A million visits to Coos Bay and this was the first time JB and I took off on our own for a drive up the coast to Yachats. Oh, it’s such a beautiful area—wild and salty and glorious.





The boys are at a great age for Christmas, and watching them open presents was an absolute joy. Man, they had a blast.




I initially had more to this post but after an afternoon of fretting about it, I decided to do some deleting. Thank you, though, for all your comments—they have been really helpful to me.


84 Responses to “Maybe it’s just the post-Christmas blues”

  1. Stacy on December 28th, 2010 6:49 pm

    I say make your own traditions, yes, family will be hurt and will miss you, but it’s about the kids now. Do you want them to remember that holidays were about driving for 10 hours or waking up and smelling mom’s homemade cookies in the oven? I recently made this same decision so I know, it’s tough.

  2. April on December 28th, 2010 7:10 pm

    When my hubby and I got married, we began the battle of figuring out who’s family we’d be with for Thanksgiving & Christmas…it meant either traveling from NC to Indiana or Florida. We quickly realized once our kiddo came along that feelings would get hurt each year when we couldn’t make it to one set of grandparents or another (and also the hassle of having to schlep Santa gifts,etc). We wanted the magic of Christmas morning to occur in our own home, with our own family traditions. So, we made an announcement that we’d be doing Christmas Day at our home, period. If we decide to travel for holidays, it’s either before Christmas, or after. Surprisingly, everyone agreed that it was a good idea, and didn’t (openly) begrudge us this decision. We’ve done it the past 2 years, and have really enjoyed being home.

  3. angie on December 28th, 2010 7:11 pm

    I think it’s okay to do what’s right for YOUR family. If it’s more stressful than fun for your boys at Nana and Papa’s (or whatever you call them), then by all means put a stop to it.

  4. Kami on December 28th, 2010 7:13 pm

    We have had this same dilemma like most. What we did this year was my family on the 19th–his family on Christmas Eve. Christmas day we go no where, period. It’s not even an option. Does everyone like it? I doubt it, but it’s our thing and we’re sticking to it :)

  5. Rachael on December 28th, 2010 7:36 pm

    We meet all of our extended family (my aunt, uncle, and grandparents) in, wait for it, Las Vegas, a few days before Christmas for a long weekend. The evil step-grandmother doesn’t like us all in her house in LA, so we meet in Vegas, take advantage of cheaper hotel rates before Christmas, and hang out, eat and shop, go hiking in Red Rock Canyon. No one has to clean up, everyone has something to do, and Christmas is at home with just our nuclear family and friends. People freak out when I tell them that we go to Vegas, but there’s nothing that beats the “just us” for a quiet christmas.

    Although, another perk of being a single mom is, no in-laws!

  6. adequatemom on December 28th, 2010 7:52 pm

    I am so with you. My husband and daughter are my family, and the grandparents are bonuses. I love to see them and spend time with them and of course I love for them to spend time with their granddaughter … but it kind of has to be on our terms, in ways that make sense for us, you know? I think it’s wise to consider what traditions you’d be sad to see disappear, and what traditions you can live without … maybe some traditions only happen every second year, even. Be creative and be true to yourselves.

  7. Sharon on December 28th, 2010 7:54 pm

    My boys are 9&5 and I have felt the way you describe for a few years now. Usually I was the one hosting and doing all of the work on top of that. This year I said no to the big family gathering at our house and accepted an invitation for a smaller gathering with a few relatives It was peaceful, they loved having our loud boys for the day and I was relaxed. I hope the kids will remember the peaceful, non stressful times of the holidays.

  8. Kristin on December 28th, 2010 8:17 pm

    I’ve always had this guilt thing over not using our vacations to see family, not just over the holidays, but summers, spring breaks, etc. Recently, my husband has been trying to get me to stay home more. You see, those same people who we go out of our way to see once every year or two (5 kids & 15-20 hours driving one way!) don’t come to us. So… we have started staying home more, and taking vacations that don’t involve long drives to see family. And? I totally get the drama thing.

  9. Ashleas on December 28th, 2010 8:22 pm

    I’m a young woman, with no children or husband yet. I still live with my Mom. For Christmas Eve we would always go visit my Paternal Grandparents. First Grandma then Grandpa. At Grandma’s house, it would be my Dad’s brothers, their spouses and any children. At Grandpa’s it was always his new wife’s sister and her family. It was always.. awkward as.. well to be honest, my Dad is the best brother out of the three, the most accomplished and the most socially responsible. The others have had multiple marriages and divorces, one is clinically insane and the other is an alcoholic who lives off fraudulant welfare. Grandma dotes on them, of course, because they are her children, but is rather.. dense? My younger cousins were always on the wild side.. and I always felt incredibly uncomfortable there. With Grandpa and his wife’s family.. it just.. wasn’t very pleasant. Everything felt fake. Things are even more awkward now since Dad has passed. We only ever see these folks this one time of year (and have for many years) despite all living within one hour of each other.

