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.