I generally look forward greatly to Christmas. Every year the three of us fly from Toronto to Thunder Bay to stay with my parents for a week and visit all the family and friends I have here. Planning the list of things I want to do each time I come ends up being stressful though because the time I have is never enough and always too much at the same time.
I really want to visit my friends and get time to just hang out playing cards. I want to see all my various cousins, visit my grandparents, have dinner with my brother, spend time with my parents and go to the big Christmas bash. I also desperately need alone time and solitude and I want to enjoy the natural surroundings and quiet that coming up here allows me and it is simply impossible to do it all in the time I have. Of course I could book even more time up here but then it becomes too much time away from home and we get homesick, not to mention the challenges of leaving pets at home for extended periods and my parents eventually wanting their house back. I feel like a stuffed toy being tugged from all sides by a group of children, my stuffing coming out a little as the seams begin to give way. I love the attention and all but I wish there was a way to get all these great things without any of the downsides as my memories and anticipation of Christmas so regularly ignores the tradeoffs involved.
Not to say I am disappointed with coming up here for Christmas as that has never been the case. I love it but I can't seem to reconcile all the things I want to do and feel like I should do with the time I have available. Of course I don't want anyone to feel like I ignored them when I came into town but if I make time to see absolutely everybody and do everything I will just make myself miserable. There is a compromise that strives to be everything and doesn't quite make it as there is always someone I didn't see or some time to just relax that I never quite got around to taking.
My parents asked me this year if I was planning on starting up a Christmas tradition of my own and stopping my yearly trips up to see them. This is one of the things I love about them: They recognize that they don't necessarily know exactly what I want and make sure to make room for the changes I might want to make. They take the time to be sure we all know what the other wants so we can create a plan that makes us all happy. I see so often families where each person takes for granted that everyone wants the same things and it makes nothing but friction and angst. I don't particularly want to set up any of my own Christmas traditions though as I don't have much use for tradition; I don't mind doing the same thing over and over as long as that same thing is still justifiable on its own merits without relying on "But we have always done X". I love coming up north for Christmas and for now there is nowhere else I want to be.