My favorite season leads right into my favorite holidays….Thanksgiving and Christmas. I always feel like I have so much to be thankful for, especially during this time. I actually stop to pay more attention to all the wonderful things around me. Of course you have your scrooges, but I feel like most people are in a slightly better mood around this time.
One thing that happens more than normal around this time of year is family travel. Maybe you don’t live near your family and you go see them around the holidays or vice versa, they come to you. Whatever the case, there is a lot of necessary travel going on. In my mind, this is not really a vacation although it is great to spend time with loved ones.
Now that I no longer live right down the road from my family (they ALL live in St. Louis), I decided to make the trip home for Thanksgiving instead of Christmas so I would be able to take more time. This is all new territory for me. I have never left home so I have never needed to “go back home” for the holidays. Turns out, it’s a little more stressful than I imagined. Here are a few things I have learned from sharing my time back home for the holidays:
Give yourself enough time, but not too much time: How do you do that? Well I went home for 10 days and let’s just say, that was too long! Not in a terrible way. But visiting and running around to see people can be exhausting. Don’t wear yourself out. Make sure you find the balance of “just long enough” before you wear out your welcome.
Call people ahead of time: I made the mistake of waiting until I got to St. Louis to call a few people. Big mistake. Not only were their feelings hurt that I didn’t tell him ahead of time, we simply couldn’t make the scheduling work to see each other. Make sure you make it known ahead of time to those that are most important to see.
Schedule some downtime: Now that may seem crazy since you are there for a visit, but catching up with gobs of people is exhausting. You have different groups of friends, old work friends, high school friends and all your family…you are going to be eating too much, drinking too much and having the same conversations with each group. Give yourself a break to refocus. Go shopping by yourself, take a trip around the city, go out to lunch by yourself….just make sure you can regroup before entertaining again.
Leave room for changing plans: Most of my friends have families now. The kids are young and (in my mind) constantly sick! Moms need to be able to stay home with sick kiddos or heaven forbid, the babysitter falls through. Stuff happens. Try not to schedule a breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day just in case you need to change your original plans.
Add them to the list even if you don’t think they will come: Not everyone is great at keeping in touch once you move away. You know, the old best friend from kindergarten that never texts or calls, but maybe you comment on their pictures on Facebook “The family looks great! Miss you”. Those relationships still mean something they have just drifted due to distance, career and family obligations. Just invite them to the girls dinner. It doesn’t take much to get right back to where you left off. Friendship is awesome like that.
Visiting my hometown over Thanksgiving was exhausting but wonderful. I loved being able to catch up in person with some of my nearest and dearest. Those short trips just once or twice a year will be moments you never forget. Take full advantage of them.