10 October, 2022

Christmases Future

As I wrote on A Separate Life recently, I’ve started thinking about future travel plans. I’m trying to minimise my carbon footprint in doing it, which means I’m looking at options like house swapping (open to proposals!) or staying in houses that are free or low-cost because they’re owned by a few friends and families, to make longer trips more viable, requiring only one international return flight. Of course, this is easier when I’m not taking any kids with me, and I don’t have any adult children who are travelling themselves, eg. a niece and nephew have recently been on two international flights each, and they’re still only at university.

Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post. In looking at possibilities for the next few years, and starting to think about this December, it struck me that it’s not just a decision for this year. In reality, my husband and I have Christmases for the rest of our lives in which we need to decide what to do. Since our parents died, we no longer have an obligation to evenly split our time (we used to do Christmas with my parents or his parents in turn). I’m lucky, of course. I have a younger sister who has hosted us for the last two years but will be otherwise engaged this year, and an older sister who often has a bigger Christmas with her daughter and family in the South Island. It’s further to travel, but we always get a nice pre-Christmas holiday on the way there. So we do have options. But this year, I don’t want to feel like the strays who need to be taken in.

My husband and I have sometimes travelled at Christmas, and we enjoy doing that. Somehow, being somewhere completely different takes the isolation out of being alone. We were thinking about that this year, and considered several options. Fiji was looking good, despite me saying only a week or so earlier that Fiji wasn’t high on our priority travel list! Someone, though, had posted about a lovely adults-only resort, and that sounded perfect. But frankly, we’re reluctant to go somewhere just because we want to escape. I’d rather save the money for a trip we really want to do.And peak season travel can be really expensive.

We have yet to have a quiet Christmas at home, just the two of us. In some ways, that is very appealing. The weather is nice at that time of year, we don’t have to get involved in the crazy chaos of Christmas/summer travel, and we could design a day that is totally focused on our preferences. It could be indulgent and relaxing. It sounds wonderful when I think about it, and is probably what we will do. We might have to lay low, so we don’t get any sympathy invitations from cousins in the city. A good restaurant is advertising an adults’ Christmas Dinner, and that could be fun to do too.

Yet I will admit that I’ve felt a bit melancholy about it. All of a sudden I’ve realised that for the rest of my life, we effectively have two possibilities – spend Christmas with one of my sisters, or on our own. I hate the feeling that I am dependent on my sisters to have a social Christmas, that I’m that superfluous extra. When my parents were alive, I never felt that way. My place in the family was legitimate. But now, it feels a bit as if I am imposing on their family units if we always end up with one or other of them. By the way, neither of my sisters make me feel that way – this is purely internally generated!

I'm sure I can figure this out. My husband is much less bothered by things like this. It's not an important religious holiday for us, and - as I often say here - it is only a day. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like the absolute freedom of the idea. It would be free of expectations, free of obligations, free of traditions we don't like. That sounds pretty good! I guess I'll have to live it before I will know. I'll report back at the end of the year.


  1. Isn't it crazy that Christmas actually isn't all that far away? We used to go to Vermont when things started going real poorly for us in the family building department, for Christmas proper. It was not terribly far away but far enough to be a reset. But then we started going between Christmas and New Year's, and having Christmas at home, because it was cozy and nice to have just us two and the cats. And then disappear and do something fun elsewhere. It's not a religious holiday for us, either. I also do not have a large family and they are spread out all over the country (with two sets of divorced parents each there is no way to see everyone).

    I say do what makes you happy. If going to Fiji makes you happy, go live it up in that crystal clear water! If staying home and cozy (although it's summer so maybe not cozy per se?) makes you happy, do that. Maybe trying something new will jump start new traditions. And if you get a "sympathy invitation" you can politely decline because you have hot plans with your husband. :)

    It's lovely to have a choice, and to explore what is meaningful. The lovely thing is what works this year doesn't have to next year. Thinking of you!

