Rainbows from a dining room window hanging crystal are dancing around over the keyboard to my iMac. It is a beautiful day. Yes, my computer is still in the living area of my home. It was supposed to go back into my office before the kids visited over the last 10 days. I simply didn’t get that far into preparations before the Spring Family Visit happened. I will move it back to my office eventually, but I so want and need to get back to work that my move back into my office will just have to wait even though the puppy is going on 8 months old and does not have to be watched every single minute. Prep and then 10 days without posting has left me “Jones-ing” for written words!
I am now a major proponent of off-season, non-Holiday visits. True, Christmas was a bit weird for us without any kids here, but the cost/benefit ratio now tips heavily in favor of the non-Holiday visit for several reasons even if writing did have to drop in priority.
There are several food related reasons for off-season family gatherings – food and family gatherings just go together in soooo many ways: Shopping is a breeze during an off-season compared to holiday shopping. The expectations for sweets and other non-healthy dishes vanishes when removed from the “trigger” holiday. You can vary menus from traditional ones that you may not like to prepare or eat. Or you can declare it a certain holiday because you want to cook items associated with it. Is there really anything wrong with a festively decorated cookie any time of the year when grandchildren are involved?
The other food related benefit I found during this Spring Family Holiday is that I could pack my freezer with nicely nested items, like tamales from my favorite tamale place, ice packs for “boo boos” and other likely needed food items or ingredients that I can grab out of the freezer whenever needed and not have it filled with essential ingredients for required holiday-specific eating that muscles out easy, necessary items.
I loved being able to make corned-beef and cabbage, ham and potato salad, strawberry crepes, blueberry pancakes, cauliflower cheese pie with hash-brown crust, tacos and mounds of guacamole served with margaritas, and everyone’s favorite comfort foods all within the space of 10 days.
Arizona is a place where people come to get out of the freezer. When you are talking non-summer climate, Arizona almost always wins, hands down.
And there is the climate related fact that our youngest hates to fly. We’ve changed flights, at the last-minute, only to have the original flight crash without survivors. She has been on flights where the cabin filled with smoke and the oxygen masks dropped. She has been on flights that diverted and returned to the originating airport when engine troubles developed. Add flying mid-winter to that mix and she starts to freak out about flying. It is much easier for her to fly during non-icy times, which excludes the winter holidays.
We live in a state where March often has near perfect weather. Sure it is warmer here in December than other places, but October or March are so wonderful that the jacket, light admittedly, or umbrella-wielding weather of December loses out in this comparison.
We’re in Arizona. My step daughter, her husband and their two-year old twin girls live in Brooklyn. Zilla lives in the Twin Cities. Family get-togethers cannot take place without someone flying from somewhere. The financial cost of flying during a Holiday period is rivaled by almost no other travel cost. The rates are extremely high, options are limited, and changes will be nightmarish. You can find some good rates on family friendly flights (times, direct flights, short layovers, preferred routes) when you are flying “off-season.”
Attitudes improve greatly when travel is leisurely rather than frenzied, when one set of kids can come a few days before the other kid, as best fits their schedule, and leave sooner, for some personal time with parents. The other kids can also layer and offset trips a bit, so crowding and competition is limited to a minimal number of middle days.
The winter holidays can be especially difficult if any family member suffers with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The stress of planning, preparing, and travels can make a difficult season almost intolerable, for everyone involved, so shifting major gathers allows everyone to be in an optimal mood.
Quite simply everything is easier when a task can be completed without the competition and clutter of having seemingly everyone attempting to do the same thing or being in the same place as I need to be to accomplish my goal. To go to the Honey Baked Ham store is no problem, there is no line coming out the door and wrapping around the building as there would be at Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter. Need to run to the local mall to pick up a last-minute item? It is simple, just park next to the store you need to visit and run in and get the item. There is no parking at the far end of the overflow lot and dodging through crowds only to find out the item you need is out of stock.
The timing of visit by my Zilla helped her as she starts our in her career area. As an employee of less than one year, she is pretty low on the company hierarchy when it comes to who gets to use vacation days in combination with Holiday time off. She had to use 5 days worth of leave to come home rather than the 3 she might have used in combination with Holiday closures days had this taken place between Christmas and New Years Day, but she made a good impression on management and co-workers by gladly working during the Holiday period. And there is also the bonus of people knowing how much she does every regular old day when she is the only change in the office equation rather than during the frenzy of a Holiday periods when everything shifts from normal and it becomes more difficult to isolate changes in the workplace.
I FEEL GOOD
I am so pleased that our family gathering that began on March 14th and just ended yesterday on the 24th went exceptionally well. I can’t imagine having family from all over the country and friends from the next state over visit in our home in some combination for 10 days solid and being in as good of a mood as I am today had we done this at Christmas-time.
Have you ever moved, combined, or created a family gathering to a non-traditional time? How did it go?
GBE2 Prompt for Week 95: “out of the freezer”