Thanks Throughout the Year

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader writes:

My husband used to be in the Navy, so as soon as we moved away to his first duty station, I stopped celebrating Thanksgivings with family—too long of a flight for a long weekend, and too expensive on a limited budget.

Then a few years ago, after vacationing overseas, we planned a long layover over Thanksgiving in my hometown on the way back home. It was great, and since we were already traveling, it wasn’t a big deal. But unfortunately, that meant we had to travel to my husband’s family the following year, which sucked—flight cancellations, broken down cars, and tons of family drama.

After that, I nipped it in the bud: back to Thanksgiving in our own homes and visiting family at other times during the year. I feel like there are too many heightened expectations when you visit family at the holidays. I think it’s better to have meaningful visits other times a year, when everyone isn't focused on everything being perfect. My best memories of visiting family are during the times I came home to visit my grandmother on her birthday, or during the family get-togethers during early summer when the kids can take advantage of my sister’s pool. It’s much more fun than everyone being cooped up and cranky during the worst weather of the year.