It’s a discussion on military spouse boards every year – going home for the holidays. Some people are quick to say, “Absolutely not!” The reasons vary – they don’t want to travel more than they already do, it’s expensive, it’s difficult to travel with kids, they want to start their own family traditions. All of these reasons are valid and each family has it’s own opinions on why it’s important to stay in their own home for the holidays. But there is something to be said for those who make the effort to go home each holiday season.
Is it stressful? Yes. It is worth it? Absolutely.
Military families spend their service member’s entire career living away from family. There are a lucky handful of us who end up stationed where family is located, but those years are few and far between. And although the holidays are one time during the year we might find ourselves wanting to stay home with our little family instead of packing up half our house to cram into a car or a plane once again, the holidays are the time to spend with family – the entire family.
Of course, there are several reasons why you might not travel home for the holidays whether it be financial reasons, relationship issues, health issues, living overseas, or some other extreme circumstance. But if you can travel home for the holidays, you should. Although traveling over the holidays is a pain, especially with kids, the effort you put into it will reap benefits tenfold. And maybe not with you directly, but with the people you are visiting.
There are a thousand reasons why people don’t go home for the holidays, but there are a thousand counterparts to those reasons as to why you should make the effort to go.
For example, it’s easy to say, “Well, we want to start our own family traditions.” This is understandable, but having your own family traditions doesn’t mean you have to stay home to do them. Or that your extended family can’t be included.
Or you might say that you want your kids to wake up in their own beds for Christmas. But why? Do your kids really care where they wake up or is that just a movie plot line playing in your head making you feel like you have to have Christmas in your own house?
Maybe you want your extended family to know that your little family is it’s own little family. But they probably already get this since they only get to see you once a year.
Again, if there are larger issues like financial constraints, living overseas, safety concerns, or home-life is a toxic environment, then don’t go. But if it is just boiling down to you not wanting the stress or because you have some magical idea of what Christmas should be in your own home, then pack your bags because the only thing that really matters during the holidays is being with the ones you love and who love you back.
When we are in the throes of raising our own family, it’s easy to forget that the grandparents who are watching on the sidelines are still our parents. One day our own children will be where we are now, telling us over the phone (or whatever technology has us doing then) that they aren’t coming home for the holidays because it’s too much trouble. It will be our hearts breaking that we won’t get to see our children or our children’s children for the most wonderful time of the year.
We will be left in the dust wondering why they just don’t want to see us.
As morbid as it sounds, your family won’t be there forever. Grandparents have limited time left with their grandbabies. They have limited time left with their own children- you. And if it’s not a grandparent, it might be an aunt or uncle, or maybe a brother or sister. No matter who it is the fact still remains the same- life is fleeting. Kids grow up. People die. Nothing lasts forever.
Why remove yourself so much from family that they miss out on those amazing experiences with you and your family simply because it’s too stressful?
As military families we already spend so much time away from extended family. We move every few years, and there are deployments and overseas moves and last minute exercises that make it extremely difficult to be able to plan to travel anywhere. Either way, the effort to go home to visit the family that raised you (or your spouse), letting them see your amazing family as it grows, and sharing those special memories with them can make their year.
It’s important to remember that extended family loves you too. They miss you, your spouse, and your children. They want to be able to spend the most magical time of the year with you, enjoying your family and your traditions. They are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters – they are family. No gift you can give them is more important than your presence.