I know New Years was 14 days ago, but my new year starts today. As I celebrate my 37th birthday, I am looking back over these past few years with gratitude. I have now spent 3 Christmases, 3 New Years, 3 Thanksgivings, and 3 birthdays outside of the USA. How we have celebrated these things have changed over the years, but these changes happened before we left.
If you ask my children what was their best Christmas ever, they would all say our trip to New Mexico in 2014. That year, my husband thought that we should not exchange gifts. He thought we should focus on experiences. We loaded up our minivan and drove from Beaumont, TX to Taos, NM. We made a reservation at the cutest bed and breakfast and spent our days sledding down the sides of snow capped mountains. It was so cold at night. We ordered take out and rented movies. We roasted marshmallows over a warm fire and drank hot cocoa. It wasn’t a fancy place. It wasn’t even a grand bed and breakfast. We didn’t spend a lot of money, but we had the best time. We laughed and spent time together. Such a simple thing but that Christmas was what it should have been; a time to be with those you love.
This holiday adventure carried on. Our first Christmas in Spain was like a fairytale. My parents came to visit. This was my mother’s first time outside of the country. There wasn’t a huge tree with fancy expensive gifts, but we did whatever the locals did. We were content to simply be together.
We no longer live in the village we lived in 2015, but my mother still speaks of that Christmas. She says it was one of her most memorable.
This year 2017, we drove to Gibraltar to hike up The Rock for New Years. When we checked into our AirB&B, we were immediately giddy about watching TV in English. There weren't any restaurants open when we arrived but we found a coffee shop to stock up on a variety of muffins and ready made sandwiches. We brought in the New Year in the town square. Woke up early the next morning for our close encounter with the primates. We had a good time and once again created another memory.
I’m not anti-gifts, but I am so pro-experiences. Spending our holidays traveling and enjoying each other’s company has made my family closer. It’s given my children a new perspective on how others live. Travel has allowed us to learn about the customs of others, building on our family holiday traditions. We have met many amazing people who have added to our travels as well as enriched our lives as a whole.
What these 3 years have taught me is that there is not one way. There are 7 billion people in the world; therefore are 7 billion different ways of looking at this big blue ball we live on. I have learned to shed my preconceived ideas of what is and simply go with the flow. We all have family customs that can be taboo to shift during the holidays, but holiday travel has been one of the most rewarding experiences throughout this journey. It has granted us the underrated gift of simplicity.
Candice is an introverted extrovert who loves to read, wander aimlessly and is addicted to olives. She is a photographer and loves to share travel experiences. She is married to the best husband ever hands down and they have 3 wonderful creations.