits in our pajamas for three days straight. I’m not even kidding. To me that sounds like heaven. I am not sure if my husband quite believes me, but I mean it. (Plus, aside from Chinese food being my favorite food in the world, my husband actually surprised me the first Christmas we knew each other, but weren’t dating by ordering Chinese delivery for me. He did it because he knew I was by myself and knew it was my favorite food, and obviously he was trying to make a good impression early on. 😛 So this will be a nice kind of throwback.)
It’s weird (for me) to be so excited about non-plans, but I really am! It’s like a true staycation, and something that we both really need. We aren’t making or committing to any plans. In fact, from December 23-December 26 we’re committed to not having any plans and using the word “No” in regards to making any. My husband has some family that’s only thirty minutes away, but we won’t see them that weekend. Before – maybe, after – probably, but for those four days it is just going to be us, and our fur babies, no matter what!
My husband is already talking like this will be our new tradition, and we’ll see. If it is ends up as nice as it might be then maybe this will be our new Christmas tradition until we have kids at least. When rugrats are in the picture though, it will be back to family though still different. I don’t think either of us will worry about the house or the food. If everyone is wearing clothes, doesn’t smell disgusting, aren’t bleeding and there is no food out going bad, I think we’ll call it a success, (I don’t think it’s setting a low bar, I think it’s setting a realistic and happy one) but that’s still a few years out.
Hope everyone has a happy, stress-free, drama-free holiday. Here are to the traditions we keep close to our hearts (we still did ours, just the two of us) and the new traditions we’re making. Bring on the Chinese food!) 😉