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December 27th 2016 by THEFASHIONGUITAR

What I love most about the Holidays is spending time with my family, eating all the food I love, drinking my favorite Champagne, and watch every single Christmas movie, until I fall asleep on the couch. Luckily I found a man who loves to do the same, so every year our planning is pretty straight forward. We do the above mentioned, we both do our part – he does the grocery shopping, I do the gift shopping – and then we start. For the first couple of years in our relationship, when we lived in The Netherlands – where we both grew up – we spend these days with our families on both sides. However, this changed when we moved abroad. For the better – for a while – and the worse…

The first part was good. Truth to be told, no matter how much you love your family, there is a point in your relationship where you can’t bear the thought of spending another three days sitting together with all of them, again – these are the selfish years – and you just wish you could spend it together. Our solution for that, back then, was spending collage time abroad. Thomas started with India, where he did 6 months at JNU. I visited twice. Now my memory doesn’t go back that well, but I believe this was the only year where one of was spend time abroad, but we still spend Christmas in The Netherlands. Hence, selfish behavior not fulfilled. Then it was my turn, I did an internship in Singapore, and we spend Christmas there. The two of us, and it was so good. We did Christmas shopping together, we spend our days next to the pool together, and had a little BBQ, just the two of us. And we loved it! Then Singapore ended and Thomas decided to do another couple of degrees – LOL, this is me teasing him, but fact is, he did a whole bunch – in Beijing and London. First at Beijing University, where I also ended up to do an internship, because at the end of the day, we were at the point where we wanted to move in together. So students/interns in Beijing, during winter when it’s unbearably cold, we celebrated Christmas with a family of friends who just happened to be in Beijing over Christmas. AWESOME! Someone else’s family is in those “selfish years” a perfect replacement for everything you can’t stand of your own – sorry mom, dad, in-laws, hold on, I’m going somewhere with this story. Truly a Christmas to never forget. Steef, Daan & Family, thanks again.

And then came London, where we lived with friends close by, in our favorite area of the city, loving it. Every single bit of it. Christmases with family – in The Netherlands or in London – became debatable again, as The Netherlands was just an hour away. Yet, with both our families living literally at opposite sites of our tiny little country, we still ended up going back and forth between both. And this was exhausting. Imagine when we started our families… And if having your first baby isn’t stressful enough, going back and forth between families, having your baby to adjust to a new temporary bed, another bunch of strange faces who want to hold them – we did not even have the jetlag planing part that time – it was exhausting, again. So at some point we decided we had to spend Christmas our own way. Happy to welcome everyone at our place, but we just didn’t travel to anyone, anywhere. We just wanted peace, spending time with our tiny little family, eating all the food we love, drinking our favorite Champagne, and watching every single Christmas movie, until we fall asleep on the couch – of course, not the babies, they slept safe and sound int their own beds.

It took us a long time to go from “wanting to be selfish” to being “selfish”, because at the end of the day the pressure is up, as Christmas is something you are supposed to celebrate together. Yet, was this really that selfish? Young parents like us, in similar living situations – abroad, moving every couple of years – understand. Though, most probably don’t act on it. Out of guild. But as with so many things in life, with bringing up your kids, and developing yourself, sometimes you have to do what’s good for you, and what feels is the best for your family. The tide will change eventually, as it always does, and nobody has to get hurt. Now I’m not telling you nobody was, because in our life abroad, being selfish has probably hurt some or our closest people, but we had to do it to get through things. Having babies is hard, nursing them and bringing them up to be solid tiny humans is harder, and at the same time looking after yourself is the hardest…

We moved to New York, then to Toronto, and the tide started to turn. The selfish years were about to end. We missed our family and friends a huge deal, while we loved – and still do – living abroad. We know that is what makes us happiest. But so it turns out, this part is even harder than the “guild part” we had in our earlier days as a family. Our time in Toronto so far, even though we know it’s not going to be forever, is the “loneliest” of all the cities we’ve lived in. It has been hard to adjust – and trust me, after having moved 7 times of 5 years, we know adjusting – investing in people is hard when you know it’s not going to be here forever, plus, this was the first city we moved to with zero people we knew. So it was altogether HARD. I got lonely, even though I’m surrounded by my three favorite people in the world, the help of mother and mother-in-law whenever needed, and a bunch of great travels for work. All those little moments in between made lonely, which then made me sad, something I never really experienced this way before… I felt like Betty Draper in her bored housewife years…

People around me told me I should not worry too much. Not long ago I struggled with Thyroid cancer, battled it, beat it, but my body had also not been the same as it was before either. It was a struggle, and still is, even though my doctors in New York are amazing. I just feel crap a lot! And that’s hard to handle when you know your life is pretty amazing on paper. Because how to make that smile, when you are not really smiling on the inside? So that’s what I work on every day, with an amazing husband next to me, who – I don’t know how – handles it so well. And keeps on dealing with my mood swinging all over the place. I mostly save my smiles just for the kids, but that means there’s not many left for him. But we deal with it, and every morning I feel we are getting a step closer to the old me. And that feels good!

But where do I really want to go with this story? Well, it’s simple… this year we felt we really wanted to be around both of our families during Christmas, but for many reasons we couldn’t. With everyone being spread out across the globe, literally from New York to Africa, and back to The Netherlands, none of us celebrated Christmas together, and it felt like shit. Keeping circumstances in mind, and knowing it was the best thing to do this year, we are 100% positive that we want to never not spend Christmas without our growing families, on both sides, next to us. Truth is, the tide has turned, as it always does…

Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Charlotte Groeneveld Thefashionguitar

Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Charlotte Groeneveld Thefashionguitar

Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Charlotte Groeneveld Thefashionguitar

Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Charlotte Groeneveld Thefashionguitar

Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Charlotte Groeneveld Thefashionguitar

I’m wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress and (on SALE!) headband, and Stella’s wearing a H&M dress and headband (sold out online).

Photos by Daniel Kim (@Walking Canucks)

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