Four years ago I had a 4-, 3-, and 2-year-old when Christmas rolled around. We never travel during the holidays and have no family nearby, but some friends invited us over in the morning to celebrate at their house.
While there, I felt as though I was herding cattle. Trying to keep three little ones from touching things they shouldn't touch, from eating what they shouldn't eat, from yelling when they shouldn't yell. When we finally arrived home and the kids were taking naps, Steve and I exchanged a "what have we done?" look as we sat on the couch. I'm pretty sure I remember a few tears rolling down my cheeks as well.
That morning should have taught us a lesson. But it didn't. We were determined to have our idea of Christmas fulfilled, so that evening we took our clan to another friend's house for dinner. Insert huge disaster complete with children afraid of dogs, and lots (I mean, LOTS) of screaming.
I wish someone would have just told me--it's okay. It's okay to stay home if you need to, to take it easy, to not have a traditional celebration like you always have. The kids weren't pushing for all those activities, it was our reluctance to let go of what we'd always known, our reluctance to let go of our expectations.
We have our whole lives to celebrate decades of holidays with our children. Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, it's okay. Be where you are, in whatever season that is, and allow yourself to enjoy it.