    Christmas Day we spent with my Maternal grandparents whom I see on a monthly if not bi-weekly basis. We are much closer and things are much less awkward. Yet every Christmas Morning is a huge affair despite the seemingly innocent description of it. We don’t do a fancy dinner or breakfast. Sandwiches of meat, cheese with beans, meatballs, and cookies, and fudge. Yet my Mother and Grandmother drive myself, my Grandfather and my Father up the wall. They prepare for weeks! My Mother usually makes 4 to 5 batches of fudge, all different recipes before she goes back to her tried and true-we-know-it-will-come-out-perfect fudge. It’s always “what do you want?” despite the fact we have been eating the same for years. We always have to breakout the nice stuff, the nice platters.. even though it’s suppose to be.. all relaxed and lazy.

    I’ve never liked any of it really because there is so much stress. Who cares if you don’t make fudge the traditional way and instead throw some chocolate chips and marshmallow mix in the microwave and call it done? Do we really have to have 10 different types of holiday cookies and 3 types of sandwich meat when we all know we like turkey? Maybe I’m not conveying it.. but even our simple ‘just eat sandwiches and junkfood’ tradition turns into a hassle.

  10. Kate on December 28th, 2010 8:34 pm

    Thanks for this post. A few years ago, when we still lived in Alaska, we did spend a frantic seven to ten days traveling thousands of miles, alternating between families for Christmas and New Years in an attempt to appease everyone who didn’t get to see us the rest of the year. Endless hours trying to coordinate all the different travel plans of all the family members so everyone could be together. Blizzards, ice storms, meltdowns.
    Now that we live closer and can see grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings more frequently, I have put down my foot and refuse to spend the holidays in a car on icy roads with two small children, taking them from their home and comfort zone so that no one will be pissed (which never works anyway because there is always at least one person who feels slighted). We spend Christmas together, just the four of us. We eat what we want, when we want it. We open presents when we want, how we want. We call our families and wish them happy holidays and we enjoy our time together. Alone. And we love it!
    The guilt passes. Just saying.

  11. K on December 28th, 2010 8:35 pm

    Once my son turned three I refused to be anywhere but home on Christmas day. He’s 7 now and two kids later, we have kept that deal. What we do is travel to Florida to be with my family a few days after Christmas. That way my husband and I get to set our own traditions with our children and still be with family. Since we always do Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I don’t worry about going to see themm over Christmas. They come visit in January and we do Christmas then with them. I want the traditions that are important to us to always come first. Extended family comes second. My parents understand this and are fine with it. My in-laws not so much, but I don’t care. It’s not about them. It’s about my children.

  12. transientxpress on December 28th, 2010 8:53 pm

    I have specific memories of grandparents telling me to quiet down when I was getting crazy with my brother or cousins. It was awkward now and then, but my parents’ rule was to respect our elders, of course, and to know that we were a guest in someone else’s house and they had different rules than we had at home. I was told so many times by my mom that I didn’t have to like the rules, but I did have to follow them when I was there. I was probably six or seven the first time I remember being told by people other than my parents to settle down. I don’t remember my mom “hissing” much, or however you put it in that other post, but I did get . . . THE LOOK! I’m sure every mom has one. :) Maybe having this discussion with the boys and the in-laws will make things less stressful for everyone if they know what expectations have been laid out for all players involved? Bottom line: different house, different rules . . . and my parents always backed the hosts, but took the time to explain things to me and comfort me if I got upset.

  13. KateB on December 28th, 2010 9:00 pm

    My boys are about 6 months older than yours so I can understand where you are coming from. My husband always insisted (from the time we were dating) that his kids would wake up in their own house on Christmas morning. That sounds sort of prick-ish, but it wasn’t/isn’t. I totally agree with him. We live in St. Louis and my family is in Chicago (4-5 hour drive). For my oldest’s first three Christmases and my baby boy’s first, we spent Christmas Eve with his family here, Christmas morning at our own house, back to his parents’ for breakfast with brothers/sisters/cousins, and then drove to Chicago (stopping at Denny’s…only place open. Blech!) so we could be with my family for Christmas dinner. It was horrible!!!
    My brilliant husband waited me out and let me come to the decision that this just sucked and now we stay home. We’re with his family for a good chunk of both days, but I still have some space at my house and we have a nice, relaxing morning with just us and no rushing around. It is heavenly and just what we need.
    I usually go to Chicago on the 26th or 27th and see my family. While my mom wasn’t exactly happy about this, she understood. Also, we started discussing this in the summer. Don’t throw it on them in mid-December. And, really, who is your responsibility to: your boys or your in-laws? Easy choice I say…just have JB make the call! =0)

  14. KateB on December 28th, 2010 9:01 pm

    Holy crap! Sorry that was so long!

