We are a military family of five, and for the third year in a row we are staying home for Christmas (gasp). Our twins are almost 18-months-old, and no amount of money could entice me to fly with two lap babies. Also, have you seen the cost of five plane tickets over the holidays? That’s definitely not going to happen. This is why I’ve decided to write a short holiday survival guide when you are away from family.
My husband and I both grew up in families with solid holiday traditions that required very little planning on our part to stay entertained. We shuffled around to grandparents and other family members houses where we didn’t have to worry about food and fun. Now we are responsible for providing all of these aspects of the holidays for our family and ourselves. So how do we go about creating a magical Christmas for our family while staying sane throughout the whole day??
- Plan, plan, plan. We have learned over the years that what works best for us (or maybe mostly me) is a detailed plan. Even if we don’t follow through with it, at least we have it to fall back on. I’m talking about planning out every meal for Christmas day to avoid staring blankly into the fridge in the midst of a “hangry” meltdown. Remember food is fuel to get you through this potentially long day of entertainment.
- Get out of the house. We move around a lot, and I try to find a cool thing we could go do even if it is a short time out and about. Last year we were stuck in a vacation rental for Christmas. It was freezing, but we were a couple hundred feet from the beach, so we got all bundled up, walked over, and took a family selfie with the mighty pacific. Now we can look back and say “Remember that one time we went to the beach on Christmas day?” With nowhere to physically go to meet up with relatives, the day can feel really long, so getting out and about can help. Also, who doesn’t love a little fresh air?
- Start new traditions. What I love the most about staying home for Christmas is being able to create our own traditions. A lot of them don’t make the cut for the next year, but they still made memories. You can try any tradition you want when you stay home for the holidays!
- Try to find other families in your same position and have a meal, appetizers, or dessert together. Bonus points if the family has kids the same age as yours and they can burn off some pent up Christmas overload energy.
- Last but not least, be thankful for the opportunity for a quiet Christmas with the ones you love. Every Christmas is so different for us, and I love that about our family. Though we may be having a “smaller” celebration, it gives us more time to reflect on the season and what it means to us. Good luck to anyone else out there braving what we know as staying put for the holidays!