It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of time off around the holidays must be in want of extended family crawling all over their house. Or, inversely, to spend the holidays sharing a three-bedroom house with ten other people.
I blame Norman Rockwell for this seemingly asinine tradition. Painted jovial families smiling over table spreads that stretch to the 50-yard line and hearths that welcome members from the smallest branches of the family tree. The image is warm and inviting—and everyone looks happy and full! But let’s not forget these are paintings.
I’d wager, for most families, “Everyone under one roof” is likely to get someone killed. Or, at the very least, generate enough friction to set fire to a sibling rivalry that no one will ever truly understand but will endure for decades.
Welcome to the holiday months. Tread carefully.
If you’ve read anything I’ve jotted down for Outdoorsy over the past few months, you may deem me a cynic and, therein, a Scrooge who should not be writing anything for the holiday season.
The truth is that I enjoy the holiday season. The way the glittery lights break up the dried and dead landscaping. Staying in bed until 10 a.m. under heavy blankets is no longer considered as strange as it might be in the stifling summer months. Not to mention, there’s food—delicious spreads of it. Afternoons spent cooking a week’s worth of food at a time or the endless preparation for feasts with friends that feature stuffing, pies, and increasingly dark liquors make a post-meal movie or football game significantly easier to watch.
When it all boils down, it’s the company around you that can make or break the holiday season. The friends you dine with, the family members invited to the table, the other people in the painting that determine if your holiday will be something out of a Rockwell fiction, or if it will be akin to a Griswold family affair.
Christmas Vacation, the 1989 family holiday film, is an installment of the Griswold family enduring a chilly Chicago holiday season. Everything is as bucolic as a Hughes holiday classic would suggest until the extended family shows up. The comedic focal feature is Uncle Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, who pulls up to the driveway in a 30-foot RV to boondock for the holiday.
Objectively, the RV is ugly, and Eddie’s behavior is cringeworthy. But maybe he was on to something. What if Eddie had spent the holiday staying inside their house? In addition to the invitation of forest vermin, the destruction of family meals, holiday bonuses, and the neighbor’s property, one can only imagine the additional trauma the Griswold’s would have endured had Eddie chosen to take over the basement for the week.
So, this holiday season, maybe keep your Uncle Eddie in the RV. Seriously.
Even the most loving and close families need space from each other. So why not keep your holiday guests in the nice by providing them with their own walls and space to retreat to? Why not treat yourself to that type of space?
Why not make everything easier and incorporate RV living into your holiday plans? Why not keep your family close, but host them at a distance—say, the driveway perhaps?
Treat Yourself To Better Travel
The days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the busiest for airports. In addition to the crowds, endless lines, and the anxiety of dragging through luggage, children, and elderly relatives, everyone in an airport has a low-grade flu at all times. Save yourself the sick days and make the drive.
Protect yourself from this year’s illnesses and load the family up into an RV. Take some extra time to enjoy the scenic route. Stop at a roadside attraction you’ve been meaning to check out. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you how wide and comfortable your vehicle’s captains chairs will seem in comparison to the middle seat of economy class.
Walls Keep Families Together
I almost always get a hotel room when traveling somewhere to visit someone. Typically, the visit is to a new city, and the last thing I want is to spend most of my time looking at the inside of their guest room. A hotel room in the middle of the city prevents that.
Where lodging is sparse, an RV can preserve the delicate family balance by giving you somewhere to go when tensions run high. This is not rude, this is not unprecedented, and your host will love you for it. While they may be excited to see you, they may not be thrilled to have you as a semi-permanent resident in their home during the holidays.
Are you the one hosting?
It may be worth renting a cute airstream trailer or RV for your visiting family. Many options are just as nice as hotel rooms, and at similar price points. Again, this gesture should not be seen as “rude.” Instead, you are merely concerned about the integrity of your home and the stability of the family.
With the additional space, there will be no question about snoring or the family member that chooses to sleep in the nude. Did a visiting family member bring up the time you snuck out of the house to go see a boyfriend while you were still in high school? Now that problem is banished to the end of the driveway until they can move on.
Things With Wheels Can Roll Away
The holidays end. So should your family visit. Chances are you have a relative that has no concept of boundaries or any idea of when they should leave. With an RV, you simply have to tell them it’s time to return the rental RV. It’s time to pull that parking brake, tear down the holiday decorations, and get on with the New Year.
There is a rather tranquil video of American woodworker Nick Offerman drinking scotch while sitting in front of the fire. He’s by himself. Just you, him, the camera, and a roaring fire. Frankly, when it comes to the holidays, do you need anything else?
If the family is pulling you one direction, maybe it’s time to go the other way. Imagine not having to deal with your brother’s screaming, bratty children or your mom’s fetid cooking? What if you could pack up the immediate family and find a quiet corner of the world that you can call your own. A long road trip to a weathertight cabin with no cell service and enough groceries to eat yourselves silly for a few days.
These are, after all, holidays. Why not enjoy them the way you want to enjoy them? Give yourself the gift of space.
If you feel guilty or need permission, I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be fine. I permit you. I relieve you of your guilt. The end.