  15. transientxpress on December 28th, 2010 9:03 pm

    One other thing. If you really don’t want to mess with it all then don’t. At some point your in-laws quit going to their parents’ houses, right? I’m sure it was when they had kids. They’ll get over it. :)

  16. DY on December 28th, 2010 9:17 pm

    Growing up, both sets of grandparents (and most of the aunts and uncles, etc) lived within 10 minutes of each other and 20 from us, so we had big Christmases (though we always did the presents and tree at home first). Now we live I forget how many miles away (let’s just say that round trip this summer it was 5700 miles) so we’re on our own. I don’t mind it mostly, except I end up a little teary at the end of the day because of the memories I have of it being wonderful when I was a kid. We have a good time just with us and the kids don’t really know the difference, which I suppose is the part that really makes me sad.

  17. lisa on December 28th, 2010 10:24 pm

    Growing up, we went to my aunt & uncle’s house in the mountains. My dad hated to travel, so this was the only time I routinely saw my extended family, and I LOVED it. Seriously, I talked about that 4-day trip all year long.

    As I became a teenager, cousins started moving away from home and the tradition changed. Eventually, my parents and I were doing Christmas with just the three of us. It was…fine…nice…but just not the same. It felt a little empty.

    A few years into adulthood I hooked up with my husband and his crazy big Christmas routine–one house on Christmas Eve, then three houses on Christmas day (well, one of those is my parents house), and I instantly loved it! What he thinks is a hassle, I find an exciting, lively, loving day with family.

    Now that we have the small kids, he’s pushing to change the routine, and have everybody come to us. He grew up with the family coming to whatever house had the small children, precisely so they could experience the day in their own house. That’s what he’s always envisioned for his kids. For me, going out to somewhere exciting (someone else’s house!) and seeing their traditions, being part of their life for a while, that was the special part.

  18. Tracy on December 28th, 2010 10:53 pm

    I’ve always been surprised at how much holiday travel you guys do, especially now with two small kids. We just have a dog to deal with and the holiday travel can get overwhelming. My husband has 4 brothers, who all have kids, and since the kids, their family get together has always been after Christmas and it never seemed to cause any hurt feelings. I think you should be able to give your kids the kind of holiday you want them to have.

  19. Melissa on December 29th, 2010 12:10 am

    So curious about what you deleted. Judging from the comments it was something about seeing family on Christmas. My husband and I argue about it every. single. year. so I am always interested to see how others handle the multiple commitments. We have young children right now too and all the traveling is so hard on them!

  20. Diane on December 29th, 2010 3:59 am

    When my daughter was little Christmas day was always spent at home. Friends and relatives were welcome but it was an “at home” day. When my daughter married, she and her husband came to our house to have dinner and exchange gifts. When the first child came everything was reversed. Now we go to their house for dinner and to exchange gifts. We still get to enjoy the grandies enthusiasm, plus we get to play with all their new toys. Christmas morning is spent at home, very low key with just the two of us and we both enjoy it.So we are lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. Why not try just one year at home and judge the kids re-actions to the change. Take lots of pictures to share with everyone. Then go from there. Hope you enjoy a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!!

  21. NancyJ on December 29th, 2010 4:47 am

    I grew up with aunts, uncles, grandparents all in the same town so it was a non-issue. Christmas morning at home, followed by dinner at someone’s house on my mother’s side then evening at aunt’s house on my father’s side.
    With my son, my in-laws were 5 hours away so yeah, the first few years we spent Christmas there – packed everything up etc. but then when he was 4 or so we visited them the weekend before and then spent Christmas morning at our house. Much better.
    Now that we’re back with my family again it reverted back to the way I knew it. Christmas at home and family party that day.
    I always believe (and follow through) you have to do what works best for YOUR family – not everyone else. I can’t emphasize that enough.

