We are full force into the holiday season and that brings either tremendous joy or immense stress, or both, for each of us. Today, I want to focus on how extended family impacts us.

As a child, we always got up and went for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do remember being able to open presents at home for Christmas, but we had to get moving and ready to hit the road. I don’t remember ever staying home for either of these holidays. As I got older and my parents divorced, holidays were split even more. I didn’t notice that I was bugged by not being home until I was an adult and lived in a different state from family and couldn’t afford to travel. I spent one Christmas by myself and it was so relaxing. It was refreshing.

When I moved back to New Mexico, I went right back into hopping houses. The first holiday season I was back, I was with Eddie and we had two houses to go to for his family and two houses for my family. We spent each holiday hopping houses. It was exhausting.

The first year that we moved to Utah, we went back for both holidays and hopped all of the houses again. The next year I put my foot down. I wanted to be home for a holiday. So, I decided we were staying home for Thanksgiving. I was cooking and not leaving at all that day. And so it has gone that way since. It has been great.

But it is 2020 and this year is all about shit getting switched up and nothing going normal. As we were talking holidays with family, we were told “or you can come here” to head back to New Mexico for Thanksgiving. I quickly said no. I held my ground that no, we are not traveling, Thanksgiving is my holiday at home. The next day I felt guilty, but after talking with Eddie, he said don’t, this is what I want and what I will get. There is no issue with me wanting to be home for a holiday.

After that conversation, I realized, I’m not the only one that feels guilty for some decision made about the holidays. And I know that so many of you do things and go places that you don’t really want to go just because it is the holidays and it is for family. I want to tell you that you need to start taking care of yourself and putting your needs or wants first.

Put your foot down. You don’t want to spend every holiday traveling? Then don’t! Make a decision and take care of yourself. Holidays are not about stressing yourself to make other people happy. Yes, holidays are about family and gratitude and celebration, but stress should not be required.

And this year? This year is even more of a mess. This year we need to be especially diligent about taking care of ourselves. If you don’t feel comfortable about traveling, don’t!

What do the holidays mean for you? What are your favorite parts of the holidays? What causes you stress when it comes to holidays? Do you even know these answers? I didn’t consider any of this for most of my life. I just went with what other people wanted and what was tradition. Then I decided I need to make my own traditions. I haven’t made a lot of them and I am still figuring out if I want to change some things, but just putting my foot down and staying home for one holiday is one thing I have made happen. 

Don’t let anybody bully you if you make a change. Stand up for yourself and stand up for what you want. Yes, holidays are about family, but you are your first family member you need to take care of.

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