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Holidays Away; Non-Traditional but Still Special

Holidays in our house are a small affair but a big deal. We live in a state where none of our other relatives live and in truth, the number of relatives we have is pretty small to begin with. Many of our holidays have been spent making new memories with the 6 of us rather than doing the same things we did as children. Sometimes I have a longing for the huge holidays of my childhood but usually I embrace the days off of school as one more opportunity to travel. If you are gone on a holiday, it is not going to be the normal, big meal, hang out at home all day, typical holiday. No matter where we are we still try to make holidays special for our kids.

If it were not for hotel Santa's we wouldn't have any photos with him.

New Year’s- If we can get friends to go with us, it does not matter where we are on New Year’s Eve! But if we end up alone in a hotel on a road trip, we play games, eat appetizers for our meal, get fancy drinks and try to stay up until the ball drops. It is definitely not as fun as being with friends, but if we offer enough junk food the kids are ok with it.

Renting a house with three friends for a New Year's in the Colorado Mountains

Easter- For our kids, the important part of Easter is the jelly bean hunt and finding their Easter baskets. If we are on a trip, we will hide candy all over the room and have some adaptation of a basket ready in advance. Our best Easter away was in England where we found a candy store that sold an entire Easter kit with signs, bunny foot prints and amazing candy. The kids now think that the English Easter Bunny is way cooler than the US one. Our best Easter baskets were travel-sized toiletries bags with their first initial on them. To this day, we still use them.

4th of July- Sorry kids, but if you are not in the US, this isn’t happening. If we are here, we find the local parade and fireworks, dress in red, white, and blue and try to have as much fun as we did when we were on a lake in MN for the 4th.

Halloween- Our fall break fell over Halloween our first three years in CO and the kids were devastated to miss trick or treating, despite the fact that we were on cruises where you could dress up and go trick or treating. We still can’t figure out what the difference was, but have to respect that we wrecked these holidays for them.

Trick or Treating with Mickey apparently isn't as good as going house to house.

Thanksgiving- Ever since we stopped going to my aunt’s house with 30-40 people, Thanksgiving has been a non-holiday in my world. We spend a bunch of time making a turkey dinner that only one of our kids really likes and then we start decorating for Christmas. Games with our small group are nothing like the giant, loud charade games of my childhood. Because of this, this is an easy one for us to miss. Now, whether we are home or gone, we spend half of the day outside because what is there to be more thankful for than nature. If we are on a trip, instead of a big diner at home, we eat out. This has worked great, except the year we were in San Francisco and could only find a Denny’s open for dinner! It was Moons Over My Hammie and Grand Slams instead of turkey and stuffing.

Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco hiking in the Muir Woods

Christmas—Our kids really struggle with being gone on December 24th and 25th. They will happily be gone the rest of the break but really want to be home these days. Again, we are not really sure why when half of them do not want to eat the big meal and they still get the same amount of presents whether we open them on Christmas Eve or some other day. Still, we end up being gone almost every other year and we work really hard to make it special. When our kids were really young and Santa visited our house on Christmas Eve we actually packed a Santa suit in the roof rack and paid one of my mother-in-law’s neighbors to come over and deliver presents! They were shocked at that one. We have also packed a small tree and decorations to decorate our hotel room. Of course, the stockings come with us when we will be gone. Magically, they are always filled too, despite the tight sleeping arrangements sometimes. We will often go to a church service or a show at a local theater to celebrate Christmas when we are gone. Hotels always have special activities like cookie decorating, screenings of Charlie Brown Christmas, giant gingerbread houses and much more than we would ever do if we were hanging out at home for the holiday. For meals, we have had fancy meals out, eaten crock pot tacos after skiing, and taken a horse drawn sleigh to dinner at a barn. In the future, when we look back and think about Christmas, I think they will have fond memories of our Christmases spent away.

Birthdays- In our house you get to pick a special activity for your birthday and we serve breakfast in bed on the morning of your birthday. This doesn't change if we are on a trip. The bonus is that you can actually pick your destination if we are in the middle of a longer trip. Our oldest has chosen Rome and Venice and picked dessert and pasta spots on both occasions for her dinner. Our littlest tends to choose skiing and likes to get her photo near the "piece o cake" run so she can see how much bigger she got over the years.

Everyone should celebrate their birthday with a "Piece-O-Cake" at Beaver Creek ski resort!

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