  22. Quince on December 29th, 2010 5:21 am

    We live 2500 miles away from the in-laws and 250 miles away from my family, so we used to run ourselves ragged. Christmas Eve brunch with my family, drive 5 hours home, pack for a plane ride, wake up on Christmas morning, unwrap presents, rush to the airport, fly to Palm Springs, stay until NYE, come home. We did that game until our first child turned 3, then we said gently, “No, no more. We need to have our own memories as our own little nuclear family.” Everyone was remarkably cool about it, in part because we told them that we would still have Christmas with them if they wanted to do it… just the week before or after. And we stopped flying anywhere. My brother now lives 200 miles away from the parental homestead, and he has a son now, too. So 2 of the 3 of us are on the same game plan. It works out very well. We also tell anyone who wants to come to us that they are welcome to come spend Christmas with us.

    While we miss seeing everyone, our holidays have become restful, happier, and simpler. I think this is one thing that you just can’t replicate in today’s more spread-out-family culture. Unless you are lucky enough to live in the same city as extended family, you just can’t do the magic of running to Grandma’s on Christmas morning and having those special memories. And that’s ok. I think it’s far more important for our family to have nuclear family memories of Christmas morning at home. And you know what? The kids love that they get an extra “Christmas” at grandma’s house a week later. Just spreads out the joy.

  23. Amy on December 29th, 2010 8:56 am

    My husband and I (childless) still spend every third holiday season ALONE. We rotate between the families – his, mine, and ours.

  24. Mel T. on December 29th, 2010 9:37 am

    I missed the original full post but I think I get the gist of it from the comments. Once we had two small children, we (read: ME) announced that, from now on, we would be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas at our home with our children. We issued a permanent invitation to all of our immediate family (his parents, mine, etc.) to join us, and we basically said, “we’ll miss you if you decide not to come.” Hubs was in the military so sometimes we were within a few miles of family and sometimes we were across the country. I have to say it has worked out FANTASTICALLY well for us. Now that he is no longer in the military and we are in one place for more than 3 years, we still host the holidays and keep it as low key as we like. This year it was gifts, a big ham dinner, and a Balderdash marathon.

  25. Trina on December 29th, 2010 10:53 am

    So I was interested to see what your readers had to say. Thankfully growing up my extended family didn’t live out of town so we were able to have Christmas morning at home with a huge breakfast and presents and hanging out. Then at about 2pm we would get dressed and pack up and head to the grandparents house (we live in Seattle, they in Bellevue) and have a huge dinner with the extended family and some gifts and playing with the cousins.
    Now that I have kids and so does my brother we decided no more extended family (as in my aunts and uncles and cousins) because it was too much running around. Now we just go to my parents house and our kids play and we have dinner and presents and play the Wii. We all live very close to each other so it’s not like we are traveling more than 10 miles in any direction to see each other. So we can have our Christmas morning with the kids at home.
    Anyhow, last year my brother said he wanted to have Christmas with just his family at his house and we were all welcome to come to his house if we wanted. I had a real problem with this but it seems that most of your readers have done the same thing. For me, I understand if you have to drive really far like you guys do and you have to stay over for a few days to make it worth it. I wouldn’t do that. There is something about waking up in your own bed and Santa coming to YOUR house when you are a kid.

  26. Sunny on December 29th, 2010 11:05 am

    Missed the full post too, but I think I understand. Husband and I don’t have kids, but we both have very well-intentioned parents…and mothers who have a VERY hard time breaking from THEIR traditions re: Christmas and Thanksgiving. My husband also has a number of elderly Aunts and Uncles who expect a visit when we’re in town…and they also expect some sort of homemade goodie, so the baking & preparation is fucking endless.

    I reminded myself that we’re loved and lucky, but it did nothing to curb the stress level. Every holiday felt like a horserace and we were always running from one house to the next, looking at our watches to make sure we had enough time in the day to make the rounds before the required arrival time at the family du jour. This went on over Thanksgiving weekend and repeated at Christmas.

    My Mom would always comment that we never had a chance to see our friends with all of the running around, yet she never eased the fuck up on the schedule. It was maddening and my husband and I were exhausted making the 4 1/2 hour drive back home (once 13 hours when the pass and roads in E Washington were pure ice).

    About 3 years ago we vowed that we needed to make a change. No one was ever going to tell us to stay home and relax, no one was ever going to tell us to get away and do something WE wanted to do. Fuck it, we had to be the bad guys. We decided to keep Thanksgiving to ourselves. We’d pick a place to travel and enjoy the hell out of our days off. We each had to break the news to the mothers, who weren’t thrilled. We stood our ground, told them it wasn’t personal and did it. Since then, we’ve spent lazy Thanksgivings in Cannon Beach, San Francisco and Palm Springs.

