The past three years have brought inconsistent Christmases. First, we had a new baby; last year, we headed to a horse farm in upstate New York; this year, Christmas was hosted by Colin’s brother in the suburbs of Philadelphia. With a conveniently-scheduled school break, and with our daughter having just aged out of free flights, we took advantage of our ample time and saved some money by driving up north.
Bébé has never been on a car ride so long and we were a bit nervous as to how her energetic two-year-old self would handle sitting still for so long. We planned for an overnight stop somewhere in Virginia, the exact location dependent on just how far we could manage on the first day of our drive. We were aiming for Strasburg, Virginia, a stop that we serendipitously discovered on a trip up north several years ago. Lucky for us, Lu was a rock star toddler, and we made it the whole nine hours to Strasburg with no annoyance or incident. We stayed at the Hotel Strasburg, a beautiful old Victorian building just off Main Street in this quiet Shenandoah Valley town. We arrived to a warm welcome, a cozy meal and a cold pint in the hotel’s pub, and a good night’s sleep in a comfortable King-sized bed. It felt just like a winter stay at an Irish inn, and now we have a new retirement plan of opening our own cozy guesthouse.
The next morning we enjoyed a brisk walk in the cold, quickly taking in this quiet town, before hitting the road.
Everyone has moved away from Colin’s hometown, so for Christmas family dinner, we moved from upstate suburbs to the shores of Queens where Colin’s aunt, uncle, and cousins now all live in the Rockaways. This drastic change in scenery inspired a new holiday outing: Christmas Eve walk on the beach. Several years ago, we attended a December wedding in Cape May, NJ, and I marveled at winter in a locale that is so tightly associated with the exact opposite season. It was an awe-inspiring new experience then, and this one, many years later, was just as spectacular.
I’ve always been very much a traditionalist during holidays. (Colin’s mom, too.) But as life has forced changes to the norm, I find myself increasingly excited about the endless array of new possibilities that are available when you’re not tied to a single plan. What matters is who you are with; so why not venture out with those you love most and explore new experiences?