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Sleepless for the Holidays

Flickr user maine travel maine inns, CC Licensed.

Ah, Christmas. Time for the annual traditions of devouring my mother-in-law’s roasted peppers, sipping (or at least trying to sip) Strega from a shotglass and (watching, er, hiding near the bathroom, while everyone else is) singing and dancing to “The Sound of Music.”

Of course the holiday also is time for another tradition: Getting one of the worst nights of sleep all year.

I sleep poorly because we crash with family—an aspect of our holiday family travel that has become routine. In our world, the scenario usually involves all four of us in a 160-square-foot room at my in-laws’ place. Baby R gets the pack-n-play, Powerwoman and L share the fold-out, and I opt to fend for myself on the floor.

Over Thanksgiving, I fashioned a cot out of butt cushions from the aforementioned foldout. The visit before that, I just slept on the floor (in my jeans).

Next week, I’m bringing a sleeping bag. And maybe a tent.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not an ingrate. I *love* the idea of traveling to be together with family for holidays. I’m just saying that once you start cramming grownups and kids into the same room, the whole sleepover-at-our-place thing gets uncomfortable. Quickly.

We’re not the only family that endures such drama.

One friend recently regaled me with the horror story of a Christmas on which his in-laws forced him and his wife of three years to sleep in separate rooms. Another shared the saga of an aunt who used to put up the family on air mattresses in the living room off the kitchen—a good strategy, until they realized the crazy aunt woke up early every morning to make coffee and read the paper.

Then there was the buddy whose parents made him, his wife, and two kids sleep on their sectional couches—none of which folded out.

In other words, I recognize the issue of holiday sleepytime could be much worse. It also, however, could be much better.

Perhaps the easiest fix to all of this michigas (that’s Yiddish for poop from bulls) would be a night or two in a hotel. In many day-to-day circumstances, I’m sure extended family members wouldn’t mind us sparing them the burden of houseguests and crashing elsewhere. But on the holidays, loved ones insist that we travelers stay with them. (Respectfully) Declining leads to arguments and guilt. And those guilt trips are not fun. For anyone.

So we soldier on. To our cushion-cots. And our sleeping bags. Our yoga mats. Indeed, fellow family folks, we endure a lot when we travel to stay with relatives for these holidays. In the name of togetherness, gallivant safely. And remember to pack your Ambien.