    Each year the Moms take a run at changing our Thanksgiving plan, but we refuse to consider their request and remind them that we’ll be over in a month for Christmas. We haven’t been able to cure the chaos at Christmas, but the relaxation at Thanksgiving gives us time to recharge and mentally prepare for the shitstorm.

    Good luck. Just remember that no one is going to tell you to slow down and take time for yourselves. You’ve got to grab it and be selfish. You and your family deserve it.

  27. Sarah Lena on December 29th, 2010 11:59 am

    In my world, holidays = family = anxiety = too much food. None of these things create a happy ending. I actually had to pull my mother aside on Christmas Day and whisper that if she and my father could not stop snapping at eachother – hateful, loud, obvious snapping – that I would be loading my family back up and we would be leaving. She thought I was joking, and my father met her eyes and said, “And I’m going with her.”

    Christmas is a sacred time for me, a time when everything is supposed to be lazily perfect, and if anyone screws with that? They can do it by their lonesome as we will not be there to witness it.

  28. Ali on December 29th, 2010 12:16 pm

    I second Sarah Lena, man. My parents/family are the same; what with the backbiting and snapping and stomach-cramp-inducing stress. So, my husband and I decided that anyone who cannot behve civilly is not allowed. Period. We actually had to TELL our (divorced) parents this. And you know, it worked.

    Holidays are meant to be ENJOYED! Relish these holidays. Make them your own. Personally, I’d take having a fun, laughter-and-kid-squeal-filled holiday that ends with someone’s dog stealing the turkey off the table over a serene Norman Rockwell painting any day. Those people look bored.

    So, I don’t know if my little story is helpful or not, except to say that there is a peace for you and your family within these holidays, just waiting for you to claim it.

  29. jwoap on December 29th, 2010 12:22 pm

    Linda, You deleted before I could read but by the comments of your readers it seems you are in a quandry about what to do Christmas wise and traveling.

    Each year since Nick’s been born we spend Christmas Eve with my folks in Seattle and then drive our happy asses back to Oregon and spend Christmas day with my husbands parents.

    Our son solved this for us as it was run run run and stress stress stress. — He said “I want to wake up in my own bed on Christmas morning”

    And so Christmas now is with just the three of us. Family is welcome to come to our home if they choose but our days of traveling are over.

    You are a great Mom Linda, you are going to make the best decisions for your family.

  30. Andrea on December 29th, 2010 12:58 pm

    I too missed the original post, but get the gist (I think) from comments.

    What do the kids want to do? Will they be sad if you don’t take the annual trip there for Christmas? What about JB?

  31. crisi-tunity on December 29th, 2010 1:31 pm

    Who lives in that top house? Can we murder them and pretend to be their heirs? I promise I’ll be a quiet, considerate roommate.

  32. Kristin H on December 29th, 2010 1:55 pm

    I didn’t read through all the comments so I apologize if someone’s already mentioned this. But if the in-laws really were stressed, maybe their feelings wouldn’t actually be too hurt if you decided not to come. I decided a few years ago not to travel for Christmas anymore and it’s been really nice.

  33. warcrygirl on December 30th, 2010 6:06 am

    Dammit, I need to put my Crackberry down and get on my computer more. Totally missed the deleted scenes, as it were, but from the gist of your comments I think I can add my day-late/dollar-short comment: we simply don’t have any traditions. It’s not that I don’t care about Christmas but I just don’t really do much in the way of any traditions. We do open our gifts in our pajamas so I guess that could be one, and we do leave our Christmas lights on all night on Christmas Eve (so that Santa can find the house easier) but now that my youngest has debunked the whole Santa-thing that’s more of a habit, really. Not sure what my kids are going to remember about Christmas at home (ALL of my family lives about 1,000 miles away!) but they’re old enough I can ask them.

    As far as the inlaws (and/or whatever else was troubling you) I’m sure you’ll do what’s right for YOUR family. You have a good head on your shoulders and have your priorities straight; if anyone has their panties in a bunch then hey, guess what? THEIR PROBLEM. Case closed. Have a Happy New Year!

  34. Laura on January 5th, 2011 3:16 pm

    And now, more than a week later, I have nothing to add to the sane holiday advice given here.

    However, we live in Waldport, OR, just 8 miles north of Yachats, and go to Yachats for lunch at least once each weekend. The stretch of highway between Waldport and Yachats is my absolute favorite part of the Oregon coast, and your description, “Oh, it’s such a beautiful area—wild and salty and glorious,” captures it perfectly. Even if the weather is inclement, we always stop and look at the ocean at Yachats State Park.

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