The holiday season that ends one year and ushers in another is often a time of tradition. I think most people would say they have some sort of Christmas tradition, whether it be a big feast and fellowship with family and friends or something smaller, like marathon watching A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life. Our family had a tradition … until this year … when we through caution to the wind and made some new memories … we’ll see if this one catches on.
The Girl, our first-born, joined us in late November 2000. Bryan and I had friends who often lamented that the Christmas season, as joyous as it may be, included stress of travel and family commitments and a lot of “which grandparents get to see the kids on Christmas?” At the time, we were living in Birmingham, Alabama, not far from Bryan’s parents, while all my family resided in Hot Springs, Arkansas. So, we developed a “family rule” of sorts – well, really Bryan did. (Side note: He’s also the reason we never had to break a child from sleeping in the bed with us. When the Girl was just 2 weeks old, I slept on her floor during a thunderstorm because I was overly worried and Bryan said it was a bad idea to start that habit. I may have been snarky about it then, but by the time we had three kids, none of whom ever had to be retrained to sleep in his or her own bed, I was willing to concede his forethought.)
The Christmas rule was that we would always spend Christmas day at our own house, where the kids would wake in their own beds to see the Santa surprises and anyone who wanted to visit us there was welcome. Other days of the season were for visiting family and friends, but Christmas day was to be celebrated at home. Over the years, as we moved from Alabama to Texas to Tennessee to Arkansas, Pepa (Bryan’s dad) continued to travel to us. So for 15 years this rule continued, and “Christmas at Home with Pepa” became tradition.
Though Bryan was the instigator of this tradition, we all fully embraced it. So much so, that the idea of doing anything differently was often met with discord from the kids or myself. For the past few years, Bryan has been suggesting family sightseeing trips, cruises, or other adventures around this time of year and we always say something like “well, as long as we’re home for Christmas.” Thus, no adventures happen. Well, this time around, he was more convincing I guess. When he suggested spending Christmas in Washington, DC, the usual balking was minimal.
The Girl has been interested in going to our Nation’s Capital for quite some time (I’m sure Hamilton and/or binge-watching Parks and Rec on Netflix had something to do with that) and both boys seemed interested as well. While we were contemplating the plans, we told the kids (particularly Wonder Boy) that a trip at Christmas would mean less presents because the trip itself would be a present for all of us and, to our pleasant surprise, they were all good with that. In October, when we still hadn’t pulled the trigger on the plans, Bryan called me one day from work and said, “We don’t have that much longer before [the Girl] is done with us. Two years and she’ll have graduated and moved out and won’t want to take trips with us anymore.” I suppose that’s what did it for me. We were booked by that afternoon.
We held a small Christmas celebration here at home on the 22nd, which we all agreed seemed too early and just plain wrong. Nonetheless, the kids opened gifts from us and Mema (Bryan’s mom). Then, before dawn on the 23rd we left our house to catch a flight to DC and returned home on the 30th. Seven days in DC is both very long (when you walk almost everywhere) and way too short because you can’t possibly see and do everything there is to offer. Monuments and memorials and museums, oh my. I can’t comment on the Metro system because we walked or uber-ed everywhere. The weather was not unbearably cold as long as the wind wasn’t biting and the rain never lasted very long. (Of course, I heard it got below freezing the night after we left, so we may have simply dodged a bullet there.)
When all was said and done, we’d seen and done what we could and were ready to come home with memories for a lifetime. Over the next few days and posts, I’ll share the highs (and lows) of our trip as follows:
- DC-Area Monuments, Memorials and Historical Sites
- DC-Area Museums and Government Locales
- DC-Area Dining
- DC-Area Extras
So do we have a new tradition? Will this year be #nycchristmas? Well, I’m not sure we’ve settled on an answer just yet. But wherever we celebrate, as long as we’re with each other, it’ll be Christmas at home … with Pepa, of course!