What are you all up up to for the Christmas/winter break this year (assuming you get some sort of break)? Here in NYC, public schools don’t let out for the winter break until the week of Christmas (next Friday, the 21st, is the final day of the calendar year and then school resumes on Jan. 2), which is a week shorter than most school districts around the country and what I was used to growing up. Instead of maybe enjoying an extended vacation somewhere, or one week at home and one week traveling, you have just a week to pack everything in with your kids that you want to before they’re due back at school. So we choose to stay put. Jackson stopped believing in Santa this year, but Joanie hopefully still has a few more years of magic left, and I find it much more enjoyable to have Santa visit us in our own home rather than look for us at the grandparents’ where we then have to figure out how to get gifts home, along with car seats, luggage, stroller, etc. through overcrowded airports amid other cranky travelers.
Because our kids only have one set of living grandparents, and their other set was Jewish anyway, there’s not a fight over Christmas. If we traveled to see anyone, it would be my parents, but we choose to visit them in Missouri during other school breaks (NYC schools get a week in February, another week in April, a bunch of long weekends, and, of course, all of July and August). For now, we spend the holiday break at home. (Family is invited to join us if they want, and if not, we make plans to see them another time.) The last few years we’ve usually met up with friends who are also staying local, on Christmas Eve at some point, to enjoy a holiday toast at least, if not a whole meal. I almost always make a lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner, which I plan to do again this year, and we might invite friends over to help eat it. On Christmas morning, we continue my own childhood traditions with gift-opening and a big breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs, and fried potatoes. In the afternoon, we embrace the Jewish side of our family and watch movies and go out for Chinese food. I have now gained five pounds just writing this paragraph.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is probably my favorite week of the year. I love how the city empties out and how peaceful everything feels after a month of holiday madness. I manage most of the gift-giving in the family, organizing wish lists for family members, accepting the mail deliveries, wrapping all the gifts from everyone (with help from Drew) since everything is bought online these days and sent directly to us, and even though I strive to minimize this aspect – the consumer aspect – of the holidays, it always feels like a lot; I really relish the moment it is done, when Christmas is over, and we/I have a chance to relax, slow down, and appreciate what I think is the real purpose of this time of year: spending quality time with people you love and drinking a lot.
What about you? If you’re married or coupled up, how do you decide whose family to celebrate the holidays with? Do you forgo traveling like we do and stay local? Do you go on a beach vacation? If you have kids, do they still believe in Santa? Where do you open gifts if you celebrate Christmas? Do you have a traditional meal or food you always eat during the holidays? Do you ever wish the holidays could be like the winter Olympics and only happen every four years? No, just me?
PS If you do get together with family or if you have kids, these are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit!