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Refreshing Solution to Stress-Filled Travel

Do you ever feel stressed by having to fit everyone in at the holidays? What if you could find a way to enjoy your loved ones more—without the guilt or frustration? I know this is possible because it happened just this year for my family. And I'm still smiling.

My Mother's Game-Changing Email

My father had been talking since February about coming out to San Diego for Thanksgiving. My mother, on the other hand, had no interest in hopping on a plane at the busiest time of the year and dealing with crowded airports.

So one morning she sent the entire family an email saying why don’t we meet up for a long weekend in Chicago—outside the holidays or in between. One by one we each chimed in, letting her know we were enthusiastically on board.

We love each other, but we’re not the Brady Bunch

This was our first family vacation since 1992 and as you can imagine, planning it took some effort. Lots of back and forth just to figure out a weekend that would work. (We settled on the weekend before Thanksgiving.) Then finding a hotel we could all agree on.

Yet little by little the plans fell into place. Many of us even chose to fly or drive in a night early. So many fun moments—a few of them planned, most of them spontaneous—but the point for now is simply this:

Celebrating outside the holidays added life to the holidays

For one thing, we had more time to enjoy each other's company. Instead of having only fragments of conversations, we actually had time to visit in ways that were meaningful and memorable.

When Thanksgiving came, not only were we still warm from good memories of the weekend before, we all woke up in our own beds! The same will be true for Christmas.

Just as with Thanksgiving, there will still be family celebrations, because all of us have family nearby. But there won't be the typical stress of trying to fit everyone in on the same day. Talk about the best of all worlds.

There's still time to make this work in your family

Why not suggest a family gathering in mid-December? Or during the week between Christmas and New Year's?

Though you might meet with resistance in the short term, you might find it forever lightens the load in the long term. Likewise when you accept that having houseguests is a choice, not an obligation.

The point is, sometimes we get locked into patterns of doing things, especially at the holidays, that no longer spark joy—or simply don't work. Why not find new ways to celebrate while honoring the holidays’ true meaning?

Sometimes our holiday MO no longer sparks joy. Why not celebrate in ways that do?

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at