You can’t take it with you

In 2015, we chose to make Christmas more about creating memories, rather than about exchanging gifts like we normally do. We usually decorate the house with the biggest Christmas tree and make sure everything looks beautiful on the inside and out. I normally ask the kids what they want for the year and feel it’s important to make them happy, but something inside makes me feel that the magic of Christmas seems to get lost.

Last year we decided to start a new tradition. I purchased a Christmas tree that was much smaller, put two wreaths out on the doors and decorated minimally. It was great to not stress about all the Christmas preparations. I told the boys to share with me a few things they wanted and sent it to my sister-n-laws house in Seattle.

We took the flight out to Seattle on Christmas Eve and stayed with my husband’s sister and her family. When we arrived, we rented a vehicle and drove to their house. Once we got settled in and got a tour of their house, and met their two beautiful Alaskan dogs and completely being in awe over their boating equipment and snow skiing gear in the garage, we left to tour the city. After two days of experiencing the fishing life, visiting the first Starbucks at the famous Pike’s Place Market and seeing the importance of the ferry system, we were ready for our adventure. On Christmas morning we exchanged gifts, packed up and drove the scenic route to Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. The mountains, the ocean and sailboats we saw were just beautiful. It was an enriching experience to visit a new country, for my children to see their cousins in their environment and driving the countryside on Christmas was magical. Our boys had never been skiing before, so skiing in Whistler will be hard to top.

The first day they went to ski school and learned quickly (like kids do). They were ready to be on their own the next day. I unfortunately got reminded how bad my knees really were and decided that a knee replacement isn’t a necessary surgery I want right now. I chose to take advantage of the weight room, massage area, shopping and being mom to my family as they came off the mountain to warm their hands or ask for hot chocolate. We spent three days in Whistler. My boys had their ski clothing spread all around our hotel room and before it was light outside were jumping out of bed to put it all back on. This was a trip that was perfect for three busy boys and an active husband.

Our sons tell us often it was the best thing we have ever done as a family and have asked to go back several times. They are growing up so fast, and I know that it will be more important for us to invest in trips and experiences rather than material possessions. My oldest will be leaving in three years for college, so it is important that we create these memories with the five of us.

Holidays can be stressful. We end up just racing around to buy gifts and decorate our house and front yard. Most of the time we skip over Thanksgiving in the mad rush of being ready for Christmas. I want to keep reminding myself that the holidays are really about spending time with loved ones. These are the memories that will last! It’s fun to flip through photo books and re-live great times together. Happy Holidays!

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