My parents love to have all their kids at their house for holidays, but they're supportive and flexible and have never laid a guilt trip on any of us when we've made other plans.
Many of my friends don't have it so good. They would never think of not meeting their family's holiday expectations. They often find themselves building their plans around those expectations rather than around what's best for their immediate family.
When you're grieving the loss of someone who isn't at the table, it can be especially hard to move through traditional holiday family events. Perhaps this is the year to break with tradition, do something different, make a new memory.
Every family has holiday assumptions; some see them as rigid rules that can't be broken. But part of taking care of your family right now may mean not making the expected trip, not participating in the usual rituals, not showing up at the big dinner. That's OK.
Besides crossing things off your list that you don't want to do this year, perhaps there are some new things you want to try – particularly things that will honor the memory of the one you've lost.
For example, do you want to give a gift to someone who played an important role in your loved one's life? Do you want to buy a tree you can plant in the yard as an ongoing reminder of hope and healing in the years to come? Do you want to make a donation to a charity or ministry in your loved one's honor?