10 December, 2014

Holiday season: If money were no object

December holidays are often dreaded by those of us who are going through infertility, or who are living without children. I know those who are without partners, or who have lost loved ones over the year, will find it hard too. I am thinking of a niece of mine, whose partner suddenly died several months ago. Christmas will be tough for her this year.

Over the years, in the face of the “the season is all about the kids/family” refrains, we try to find a way to celebrate this time that keeps it important or meaningful for us. I was about to write a post about this, then realised that my “own” routines aren’t very exciting. Then along comes an email with a blog prompt to “describe how you would celebrate the holidays if it was totally up to you and money was not a factor.” Now that’s my kind of challenge! Though I think I’ll through in my preferred Christmas Day here at home too.

When we stay home for Christmas/New Year, it is easier of course for me to make the season my own. I get to put up my tree, choose what food we have, the timing, etc. I guess it just means I have control, and that is perhaps what makes the day and the season better for me. Perhaps that’s what is so hard for many of us who have been through infertility. We lose control in such a major aspect of our lives, and then find ourselves thrust into child-centric celebrations by family members who don’t always understand (or want to understand) again without control. So perhaps, retaining a bit of control over the day or the season is important.

At home, I like to:
  1. sleep in, because we can!
  2. have a simple but special breakfast (just croissants, but we don’t do it other times of the year), and it means we can sit down to breakfast together, and have a moment to breathe and appreciate our lives
  3. make my yummy tiny mince pies
  4. admire my tree, and refrain from kitchy decorations all over the house
  5. choose what music we listen to (whilst I quite like Christmas carols, I don’t want to have to listen to them all day)
  6. cook what I want to eat (even when we have family in town, I get to control the menu, and that’s fine by me!) which is usually baked ham, but might be seafood, lots of salads, the last asparagus of the season, and will always involve berries, etc,
  7. take time to relax with some champagne and smoked salmon before the chaos of the big meal, preferably outside on a lovely sunny day
  8. eat adult food, and keep it simple but elegant
  9. send all the relatives away, and spend a quiet evening with my husband, basking in the peace, and
  10. maybe chocolate will be involved somehow too.

The days between Christmas and New Year would be spent sleeping and reading and entertaining friends on our deck and having barbecues on theirs, visiting the vineyards and drinking wine in another friend's olive grove, heading out for a picnic to enjoy the summer and relax under a tree with a good book, and maybe at some stage I might stick my toes in the sea. A simple New Zealand summer.

We alternate spending Christmas here in Wellington, where we live and where the in-laws live (and where the overseas relatives base themselves if they are returning for Christmas), and  - as we are doing this year - in the South Island with my mother, and my sister (who lives nearby) and her family and now two of the nieces have moved back to the region, and my other sister (and husband and Charlie) will be there too. It’ll be a nice family Christmas, but it’s not the same when I don’t get to have Christmas My Way. (I know, I sound like a control freak!) This year, because my mother’s ill, it won’t be a carefree relaxing time, even though it will be nice to make the time special for her. Maybe that’s why I am struggling to feel enthusiastic about what is usually a favourite time of the year. Or the fact that it is dismal and raining outside, not at all summery! Still, there are a few weeks yet for December to work its magic on me.

But every few years, we take off overseas. We first did this 19 years ago, renting a red Mustang convertible and driving around Oahu on Christmas Day, and then again when we were still coming to terms with our no kidding life and needed to escape, spending it in Europe in search of a White Christmas. Sometimes we stay with family, sometimes we do our own thing. If money were no object? Oh, the decisions the decisions! The European White Christmas idea didn't deliver snow, so maybe I’d head to North America – Quebec City is wonderfully romantic, and would probably have snow. We could stay in a hotel with thick stone walls and a roaring fire, and wander the streets all wrapped up. And head down to New York City for New Year. Via Toronto and Vermont, to visit some friends of course. Then I’d finish up with a week on a beach somewhere – Florida perhaps where there are more friends, but I keep forgetting that money is no object, so maybe I’d shout them a trip to the Caribbean. I’ve always wanted to go to the Caribbean.

