Being away from family and friends can be hard, especially during the holiday season.
How can I explain to my aging mother that this year I’ll spend Christmas and New Year’s in my home country, with her grown-up grandkids and my in-laws instead of traveling to see her?
I can hear the disappointment in her voice as she shares her plans to spend time with my younger brother and his family. Then, she tells me that there’s a possibility that my brother and sister-in-law will travel for the 1st of January, and in that case, she might go out for New Year’s Eve dinner with her boyfriend, and then dance the night away at the local senior community center.
Like many families who live abroad, a large percentage of my family vacation time is spent visiting relatives. These days, we live in the United States, so we’re close to part of my American family, and travel as frequently as possible to visit my Brazilian folks.
I’m accustomed to guilty feelings during the holiday season. Most years, my husband and I debate where to go for the end of the year festivities while trying to making the maximum number of family members happy.
I’ve noticed that these contradictions are common for families who live abroad, especially when there is more than one home country involved.
For me, upon deciding on one plan, my emotions come to the surface when it’s time to share the news with the other side of the family.
This year, rationally, I know that my mom will be just fine and have fun too, even if I’m not there. Still, I have to convince myself that this is the right decision. After all, I’ve made the journey from New York to Sao Paulo three times in 2018 alone. Also, I’ll visit my mom in the first quarter of the New Year.
The truth is, while family traditions have an undeniable appeal, sometimes they have to be put aside in favor of accommodating our wishes as well without hurt feelings and with as little guilt it as possible.