Late fall and winter are a time for family. There’s Thanksgiving to organize and enjoy, the table crowded with both food and loved ones, and then follow preparations for Christmas and beyond. Nonetheless, spending the entire holidays at home isn’t always appealing. Sometimes, your family needs something new; something foreign. Not everyone wants winter sun, either, especially children. For youngsters, winter has to be traditionally “winter”: cold, preferably involving snow and some scrumptious hot chocolate, and definitely Christmas-focused. To this end, Europe is an obvious option for a seasonal family getaway, with its plethora of festive markets. However, the larger your family, the more difficult the practicalities of such a goal, but if you pick your destination wisely, you’ll be sure to make it a holiday to remember (pretty much stress-free).
If your family consists more of the under-18s than of adults, Italy is the place to go. It’s well known Italians love children, but it’s also a deceptively large country with a wide choice of cities and attractions for all tastes and ages. Rome is an obvious choice for touristic things to see and do (and quieter than in the summer; so too Venice), then there’s the beautiful region of Tuscany and its wonderful Florence walking tours and picture postcard countryside – but what you have to bear in mind when deciding your specific destination is what will appeal to your particular children. Otherwise, you’ll simply end up being in a heartbreakingly lovely place, that special melody that is the Italian language serenading your ears – but your enjoyment drowned by the kids moaning about their boredom.
When in Rome…
Of course, do note that spending Christmas in Italy is going to be a magical time, although a completely different experience. Tell your children that they may, for example, not have the traditional Christmas meal or as many presents. You may want to prepare for tears and tantrums, however, once everyone is abroad, they’ll soon forget what Christmas was like back at home. Make sure to explain to them that there will be cultural differences; for example, Italians remain very much focused on the religion, the Catholicism of the holiday. In addition, decorations are more subdued, but they’re still there; just look a little more closely. Your family will always remember ‘that Italian Christmas’ they had; memories fondly recounting how much fun they had.
A Cultural Gift
Spending the holidays in a foreign country is an educational experience, as much as it is an enjoyable one, and that in itself is a present that can’t be wrapped, but can very much be appreciated and remembered for years to come (far more so than the latest toy or video game). Indeed, less materialism in life in general – not just at Christmas – is a mindset most beneficial. People need to collect experiences, not things. It is the moments shared with those you love which count, and that is a lesson every parent should teach their child, both at home and abroad.