I Decided Not To Go Home For The Holidays, And I've Never Been Happier
If you're an only child or the oldest sibling in your family, there's an unspoken expectation that you must be there for the important holidays.
No matter what your situation is elsewhere, your parents and/or younger siblings live in the hope you'll arrive home in time for Thanksgiving, winter birthdays and Christmas.
Well, for those of you who enjoy the festivities this time of year with family and hate the thought of being anywhere else, fair enough. Look no further than this period.
However, for those of you who have a slightly devilish side, who are rebellious or just simply adventurous, I have a story for you.
A story of a guy who let go of tradition before being manipulated into choosing his annual Christmas sweater.
I'm actually from Britain, cold, blustery England, where the darkness greets you when you leave for work in the morning and is still there when you arrive back home.
It's where the sun decides it's done for the year and lets street lamps take over its proceedings.
If you enjoy the color grey, by all means, go to England for the holidays. Somehow, I managed to stick with it for 23 years.
My family would go through the same monotonous process every year to coincide with the outdoor weather.
You write a list of what you want to be given as a gift, stock up three or four times on wine and cheeses (I say three or four times because these stashes were constantly being raided in the build-up to the end of December) and then watch crappy TV in crappy Christmas sweaters.
I broke this trend as soon as I realized I could.
My family had me there, year in and year out, for 23 winters. Surely I had earned the right to not be there for one of them, right?
So, I flew to Thailand for Christmas.
Sipping whiskey and Coke on the beach and wearing a floppy Santa hat with sunglasses is an incredible feeling. And it's exceptionally different from the norm.
Trust me, I did it.
It gave me a whole new perspective of the holidays, and truthfully, I had the best Christmas ever. Not to mention, the tan I came home with.
Look at it this way: If you're prepared to spend your whole year mostly going to work for a living, paying bills and sticking to society's strict rules on what you can and can't wear and what you can do and say, then why not see the year out with a bang?
Why not take yourself out of that bubble?
Why not treat yourself to a beautiful stretch of sun-glazed beach with some reggae beats and not a care in the world?
I mean, your family got their gifts, right? You remembered to wrap them early and delegate your youngest brother to pop them under the tree while you were gone?
If you really need to make the family feel better about your temporary festive diversion, remind them they'll still have a table full of gorgeous home-cooked food, complete with a bird and cranberry sauce.
All you can muster for Thanksgiving and Christmas is a vodka cranberry. So they win, right?
In all seriousness, being in America (and Britain) during the winter months is a good thing because ultimately, it's when families spend the most time together and share the love.
However, we do all need our own time to collect ourselves after a tough and stressful year.
America and Britain collectively need to get their passports out, clasp their hands together and go to the beach, especially after the year we've both had.
Doing something different for a change is refreshing for the body, mind and soul. You won't regret it.