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The Case for Staying Home for the Holidays

Photograph by Twenty20

I'm tired. It's the end of 2015, and I just want to stay put. I travel a lot for my job and, although I love exploring new places, sometimes I just want to be home—especially during holidays when winter weather is on its way.

So that is exactly what I am going to do.

According to AAA, "The number of year-end holiday travelers will top 100 million for the first time on record. Nearly one in three Americans will take a trip this holiday season, with 100.5 million expected to journey 50 miles or more from home."

More than 90 percent of those people will be driving. I'd rather not be on the roads with them, even if gas is more than a dollar cheaper on average than it was last year.

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Too often we as parents, children, grandchildren, whatever, think that we have to see everyone and anyone in the family, especially if they are within driving distance. I say, "No more!" At least not this year.

We have family from New York down to Washington, D.C., and even out in central Pennsylvania. I have clocked a lot of hours flying across the U.S. to get to the East Coast when we lived in Seattle. We would then spend all our vacation time driving around to see every family member. Was this really the best way to say Merry Christmas? Maybe for the family we saw. But for my little family unit, we walked away from the holidays exhausted.

This wasn't a vacation. It was work.

When the holiday planning began this year with my family and in-laws, I put my foot down and said, "Nope." This year, we would spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at our house. We would drive 20 minutes north to visit my brother-in-law and open presents with my husband's family on Christmas Day. Thankfully, everyone agreed to descend on one house, instead of three, this year.

We will skip the 6-hour drive from our new home in Washington, D.C. up to New York to see my 91-year-old grandmother. Yes, it could be her last Christmas with us, although honestly, most days I think she will outlive us all. She would much rather see my family on a regular old Monday than have to keep up with us, along with the other 16 to 20 family members that have descended on her house every Christmas Eve for the past 38 years.

Am I at peace with my decision? Yes. Yes I am. Will I regret it once Christmas Day is here? Not one bit.

I've had to spend a few Christmases away from family—one notably being the year I found out I was pregnant with my son after missing our flight due to slick roads. I know what it feels like not to have every one of my closest relatives surrounding me. It's a good feeling, don't get me wrong. But I'm looking forward to the quiet.

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My husband has two weeks off, and we plan on doing a lot of local exploration around Washington, D.C., our new hometown that we have barely had time to check out since we moved. It will be quiet. It will be fun. It will be restful. It will not be filled with driving, just memories.

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