AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Friday, December 20, 2013
Where to Go For the Holidays - Tough Choices
So where are you going for the holidays?
a question families everywhere face each year, and the answers vary depending
on a number of factors.Geography,
religion, children, illnesses, divorce, aging relatives and weather are just
some of the circumstances that come into play in this most sensitive and
personal of decisions.
I was a child, our family hosted holiday dinners almost every year.We had the biggest house, and 20-25 people
was the norm come Thanksgiving or Christmas.We kids loved staying at home but still getting to see so many
relatives, including some we only saw at this these events.If not for those dinners, I would have never
really known my Uncle Percy.The
memories of those days are priceless.
when I was twelve, my parents split up.Things got messy, and holidays became something of a strain.The gatherings were smaller, we started going
elsewhere more often, and it just wasn’t the same.
16 I started dating the girl I would eventually marry.We began attending at least two family
celebrations each holiday, trying to make everyone happy.We wed five years later and continued the
practice.It was inconvenient and tiring,
but we managed
we had our first child.And thus began a
gut-wrenching tug of war familiar to many families, one which kept us debating
and negotiating for a couple of decades.
(mostly grandparents) wanted to see the kids on Christmas and were devastated
at even the possibility they might not.We all lived in the same general area, so geography could not be used as
a reason.But it soon became apparent to
us that rushing around with children on Christmas Day was not a lot of fun.
we did it, believing it worth the effort.With each passing year we would float the possibility of staying home
for our own dinner.Our house was too
small to host, but we thought perhaps we would see one family before the
holiday and one after.
the guilt and gnashing of teeth was awful.My grandmother – who I loved more than anything – cried the first year
we announced the plan.She told me there
would be a time when she wasn’t around, and she didn’t want to miss her
one-year-old great-grandson on Christmas.We told her she had to understand.
she suddenly got sick, and died that Christmas Day.One of the last things she asked me was to
please let her see “my baby” on Christmas Day.I promised I would, but never got the chance.That was my saddest Christmas, but in many
ways my most meaningful one.
ourselves then we would do whatever necessary to see family on holidays.In the years that followed we bought a bigger
house and started hosting.We still did
some double celebrations, but the number was greatly reduced.
might think all this would make me more understanding when faced with the
holiday situation after my kids had their own families.And you would be wrong.
I was every
bit as bad as our parents were in the beginning, unable to process the thought
I might not see my kids and grandchildren on Christmas.I laid on the guilt, just as thick as they
my younger son and his family live several states away.They are extremely good about alternating
holidays.My oldest and his family live
nearby, and they have been equally good at doing the same.And I have eased off the guilt trips.Not much, mind you.Just slightly, but I’m trying.
is difficult having lots of family who want you on holidays.But trust me, it’s more difficult when those
doing the wanting are gone.So the
eternal struggle to find the middle ground continues, and each family does what
it thinks is best.
not selfish to want to spend Christmas at home with your family.But that desire often doesn’t fade with
age.Still, as we get older, we have to
accept our changing roles.But nowhere
does it say we have to always like it.
where you go this season, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all you good
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and
can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at