I don't travel for major holidays including, but not limited to: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Halloween. I don't travel for major holidays for a variety of reasons. The roads are more busy, and thus more dangerous, and thus more time-consuming for long distance travel. Air travel is more expensive, more crowded, and more likely to have a chain reaction of delays and cancellations during major holidays. It is more difficult and expensive to book a pet-sitter during major holidays. The most important reason I don't travel for major holidays is that people build too much expectation of what that holiday should be. There is such a slim chance that your dream holiday will be exactly fulfilled on the prescribed timeline. It's a recipe for disappointment. It's pre-ruined.
Your idea of the perfect Thanksgiving will likely be ruined by my chosen dietary restrictions (vegetarian) and food allergies (peanuts and pecans, with a side of soy sensitivity). You will not enjoy my opinions of how Christmas is simultaneously too commercial and too sanctimoniously divisive even within the same church denominations. I will very likely cry because someone there says something hurtful to my tender feelings. I will very likely anger someone without meaning to; not realizing I've stepped on a culture war landmine. Maybe I'll anger someone on purpose, because we disagree, and I'm done staying silent. I don't want my holiday ruined because some family dynamic was tested by an ultimatum that backfired. An example of this was the year my husband and I traveled halfway across the country for Thanksgiving. What should have been a festive dinner of eight people at the fancy dining table was instead an angrily silent Thanksgiving dinner for only four people at the informal kitchen table with way too much food for four people walking on eggshells.
When I stay home for major holidays, I enjoy the company of my little chosen family of my husband and my pets, sometimes a few friends. If someone in this small group ruins the meal by repeatedly opening the oven so that nothing gets cooked properly, or by forgetting to serve the desserts, or by leaning into an argument, or by maligning a certain breed of dog that happens to be my sweet shelter dog's breed, or by flipping over a board game gone too competitive, or by slicing their thumb during meal prep and spending the evening in the emergency room, (these have all happened to me, or near me, at major holidays,) then at least I'm close to home. I can easily make a hasty retreat to feed myself, relax with my sweet dog and cats, soothe my nerves, cocoon with a good book, or zone out to a movie that I like. I'm not stuck far away from the comforts of home for a few more days of tension, anxiety, and unmet expectations. I don't have to deal with hectic travel on top of the emotionally draining and fraught holiday interactions.
I will travel to see you any other time of year. If some aspect of that series of interactions is imperfect, then at least the stakes weren't as high. We can more easily and immediately forgive each other; rather than stewing in resentment that the imaginary script wasn't followed to the letter.
But during major holidays, I will send you glad tidings from over here.
To those who celebrate, merry Christmas!
To those who get offended by acknowledging any other kind of holiday or celebration outside of Christmas, you can go now. Your portion of this blog post is over.
Move on with your day.
No one will notice if you bow out quietly.
Are they gone?
To those who celebrate, happy Hanukkah!
To those who observe the celestial changing of seasons, I wish you a comforting and relaxing winter solstice.
To those who generally celebrate the festive feeling of this time of year, happy holidays!
To those who observe Kwanzaa, enjoy!
To those following the Gregorian calendar, I'd like to pre-wish you a happy new year!
To those who partake in the airing of grievances for Festivus, um, I'm so unclear on this holiday. I hope it's what you expect it to be. I won't be there.
If I have failed to acknowledge your holiday of choice in the appropriate manner according to your exacting standards, then file it under "pre-ruined." I didn't do it on purpose, but here we are.