My name is Heather, and I don’t want to go “home” for the holidays.
I grew up in the Midwest with two parents and one sister. My daddy passed away in 2009 and I don’t have the greatest relationship with my mom. I adore my sister, but if I spend the holidays with her, it would be rude not to visit my mom and her new family. So, I choose to stay home. I don’t want to go “home” for the holidays.
I live in Central Florida where the sun is shining and the palm trees are swaying and we often enjoy spending the day after Christmas at the beach. We made friends here who are closer than family; they’re the ones we choose to spend the holidays with.
Do I miss the excitement of seeing cousins and the smell of all my favorite childhood dishes being brought to the table? Of course. But there’s something to be said for spending the holidays without guilt trips, snarky comments, and uncomfortable encounters. Peace of mind and happiness of heart trump nostalgia any day of the week for this girl.
The first few years we chose not to go “home” for the holidays, the guilt trips were difficult to endure. “Why aren’t you coming? You can stay with us. Christmas won’t be the same without you. I miss you. Are you ever going to come back?” And for a while, it felt really strange to not be with family while we carried out our favorite holiday traditions. But I’ve learned that making new traditions is pretty amazing, too.
The “holiday sweet spot”, for me, has been mixing our old family traditions with new ones in a way that feels both new and comfortable at the same time. I’ll use Christmas Eve as an example. When we lived in the Midwest, we didn’t do a lot on Christmas Eve until bedtime. Then we opened up our Christmas jammies, read the Christmas story from the Bible, read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, put out cookies for Santa, left the reindeers some treats, and went to bed. But since moving to Florida, we’ve added a candlelight church service to our evening and dinner at our favorite restaurant with friends. We even take a picture of the kids outside the restaurant on the same bench every years. That’s become our new tradition and we can’t imagine Christmas Eve without it. We still come home and read the Bible, the story book, and do our usual pre-bedtime traditions. But we’ve made news ones that, combined with our old ones, help us feel like we’re not missing out on anything by not being “home.”
Lastly, I don’t fell like I have a home to go “home” to. With my daddy gone, my mom remarried and moved away, and my sister living in another town, going “home” for the holidays means going to someone else’s home and that’s not how I want to spend my holiday. I want to be comfy in my cozy house, surrounded by my husband and our kids and our closest friends. I want to create memories with the people I love most in the world. And maybe, just maybe, I’m creating a home that someday my kids will want to come “home” to, regardless of where we live or what our house looks like. They say “home is where the heart is,” and I want my heart to be a safe place for my children to always come home to.