December 9, 2014

These Favorite Holiday Plans

13 days.

Even though we've been blessed with a long and cool fall, and we are beyond thankful that the temperatures didn't drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit until December . . .

We are dying to go to Spain.

Before we make decisions.
Back in 2010/2011 when This Europe Thing was just an idea, maybe for fun, maybe for real, we had to ask ourselves a lot of questions.

Can we afford it? How long will we want to live overseas? Can we be happy in Europe? What countries do we think we can actually live in? Will we survive the cold? Will we be homesick? How will it affect our family/friend relationships? Will the rewards outweigh the risks?

One of the big things to consider was the fact that the sports seasons last from September to May.

What would we do for Christmas?

While we make decisions.
We quickly realized that shelling out $2000 to fly 15 hours each way to California and back for 2 weeks of 9-hour-time-change-jetlag and exhausting ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally by trying to keep 2 families happy . . . was not a good idea. We couldn't justify spending that much money to deal with the really brutal time difference. I receive one paid plane ticket every year from my club. I can use it for 2 weeks or 2 months. This is not a complicated decision.

Marc and I were legitimately wary of our first Christmas abroad. We had both spent 2 separate weeks back in California to finish our visas in October/November. We were waiting for ideas. "Wouldn't it be great to go somewhere awesome . . ." kept on as our recurring conversation. About a week before the vacation was to start, I saw an advertisement for a cruise.

Our tradition of destination Christmases was born.

A Mediterranean cruise. A week in Rome. A road trip to the châteaux of the Loire Valley. And this year: 10 days in Madrid, Granada, and Málaga.

Christmas has become our favorite holiday, and here's why.
1) Winter sunshine is important. We always head south.

2) It's 2 solid weeks off; more than enough time to visit nearby European cities and still have recovery time before getting back to work.

3) We don't do gifts anymore. Turns out we really don't like carrying more stuff every time we move. We get each other trips, and experiences don't weigh anything.

[Our holiday partner in crime, Jes, has the best Christmas gift rule: "I only buy gifts for children." Amen.]
Jes, Tree, Colosseum, Marc, Swags: GREAT decision.
4) We don't decorate. I love Christmas decorations . . . outside, in someone else's house, at the mall . . . basically anywhere that I don't have to set them up, tear them down, store them somewhere for 11 months of the year (or carry the boxes the next time we move).

5) We turned what could have been an annually terrible, sad day for us away from family and friends into a special time of growing together and creating memories that a lot of people only dream about.
You can trust us, we promise.
I've said this often, but it can never be said enough: we are not stereotypical married people (whatever that means in 2014). We're happily different. Please don't misunderstand our logic and be sad for us (especially about our childfree status). Feeling sorry for us is a waste of your emotions. Be sad and pray for those who face world hunger, terminal diseases, and devastating poverty.

We make the best out of the situations that face us, and we commit enthusiastically to whatever we are able to do. We're very fortunate to have found a kindred spirit in this world, and even more fortunate to love and learn together in incredible places.

We've decided to love what we have together.
And our next incredible places will be in Spain.