I love the holidays.  Spending time with the family, sharing laughter, eating great food, and the most memorable part: getting help taking care of the children.  Almost everything is wonderful.  Almost.

We do our best to make it a happy holiday season, but with small children, that happiness comes at a price.   (I often pay in sanity and the black of my hair…)

Travel.  Ugh.

I hate travelling.  We live on the left coast.  Both sets of grandparents are on the wrong coast.  Air travel is a must and becomes part of our holiday planning.  Before children, I loved flying days.  Years ago, I’d fill my backpack with magazines (yes, the paper ones), music headphones, and arrive at the airport early just so I could hang out and putz around (what people without kids call ‘living’).  I didn’t have to do anything, save for getting on the plane before it left the gate.  After having spawned a pair of mini-me’s, air travel officially sucks.

Nowadays, before we leave for a trip, I fill my backpack with my son’s dvd player, his headphones, his movies, forty-seven of his favorite toys all piled on top of my trusty laptop and camera (neither of which I’ll get to use during the flight).  My backpack isn’t quite large enough to hold the essentials, of course.  So, I also carry a diaper bag (or my purse, as Worm calls it) with food, drink and diapers to manage a full day of bodily functions for dos pequeños niños.  This 40 lbs of stuff must stay close (read: under the seat in front of us) to prevent our children from spontaneously gushing fluids, suddenly starving, or imploding from stimulus deprivation.  (Translation:  I can’t stretch out my legs without crushing gummy bunnies and teething crackers.)

Then for the entire trip, I’m basically shushing, wiping, grabbing, restraining, carrying, feeding, smelling, changing, holding, pushing, dragging, or cleaning someone.  Sure the kids nap.  But once either of them senses my guard dropping, he or she wakes up to put me back on duty.  (They work in shifts, I swear.)

Sure travelling with small children is awful, but it’s not really what’s eating at me.  Steph and I eventually want to build our own family traditions.  We want to bake cookies, decorate gingerbread men, sing Christmas songs, play games, drink hot cocoa, make snowmen (yes, there’s snow nearby), draw holiday decorations, read the Night Before Christmas on the night before Christmas, and all of the other fun things to do while waiting for Santa to come down our fireplace on Taiwan’s Constitution Day.  The pandemonium of going across the country with two small children doesn’t provide us with quite the opportunity to instill those things on our children.  We’re too focused on all the trip details, schedules, and logistics planning.  And these next few years for our children are the ones that can be molded into those magical memories that they will cherish.  We want it to be exciting for them and (to be a little selfish, here) fun for us, too.  I don’t want Worm and Smushie to remember the inside of the car and the airport when they recall the holidays.  I wish we weren’t so far away from the grandparents, but we have to work with what we’ve got at the moment.  In an ideal world, our holiday would be more like Christmas Vacation (maybe minus Cousin Eddie) and less like  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  I just don’t know how to work it all out so that everyone gets what they want for Christmas.

Come on Worm, Put a Smile on Your Face!  We'll See the Nanas and Papas Soon!

Come on Worm, Put a Smile on Your Face! We’ll See the Nanas and Papas Soon!