I spent last weekend bachelorette-ing with my cousins and the topic of the holidays came up one morning. We were discussing what the plans were for this and what we've done the past holidays. We chatted about what our traditions are and new ones we'd like to start. It's something that can be particularly hard to navigate when you start having babes. We grow up in our family and have one way of doing things and one set of traditions and then we get married and start a new family with someone who has their own ways of doing things and their own traditions. Then, as if things weren't complicated enough, you have a baby and suddenly you have your own things that you want to do and your own traditions that you want to start. If you'd really like a challenge, then make sure no one lives in the same state! I find it sad that the holidays are often times characterized by so much stress and feelings of obligation to do something a certain way just because it's always been that way. There's certainly not a perfect approach, but below are what Aaron and I have done the years prior to Parker, the last two years with Parker and what our plans are this year. (Be sure to check out the other posts from: Amy || Rebecca || Leah || Erin || Emily || Caitlin || Alex)
Prior to Parker ||
After we got married, we alternated flying to Austin and the East Coast for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. If we did Thanksgiving in Austin one year, then we did it in Maryland the next year and vice versa. It was very fair in a lot of ways, but also meant we spent most of our vacation traveling. Not to mention, it's the most expensive time to travel.
Because we were always traveling for the holidays, it also meant that we didn't have a lot of holiday traditions of our own. We always had our LA Family Christmas Dinner, complete with white elephant gift exchange and lots of wine which was one of the highlights of the holiday season!
After Parker ||
We decided to stay in LA for Christmas the year after Parker was born. She was almost 9 months old and it was so nice not to travel. We enjoyed the much more laid back holiday version of LA for a few days so much that we decided to do it the next year, too. We always invited both of our families, but totally understood that it's hard time to getaway when you have other family nearby who is looking forward to celebrating with you. The year after Parker was born we started our own traditions like tamales on Christmas Eve (something I borrowed from my own family) and Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church. After church, we put Parker to sleep and then we watch a Christmas movie while we get all of the presents for Christmas morning ready for the big reveal! I always make cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve and then let them rise overnight. On Christmas Day, I pop the cinnamon rolls in the oven and we enjoy them while we open gifts. We've also hiked Fryman Canyon the last two years. After Parker, our LA Family Christmas Dinner continued, but this time with everyone's kids in tow and a Santa-for-Hire that would show up for the kids! (It saved everyone a trip to see mall santa.)
This Year ||
Now that we are living in Austin, we are going to Maryland for Thanksgiving (a much shorter flight from here than LA) and going to stay home again this year for Christmas, but this time with lots of family around! I'm sure that new traditions will be created now that Parker is living so close to her cousins.
In all honesty, I'm sure both of our families would have preferred for us to keep alternating holidays every year, flying across the country every time we had vacation, but I've never regretted our choice to stay home with our little family of 3 in LA. It really allowed the holidays to be a time of rest and recuperation and it was so, so special. If you haven't before, maybe consider allowing yourself the space to do exactly what YOU want to do this holiday season, whatever that may be.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? Planning on starting any new ones this year? We let Parker decorate her own tree last year and it provided hours of entertainment! Planning on getting a picture like this every year until she is at least 18!
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