Bella DePaulo (
www.belladepaulo.com) is the author of Singled;Out:
Happily;Ever;After (st. Martin’s Griffin, 2007).
NOVEMBER DEBATE RESULTS:
Should we have a Consumer
Financial Protection Agency?
i shoUld hAVe Considered myself warned decades ago. i was
driving home from a Thanksgiving trip, with the traffic so backed up for
so many hours that there was nothing to do but pull into the parking lot
of a bad diner and wait.
in theory, flying is zippier. But add the ticket costs, ever-escalating
fees, flight delays, disrobing rituals at screening, dreary food in the ter-
minals, no food and cramped seats on the flights, and bags that arrive just in time for your trip
home, and you are setting yourself up to be the holiday grump.
The first year that i owned my own home, i asked my parents and siblings to come to
me. i invited friends to join us for meals. A dozen people squeezed around the table one night,
13 the next. i loved it.
other years when i’ve stayed home, i’ve been invited to big holiday dinners where i knew
just one or two people when i walked in the door. By dessert, though, i had gotten a glimpse
into the lives of a house full of people i never would have run into any other way.
i started asking others about their offbeat, no-travel holiday experiences. i heard stories of
people who, out of a feeling of obligation, headed to a community dinner that sounded grim
but turned out to be grand. others told of turning off all of their gadgets and heading for the
hills. The most vivacious person i know enthused about spending Christmas day sitting in an
overstuffed chair next to a fire, with a good book and a glass of wine.
Many people have started their own holiday traditions, with a focus on friends. As families
shrink in size and grown children scatter to far-flung places, increasingly it is friends who are
there for one another. so now, often groups of friends gather in homes for the holidays and
exchange gifts of love. They join tree-lighting ceremonies or First night festivities in a public
square, and feel the warmth of togetherness on a cold winter night.
This year, try staying home for the holidays, especially if you have never done it before, even
if the thought makes you a bit uneasy—no, especially if it does. you never know what you might
discover about people you only thought you knew, or what you might learn about yourself. Try
it because Americans are all about reinvention. even our traditions don’t stand still. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by November 11, 2009.
OCTOBER DEBATE RESULTS:
Should we rely more
on wind energy?
YES: 35% NO: 65%
Percentage reflects votes received by
October 31, 2009. Results may reflect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
from an expert in the field:
Eileen Ogintz is a nationally known family travel expert and creator
of the syndicated column “Taking the Kids” (
no T Ano Ther holidAy weekend on a lumpy sofa bed. no more
cooking and cleaning for the relatives. Forget playing tour guide and
mediator for squabbling cousins and in-laws. sure it’s nice at times to
play host over the holidays. But there’s nothing wrong with skipping the
holiday hoopla this year and heading off for a vacation.
Take even a short vacation rather than hosting everyone at your
home. invite the relatives along. if this is your first holiday with the kids after a divorce, a death
in the family or remarriage, why not use the holidays to create a new tradition and get away?
Millions now plan destination weddings. Why not a destination holiday? it’s not that difficult to arrange. get everyone on board with the idea—including who is paying for what—
and choose a place that is easy for everyone to reach. opt for a long weekend in a nearby city,
for example, or a cruise from a port close to home. Wherever you decide to go, call and see if
you can negotiate a better deal or a few extras for your group, such as free breakfasts, room
upgrades or discounts on activities. Whenever possible, avoid peak holiday travel days, such
as Christmas eve. it will be less stressful and you likely will be able to score a better deal.
Bring along games, toys and holiday dVds to entertain the kids on the way and when you
arrive. When was the last time your gang had time to play scrabble or Monopoly together?
Bring along a well-stocked first-aid kit too. And wherever you are going, be aware that things
may not go as planned. someone may get sick or hurt; the weather may derail your travel. As
long as you keep your cool—and your sense of humor—you will be fine.
remember, no one has to be in lockstep all the time. encourage all to do what they like—
whether ripping it up on a ski hill, reading by a fire, exploring a museum or shopping till they
drop—and then gather for dinner and compare notes. (let the kids help plan the itinerary
too.) The best part: With everyone on neutral turf and busy having fun, family squabbles
should be kept to a minimum.
As well, consider giving the kids and grandkids some money toward the trip as their holiday gift. The memories, i promise, will last long after everyone has grown tired of all the toys
and sweaters you bought. C
DECEMBER 2009 The Costco Connection 17
Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented and
are presented to foster discussion. Costco
and The;Costco;Connection take no position
on any Debate topic.