I love traveling to Oregon for Christmas. I love seeing the snow and the excitement of being on vacation. I love the old traditions of having Christmas at the school house and just hanging out doing nothing. I enjoy the jello salad, mashed potatoes and stuffing. The kids have a blast running around, playing, and knowing the rules have been relaxed for the day.
But it is Christmas morning that makes me sad. We wake up in another persons home and watch them open gifts. We love our family and love spending time with them. But I always think about our own home, 1,000 miles away, that has our presents under the tree. I think about our cat alone for the holidays and I miss my mom. Then on Christmas day we drive over the mountain to Portland. Often times the weather is bad so we California drivers end up driving slowly through the snow or taking the long way for 5 hours. Then after we check into our hotel we have Christmas dinner at Denny's. This particular Denny's is on the highway with lots of windows. And the thought that people are happily driving to relatives homes, or their own homes, really upsets me.
In the next few days we are able to visit with the Portland relatives. The kids once again have a blast running around and playing. That is when they aren't being scolded for touching or exhausted from missing their naps. We shuttle back and forth from the hotel to the relatives house, sometimes twice a day so the kids can take their naps. And since our kids are still so young we end up leaving the festivities early.
Then begins are horrendous 2-day drive home. Gone is the excitement of seeing snow and seeing relatives. Instead we are all cranky from lack of sleep, missing our own beds, sitting in the car for 12-hours a day, and the stress of Christmas. We rush home, but get nowhere fast as we end up making more stops to allow our cranky kids a chance to run around and stretch their legs.
This year is different. This year we are staying home. In the 13-years I have known my husband it is one of a handful of times we stayed home. The first year we stayed home as a family was in 2005, the year the twins died. So, although we were home it wasn't a traditionally fun Christmas. I spent the season choking back tears.
But this year we are staying home for no reason at all. It gave me an extra 2-weeks of Christmas because there was no packing or leaving early. I have been able to just relax and enjoy my kids. This year I was able to take them shopping for Christmas presents - its a luxury of time we hadn't been able to afford before. Then we went shopping for the less fortunate. We even stopped at a restaurant to eat, rather than drive-thru.
Here is the most daring part of our Christmas. I'm not making Christmas dinner. Instead I bought frozen pizzas and boxes of mac n cheese. I made the entire Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed it thoroughly, but I spent meal time convincing the kids to try the different foods and then the rest of the evening with them asking for snacks. This Christmas we are going to spend the day playing with toys and eating our favorite foods. There will be no nagging or fighting or schedules. In fact, we don't have any specific plans for a week.
I will truly miss going to OR for Christmas, but this might be the beginning of a new tradition for our rapidly expanding family. Next Christmas we will be a family of 6, that means each seat in the car will be occupied. That means there will truly be no room for gifts, to be given or received. It means traveling slower because the baby will be eating more frequently. And it means a car load of baby gear; play pen, swing, bottles, toys, etc.
Maybe I can convince everyone to meet us in Sacramento for Christmas.