This week officially kicks off the holiday season, and here at the office, our conversation has inevitably turned to everyone’s plans for celebrating. Some of us are headed off to large family-filled festivities that revolve around one epic meal, while others are taking the time off work to relax and get ready for the new year. While trying to figure out my own plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I got to wondering: Do you have to go home for the holidays? In order to gain some perspective, I called on a few friends to share how they spend the holidays every year and was surprised to learn how widespread the opinions are on the matter. Their insights inspired me to take a new approach to my own holiday planning this year, and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.
The true secret of getting the most out of your holiday season is striking a balance between spending time with friends and family and taking some time to unwind by yourself. In order to maintain this balance, our art director Jenn said she tries to travel and meet up with family only once during the holidays – either Thanksgiving or Christmas. “That way I get to spend some quality time with them, and also protect a few days of relaxation for myself.” Although, she admits, she has it pretty easy since she’s an only child and all of her family lives in Texas. My friend Devanne, who lives in Hawaii, says coordinating holiday travel is a little more difficult for her.
For Devanne, celebrating the holidays doesn’t always mean going home. Devanne told me that she hasn’t been back to Texas for the holidays since moving to Hawaii for work in 2015. Her family understands that traveling 3000 miles isn’t always doable, so they’ve worked out a new holiday tradition (one that I think my family and I could get behind!). Every December, they meet up halfway between Hawaii and Texas in California, so they can enjoy family time together while also sneaking in a little vacation for everyone. Devanne says, “I think Christmas is more about being with your family, rather than spending time in your hometown.”
Family traditions often play a big part on whether or not we feel like we should go home for the holidays. My family doesn’t have any strict traditions when it comes to Thanksgiving or Christmas, but my friend Skyla says that Thanksgiving is her family’s biggest traditional holiday. “We pretty much have a tradition for each day of the week — Monday through Saturday.” Skyla also lives in Hawaii but makes a point to travel home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. “My friends all think I’m crazy for going home for both holidays, and my bank account definitely hurts, but it’s all worth it for a hug from my mom.”
We all love attending our fair share of holiday parties, but being the designated hostess can add on a lot of extra stress this time of year. Camille’s friend Lauren usually hosts around 30 people every year for a big Thanksgiving dinner party, but this year she and her husband are taking a break and heading out to the lake with their daughter and dog. She says, “I’m most looking forward to a simpler shopping list, fewer dishes to make, no schedules to coordinate, and getting a few extra hours of sleep.” Like Jenn, Lauren’s family all live pretty close, so the fact that she can “go home” anytime of the year relieves some of the stress of the holiday season.
After catching up with friends and family, I always like to designate a few days for myself to reset before the new year. Being a young adult brings along a separate set of challenges and Devanne reminded me that I’m not alone in wanting to spend some time away from my hometown this holiday season. She said, “When you’re young, you’re trying to build a life in a new place and often times, if you leave to go home every chance you get, you can miss out on opportunities to plant your own roots.” As a kid, you think the holiday structure you’ve known will last forever, but getting older has made me realize that I want to start my own traditions.
At the end of the day, the holiday season is about taking a moment to relax and spend time with the people you love, including yourself. Maybe this year I’ll try hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for two, or take a few days to clean out my closet, instead of going all-out with a big dinner party. There are infinite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I think it’s best to find what works for you and your family, even if that changes from year to year. Striking a balance between me-time and family celebrations can make the holidays feel that much more special.