In recent years, Christmas has become a trial for my family - well, at least for me to be with my family. We've been going through the motions but there wasn't much of the spirit of Christmas left in it for me.
My father died just before Christmas 17 years ago. I know it sounds a long time but when you miss someone it isn't long at all. Five years ago my nephew died just a couple of days before Christmas. In fact, that year my daughter and I lost three who were very close to us, just before Christmas. And Christmas still isn't what I think it's supposed to be. The pain of grief revisits each time and the sparkle has gone.
This year I decided I wanted to get away from the family completely, just to see if I could enjoy that time of year at all. There was one restriction: I didn't want to spend the time away from my daughter. That lead to another restriction: she didn't want to spend the time away from the extended family! You guessed it. We all went away - at least the ones who could make it.
I didn't get my wish to get away from the family but at least we got away from familiar surroundings. We went to a resort and walked on the beach, kayaked and sailed on the lake, 'played' tennis (what we do with a tennis racquet and ball isn't recognisable as any game) and generally ate far too much. We did the Christmas gift thing, watched Christmas DVDs and played board games. We didn't spend the whole three days in each others' pockets; there was space and time to do our own thing. Having said that, I think we spent more time together in those three days than we have in recent years combined.
It was good. Going away allowed me to connect with my family again for a significant period of time. It allowed me to leave the sad memories behind for a while and enjoy the moment for what it was. I'd like to do it again and will start negotiations early in the new year. At this point I have no expectations. It might not come off the way it did this year, but I'll float the idea and see what everyone else thinks.
A cruise sounds fun.