When Jackie Taylor's mother passed away in 2005, she didn't know how she would handle the holidays that year. She spent a few months trying to psych herself up to take over as the family's holiday hostess, but ultimately she decided it just wasn't her bag.
Instead, she and her husband, Mike, decided to plan a trip to take their minds off the loss and be too distracted to feel guilty about not stepping up and inviting the family over for Christmas.
"I didn't care where we went. I just didn't want to go anywhere with too much down time. I didn't want to hang out at a beach and think a lot. Other than that, I was open to anything," says Taylor.
The couple got a good deal on a package to San Francisco, neither of them had been there before, and spent five days discovering the city. They have gone back every year since.
"The holiday I was dreading has since become the highpoint of my year," says Taylor. "I love Milwaukee, but it is really nice to get away during the holidays. I come back refreshed and ready to handle the rest of the winter."
Attorney Jim Gallanis and his wife, Susan, spend every Christmas on the other side of the country, in New York City. They have spent the previous five Christmases in New York and plan to be there again this year, too.
"Part of the reason is certainly to avoid 'holiday hoopla' and to go somewhere that is really 'a different world,'" says Gallanis. "Being in the middle of New York City and walking around town and taking subways and cabs to discover interesting neighborhoods and eat at amazing ethnic restaurants makes us feel 100 percent more alive than staying in Milwaukee."
The couple particularly appreciates that so many more restaurants and businesses are open on Christmas Day in New York City.
"Also, except for last year's blizzard, the weather has been great in our experience. We've spent several Christmas mornings walking across the Brooklyn Bridge," he says.
Katharina Hren, along with her mother and son, left for Ireland on Thanksgiving Day. "I don't have high expectations for my Thanksgiving meal," she says.
Hren says escaping the holidays wasn't the impetus for her trip, instead it was to celebrate her mom's 70th birthday and because her son wouldn't miss too much school, but she didn't flinch at the thought of not being around for the holiday.
"It's not one that's important to me. I think gratitude is something to celebrate every day. I actually end every day with a gratitude list," she says. "I don't have much family here – I'm from Germany – and the few times I celebrated with others I didn't enjoy the drinking that seemed to follow the copious amounts of food."
In order not to offend family, a Whitefish Bay couple asked not to be identified. However, they have no guilt over their decision to duck out and stay in for the holidays this year.
They will be out of town on business until Dec. 23, but they told family members they weren't returning until the 26th.
"We wanted to have a holiday staycation type thing," says the husband. "We're going to just watch movies, order food, make food, whatever. It has been a rough year. I was out of work for seven months. I really just want to spend the holidays quietly, without a lot of gifts, with my wife."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.