I always tell people that it was my favorite Christmas because it was.
In 2017, my daughter studied abroad in Rome, Italy. She lived with a family there while attending Temple University in Rome, and traveled all over Europe on weekends. When her semester was over in December, we decided to take our sons and meet her in Rome then travel to Florence for a few days before coming back to Virginia before the New Year.
Seeing our daughter for the first time in four months was fantastic, and Rome is beautiful, historic, and delicious. One of my favorite parts of the trip turned out to be this: I did not put out any holiday decorations, I did not wrap a gift, I did not unwrap a gift for the whole holiday season or do any holiday things, which was heavenly.
Instead, on that Christmas day, we walked to the top of a hill overlooking Rome, ate some pastries, drank cappuccinos, and took some wonderful family photos. We then walked into downtown Rome and had the Trevi fountain almost to ourselves for a while. We strolled and talked and laughed and ate dinner at a hotel restaurant that was only OK food. The dinner was relaxed and none of us had to do any dishes!
Shaking off the responsibilities and the expectations of family gatherings and holidays was wonderful. Being in Rome when it felt like we had the whole city to ourselves was magical. I cannot recommend getting away from your own and your family’s expectations for the holidays enough!