Every year as the calendar inches closer and closer to Christmas I get more and more stressed. I love shopping as much as any other lady, but Christmas shopping is what I refer to as "Forced Shopping." Who likes to be forced to shop, certainly not me. Secret Santa or name exchanges are the worse...that usually means I am going to have to find something to buy for someone I wouldn't normally shop for because I wouldn't know what to buy them even if I had the striking to shop for them. Anyway, this year I decided I was not participating. I refused to get caught up in buying a bunch of crap that people probably didn't want anyway cause if they did want it they would have purchased it for themselves. Just before deciding to refuse to participate I took a poll in our household. Not one of the Artis 6 could name more than 2 gifts they have received in the past couple of years besides clothing and shoes. Once the results were in I decided instead of buying christmas crap we would take a family vacation. Surprisingly enough every child could remember most family vacations we have taken. As I listened to them recount our adventures their little faces brightened up and huge grins appeared as their minds took them back to wonderful memories of fun and frolic and stress free parents. That did it for me. We quickly decided to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays in Florida. What's better than 70 degree weather when its snowing at your house? We are a family of people who are extremely attached to extended family so we invited everyone and tried to convince as many family members as possible to go.
Christmas day we gave each child one small gift, ate breakfast together, laughed, played, and watched movies while waiting on the crew of family members to arrive. Early the next morning, we left snow and darkness and headed for FL in a huge 15 passenger van...I need to make a side note here to say that normally we hop on the train to go to FL. Its a wonderful option for folks with more than 3 kids. Not only is it affordable but the kids can walk around and eat snacks that you pack from home while someone else does all the driving. Its great! Unfortunately, because this wasn't a trip planned well in advance, train tickets were sold out. So we drove. We rented a huge 6 bedroom vacation home for a mere $750 for 8 days....thats cheaper that one night would have cost all of us. Once there we did Busch Gardens Tampa this year and shopped and slept and partied and watched TV and guess what I have heard NO complaints about not getting tons of Christmas gifts. As a matter of fact I am listened to the kids complain about leaving FL too early. So it goes without saying that I have officially been delivered from "Forced Shopping." From now on we will travel during Christmas. As a matter of fact I'm thinking a cruise next year..with the cruise I won't have to cook, clean, or plan tons of things for the kids to do because someone else has already thought of all that for me....maybe the Bahamas or Mexico or Turks and Caicos...you should join us.