I want to host for the holidays. Just once every few years is all I ask. I have a dream of watching my nieces and nephews stampede around our home buzzing with the excitement that only comes from being together during the most wonderful time of the year. I long for my children to sprint to the fireplace to show their grandparents where Santa came down the chimney and left a trail of magic soot behind him.
I smile imagining my children snuggled up on the couch with their cousins watching movies and sharing their new toys and gadgets. I am even intrigued to see how my husband and I would juggle all of the soups and sides cooking to perfection just as the turkey is coming out of the oven (even if it would lead to smoke alarms sounding and folding tables being set up in the garage for extra space). To me, the biggest benefit to hosting for the holidays would be making these memories in our own home. Does that make me selfish? AITA?
Okay, so I admit there is a little bit of a selfish component at play, too. I really don’t want to travel with my children for every major holiday each year. Packing up the kids with all of the stuff they could possibly want or need gives me immense anxiety. On top of that, I am tasked with carrying the mental load of “What dish are we supposed to bring?” and “Did I remember to grab everyone’s gifts?” and “What will the kids think about Santa if we don’t wake up in our own home on Christmas morning?” Additionally, I am always worried I will forget that one thing that can’t be purchased at Walmart, and trying to time driving around nap and bedtime is a game of chance that doesn’t usually go as planned. If sleep schedules go out the window, then everyone’s moods suffer.
How should you navigate this when someone in the family (namely the matriarch or patriarch) rejects change? What if all the “children” in the family are now grown with spouses, in-laws, and children of their own to consider when planning holiday gatherings? When do traditions adapt to the ever-changing needs of the family?
In my mind, it is simple. Everyone in the immediate family should state their desires and expectations ahead of time and plan to be a little flexible once a final outcome is determined. If multiple members of the family want to host, then taking turns would be an obvious and ideal consideration. Once the plan is in motion, then the extended family should be notified and whoever can attend is welcome to do so! The more the merrier! Planning becomes immensely more challenging when you try to include all of the aunts/uncles, second cousins, and family friends in the planning stage.
It would be wonderful to have all of these people together at the same time, but it may not be realistic once the “children” of the family are grown and expanding their own families. Again, maybe I am naive to think it should be so cut-and-dry that everyone should just “take turns” when it comes to hosting. Maybe I am closed off to seeing the other perspective, but I am trying to make sense of it. I also understand that my partner and I are very lucky to have two sets of parents who want to spend time with their grandchildren, so for that, I am incredibly thankful. I just want the opportunity to bring our immediate and extended family into my own home, make them feel welcome, and start some new traditions.
This holiday season, all I’m asking for is the opportunity to host one event every few years. Given the chance, I think I would look forward to traveling for holidays versus having a sense of dread year after year when I am forced to pack up the car and hit the road again.