If the Husband put his foot down and insisted that we avoid the snow, then we’d probably have to look in the southern hemisphere. We’ve spent a number of Christmases or New Years in southeast Asia – on a beach in Thailand or Malaysia – and that is always enjoyable. (Asian food, endless massages, sun, sea, and sand – aah bliss). But I keep forgetting that money is no object, so I’d probably return to my happy place, South Africa. Christmas out in the bush, at a luxury lodge with champagne and great South African wine and massages (and no kids) and mid-day naps, and early mornings and evenings communing with giraffes and zebras and lions and leopards and warthogs and hyenas and rhinos, and enjoying the big skies of Africa. That would be the ideal way to spend the holidays. (If money were truly no object, I might pick a few favourite people to come with us.)

How would you spend the holiday season if money were no object?


  1. A good friend did this one year for celebrating the New Year (it was ringing in the millennium and she figured the added perk of being away from major cities during a potential apocalypse was an added perk). This region has hot springs. So of which are well known but others that are local secrets. I would love to ring in the new year sitting in one of those hot springs, sipping beer and not worrying about the world.

  2. Ohhh. This is a wonderful question!

    I'm not really sure what I'd want to do. I think it would involve an adults only resort on a beach or private island with no kids. I'm not sure if I'd want to include friends and/or family or have it just be the two of us. I think it would be fun to relax on the beach while enjoying rum-based drinks, hiking, and exploring cultural sites. No real plans, just doing whatever strikes us as fun at the moment. Good food, of course, would be a part of the day. Basically I would just like simple and laid back.

    1. Amazing how many of us just want simple and peaceful.

  3. Well... I don't have a holiday this time of year (Chanukkah is just a small, unimportant festival and there is little to do for it), so I'd be answering more as an outsider. (Go to England! To Harry Potter World! And look at all of the Hogwarts Christmas decorations!)

    But I LOVE this time of year. People generally leave me alone because they're so busy with Christmas. So I get to read a lot of books. We avoid all stores starting after Thanksgiving, so I have plenty of time to hunker down in the house. Make hot chocolate from scratch. Pop popcorn. Read aloud to the twins. Read by myself. Write computer games. (Yes, that's my secret passion. I make interactive fiction games.) Go to the library and just wander around, taking out a million cook books. I love this time of the year.

    1. It sounds wonderful to me. I'm not religious, so Christmas is cultural only. And seasonal, in that it is the start of our summer holidays/vacation.

  4. Dh & I have always travelled home to spend Christmas with my family -- I love it and look forward to it all year, and I honestly can't imagine doing anything differently (although I suppose there will come a day when my parents are gone and I will have to adjust to a new reality). :( Every now & then my mother says we should all go somewhere warm for Christmas, like Florida -- and while we would all be together, I really can't imagine Christmas without snow. New Year's, though, now THAT's a different story, lol.

    So if money were no object, I would still have Christmas all together with my family, somewhere where there's snow and with hired help to do the cooking (under my mother's expert supervision, of course, haha) & cleaning up... then a day or two later, off to some tropical island to ring in the New Year while basking in the sun & sand and drinking unlimited frozen margaritas. ;) With no resultant hangovers, of course. ;)

    P.S. Thanks for including Toronto in your fantasy trip! ;)

  5. Never really had a Christmas tradition before moving to Finland (just going to church, no gift giving or family gathering). Then started a Christmas tradition spent with the in-laws, but it's mostly adult only as my BIL's sons are grown-ups now. I don't even have to buy anything for my brother's sons. So it's a low-key event. This year, though, on a whim we found a last-minute small cabin in a touristy place and we're going there before Christmas. Some quality time before spending Christmas with my MIL he he he he...I've never been there before, so I'm excited about it. :-D