When my husband and I were first married, we would travel every Christmas to spend the day with his parents or mine. It just seemed to make sense to leave our small apartment in favor of being surrounded by lots of family, food and celebration.
After our first child was born, this tradition continued but things began to get complicated. Traveling with a baby (and all the gear they require) involved much more planning and preparation. The baby never slept well away from home, and it felt like we’d always return home exhausted. Once Baby No. 2 came along, traveling for the holidays became downright ridiculous. Transporting gifts, stocking stuffers and baking supplies all started to feel like a huge chore—and it never felt like the holiday was our own.
Then one Christmas Eve, we encountered a blizzard as we desperately tried to make it home for Christmas Day. What should have been a three-hour commute ended up taking almost twice that long, and it was a terrifying journey for us as we watched multiple vehicles slide off the road. That was it, the turning point. We made a decision that day: We would always spend Christmas Day, and the days leading up to it, at home.
We still make an effort to travel after Christmas to see family, but Christmas Day is reserved for our family at home.
There is nothing better than watching our now three boys wake up Christmas morning in the comfort of our own home. Instead of frantically packing and spending hours in holiday traffic, we spend the days leading up to Christmas peacefully. It's allowed us to come up with our own traditions, like making cookies for Santa and opening pajamas on Christmas Eve, and we don't feel bad about it.
Our extended family has learned that if they want to see us on Christmas day, it is up to them to come to us. It’s worked well to have the grandparents visit Christmas Day, when our boys are chomping at the bit to show off what Santa brought them, and we all enjoy a nice meal together that I can cook without added stress.
We still make an effort to travel after Christmas to see family, but Christmas Day is reserved for our family at home. Our kids have made it clear that this is important to them, and it's important to us. Making a tradition is about doing what works best for your own family—and, for us, there's no place like home for the holidays.