  2. I've written this before, but I enjoy the lead up to Christmas. The lights, the trees, the ornaments, the movies. The actual day is pretty anticlimactic. I anticipate this year will be even more anticlimactic than usual because we won't be unwrapping any presents. Our major plumbing repair is our gift this year, and it is one that we appreciate! We just won't be able to unwrap anything lol.

    My family celebrates the weekend before so it's nice to have that tradition. So I go from my calm, quiet home to my loud family that's like herding cats. Hahaha, ahhh family. <3

    My boyfriend's sister wants us to spend Christmas with them, but I am actively disinterested in spending Christmas morning watching someone else's kids open presents. So I will not be doing that. Just being honest.

    Now that I'm in healthcare I honestly hope to work the holidays. The actual days are not important to me, and I like that holiday pay! ;)

    Definitely do whatever makes you happy and know that each year can be different. As for me, I've gotten kind of used to small, quiet Christmases. They're not depressing for me like they used to be. They are just much needed down time from this world.

    1. You're right - the lead up is often better than the day.

  3. I’ve cancelled Christmas this year - or to be more specific, I’ve cancelled Christmas with anyone else. My selfish brothers for example - who are rather put out that I won’t be running around organising Christmas Day for them and they won’t be leaving a pub after a belly full of nice food topped up by copious amounts of alcohol that I’ve carefully organised (and paid for, then had to chase them for their money!) for them to totter to my home, to remain there for the rest of the afternoon and evening and me eventually having to feed them again later on as well as a constant supply of drinks & snacks and no rest.

    The inlaws (outlaws!) never invite us over anyway and we won’t miss the non invitation 😂 instead we are staying home alone and thought perhaps we could have a really nice posh buffet this year? Something we could totter back and forth to throughout the duration of the day and evening and fill our little faces to our hearts content. I may even buy us matching ridiculous pyjamas to wear all day whilst we slob around in front of the TV not having to go anywhere or be with anyone.

    I have no idea how I will be feeling health wise post surgery so I plan on taking things easy. I’ve even told some friends to not bother buying me anything for Christmas to save me running the gauntlet of shops and so forth and in all truth, money will be tight, so I’m not wasting it on anyone else!

    Go with your own flow and do whatever tickles your fancy! x

    1. Your idea for the day sounds lovely! I like the idea of a posh buffet. Mmmm, I'm salivating already at the thought of the Christmas mince baklava I'm going to make. (Drool!)

      I have an arrangement with my family (and friends) generally that if we don't see each other at Christmas, we don't do presents. Takes away stress and expense! Highly recommend it!

      When we are having our two-person Christmas I will be thinking of you having one too.

  4. This post is close to my heart. As you know, we've always spent Christmas with my parents, sister & her partner (and my grandparents, when they were alive), with the exception of Christmas 2020, when it was just dh & me because of pandemic restrictions. I don't want a repeat anytime soon, but I have to admit, on its own merits, it wasn't bad (could have been a lot worse!). I did some Christmas baking (which I shared with BIL, SIL & the nephews and their wives) and we made a special dinner -- not a whole turkey, but a turkey breast roll with some trimmings and pie for dessert, as well as wine. We had a couple of Zoom calls with family, played Yahtzee together and stuffed stockings for each other (my one request). The only retail open at the time was the drugstore and the supermarket, and we mostly gave each other chocolate, but I was perfectly fine with that, lol.

    I am hoping that when the time comes & it's just my sister & me that she might come to visit me for Christmas now & then. She's not a big one for travel (she's only visited me ONCE in the 37 years I've lived here...!), so I suspect we will either be visiting her or spending Christmas on our own -- although I also suspect BIL & the nephews might extend some invitations then too. I also find myself thinking about a couple of days at a resort up north, with someone else (i.e., the restaurants!) doing the cooking, sleigh rides and possibly a fireplace in our room... that has some appeal too!