Spending Christmas in Paris sounds pretty swanky—okay, maybe it is—but for my family, it’s more than just a festive destination.
My dad’s first overseas assignment was in Paris in 1994. Before the ubiquity of FaceTime and Netflix, it was anything but a cake-walk. My stroller-touting mom realized Parisians weren’t very toddler-friendly and my brother missed his friends and Taco Bell.
Nevertheless, they look back fondly on their time there. (I mean, our neighborhood had a fresh bread truck—what more could you want in life?)
I’ve been back to the city twice since then: once with my parents for Christmas in 2008 and another time for the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2013. My brother hasn’t been back to Paris in 22 years, so it’s especially meaningful for him (I’m sure there are a few more Starbucks and KFCs than he remembers).
Paris has always held a certain magic for me, a sort of familiar comfort, although memories of my time there exist only on home video tapes. Growing up, my room was filled with Eiffel Tower-shaped memorabilia, and I have an emotional response each time I see the landmark in person. Seldom do I like visiting a city more than once, but Paris is a place I will never say no to.
Every family has a different holiday tradition and traveling is ours. But before you envy my Instagram-filtered life, know that it wasn’t always this way. My family has largely been spread out across the U.S., and with my dad’s overseas assignments in Brazil and Singapore, Christmas became the most viable time for a family trip. It wasn’t until college when both of my Texas-based grandparents—aka the glue holding the family together—died that staying put as a little foursome made even less sense.
I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to spend Christmas hiking a mountain in Patagonia, drinking glühwein in Munich, and sunbathing at Bondi Beach. But year after year it’s clear that what matters isn’t where you spend the holidays, but who you spend them with *cue emotional holiday music.*
The best family memories I have from these trips could have happened anywhere. So wherever you are this Christmas, whether you’re with friends or family, take it all in, cherish it, love one another.
Merry Christmas ❤