Every Christmas, we go on what we call “The Grand Tour.” Everyone wants to see the kids and we like being fed. And all the love is pretty great, too.
We plan accordingly. We bring the car with the biggest trunk. And pack overnight bags, presents organized by event, as well as platters of non-refridgerated desserts.
Holiday celebrations include:
Mid-December – My mother’s side of the family at my aunt’s house when my cousin comes to visit from Colorado
12/24, Christmas Eve – My father’s family (the only time of the year we get together)
12/25, Christmas Day – Our family of four celebrates, then we are off to my husband’s father’s side of the family, then we drive to RI to spend the day with my husband’s mother’s side of the family at his aunt’s condo.
12/26 – My parents share presents with our kids at their house, and then later in the day my mother’s side of the family shows up for yet another holiday shin-dig.
Wild card event(s):
– My mother’s aunt sometimes hosts the entire family if the travel schedules align.
– Work-related family events
(Please note, we even did this holiday tour when my daughter was 10 days old. We are dedicated.)
We see family almost every weekend, but this is a unique time of year because we see EVEN MORE family in an amazingly tight timeline. Regardless of the time lapsed between the last family function, we pick up right where we left off. It’s a blast. It’s also very tiring. And the expectation is that we be there and hear comments like, “Oh, we know it’s so hard traveling with little kids. It’s so great that you’re here.” I know everyone means well, though when I am not in my best mental space I think, “Yeah, like we had a choice.”
Then I quickly check my inner voice and remember we will be leaving this house with presents galore, full bellies, and lots of love…at least seven times over. I am truly grateful for all of the family that wants to be a part of our lives. Even though exhaustion looms.
Yet for all the stress, nights away from home, and driving the Tour may bring, the wonderful family memories are what we remember. Games of competitive Pictionary. That one gift in the Yankee Swap that everyone wanted (usually lottery ticket-related). The same delicious food staples, be it stuffed shells, baked macaroni and cheese, or lamb. (There is so much lamb!)
When we arrive home after “The Grand Tour,” it takes about a week to get back to a sense of normalcy. As I put our new gifts away, I reflect. I reflect on all the generosity we experienced the week before and how that continues throughout the year. And I use that to joyfully frame the start of a new year knowing that our family is a strong foundation of love. That the connections we have will be there for our kids to rely on. All their aunties, uncles and cousins will help them no matter what. Our family is forever. All the effort to make “The Grand Tour” is absolutely worth the hugs, kisses, and village support we receive to care for our little ones. And, of course, there’s the lamb. Did I mention the lamb?