Christmas can be stressful – so Emily Writes decided to do something about it by giving up on festive travel. She explains why you should join her in refusing to budge this Christmas.
I’m going to say straight up that nobody should be forced to travel at Christmas. Lots of people love travelling, they love road trips – they love heading up north or down south to see families. I am not one of those people. And over the past few years I’ve come to discover many, many people feel the same way I do.
Three Christmases ago my husband and I made a call that we would never travel on Christmas Day again. And it’s quite frankly the best Christmas decision we’ve ever made.
The Christmas that ended it for me came after two other rubbish Christmases. So it was cumulative. But travelling to Auckland from Wellington while 35 weeks pregnant with a baby that would eventually smash through my vag weighing 11 pounds definitely was a deciding factor. I ended up asleep in an aunty’s room with a fan on me, vomiting into a bucket which I then had to clean out so nobody would notice and make a big deal out of it.
Was it lovely to see family? Of course. Was there any other upside to being in Auckland, that pregnant, and spending half the day in the car attempting to visit three different families? No.
The Christmas before my sister and I fought (we almost never fight) because the stress of Christmas is hideous. We spent almost all of our savings having to rent a house and ended up leaving two days early. It was a nightmare.
The Christmases since have been joyous. We wake up knowing we’re not going anywhere. There’s no rushing. My husband cooks throughout the day. I jump in the paddling pool with the kids, they play with their presents – and then we are joined by orphans and any family that are around. Sometimes it’s just us; this year it will be two aunties and my husband’s mum.
It’s perfect. Almost no stress and the kids visit their cousins throughout the year. Do I wonder if they’re missing out on the big family Christmases I had? Sometimes. But then I also think it’s important that everyone gets a break at Christmas. We work so hard all year, why should we spend days travelling and then have a day full of stress?
So, after establishing the fact that nobody should have to travel, I do have a hierarchy for those who keep giving their family shit for not travelling. I’m lucky that our family accepts we don’t travel and will come to us if they want to see us. But that’s clearly not the case for others, so here’s my list. If you’re any of the following you are in my opinion, completely exempt from travelling if you don’t want to. And nobody is allowed to say shit to you.
If you are pregnant and tired you don’t have to travel and entertain anyone at Christmas. You are exempt from a day of unsolicited belly rubs and comments about how you’re too big/small.
If you are a parent of an under five-year-old. I could basically say a parent of any kind, but teens I imagine do their own thing on Christmas so I’m focusing on under 5s. Car rides with under 5s are heinous and the only time you should have to do them is if you have to go to a tangi. If people want to see the kids they should come to you. And they should also leave after a certain amount of time after helping to clean up.
If you are the parent of a baby you don’t have to travel. You’ll be exhausted. Great aunts will try to stick their finger in your kid’s mouth – you’ll end up having to cook even though your vagina is falling out. If you want to skip the whole thing, do it! It’s your first Christmas as a new family, you can do it!
If you are a single woman with no kids or a woman in a long-term relationship who isn’t married YET or a woman who doesn’t want kids or hasn’t had kids. Oh lord I spent ten years with my partner before I said to him I cannot handle one more person asking us why we’re not married let’s just do it FFS. If you’re a woman of almost any age, and you have to deal with personal questions all day, you can skip it. Nobody has the right to grill you on any aspect of your life. You’re not an incubator. Nobody has the right to judge you – especially your cousin who makes terrible life choices. Your uncle who has been married three times doesn’t get to ask you why you don’t have a boyfriend.
If you’re old. You’ve done your dash. If you don’t want to see your family you don’t have to. I doubt my liver will get me to 100 but if it does I plan on attending Christmases so I can sit in the corner and judge. But if you just want to listen to RNZ and be left in peace you do you, grandma.
If your family sucks. If you want to avoid your horrible aunt who is obsessed with birds and thinks she’s some kind of hawk whisperer but she just looks like the crazy bird lady in Home Alone and she is always on Facebook talking about how trans people are invented by Jewish people you can! You don’t need to be around people who are awful just because they’re family. You matter and Christmas is meant to be a day where you feel loved. Be with people who are loving and kind – family or not.
Ultimately, Christmas shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a happy day filled with joy and all that other good shit. You are allowed to protect yourself so you don’t feel shit on Christmas Day.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.