The year my twins were born, my mother-in-law gave me the greatest gift. “I want you to have Christmas in your home this year. If you’d like us to be there, we’ll come. But kids should spend it waking up in their own beds and getting to play with their toys.”

I was speechless—and to be honest, relieved. For the past several years, my husband and I spent the holidays at either her home or my mother’s house, and the prospect of packing up two infants and all our gifts and driving an hour to their home seemed daunting. Not to mention the fact that I was looking forward to starting our own traditions now that we had kids.

“Are you sure,” I asked hesitantly. We had a great relationship, and I wanted to keep it that way.

“I’m positive,” she responded. For years she had rushed through Christmas morning only to pack up her family and head to her in-laws for Christmas dinner—a two-and-a-half hour drive. She thought it was important to spend the holiday with the grandparents, but also longed for time to enjoy the peace of the day.

Allowing me to have Christmas in our home without any guilt was such a gift, and I’m so appreciative of her kindness. Our Christmas mornings are laid-back and relaxed, and we get to spend quality time with intention and love, exactly how I’ve always wanted it.

When my in-laws are not spending the holiday with my nieces and nephews, we gladly open our home so we can spend it together. My father-in-law reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and my mother-in-law makes her special chocolate sauce, We sit in our pajamas listening to carols, playing games, and watching movies for a good portion of the day.

It is perfect for us.

And now that my kids are growing up and Santa is just a tale they were once told, they still love the traditions we have created for our little family—simply because we were afforded the ability to do them in our way, on our schedule, in our little home.

One day, I know I won’t have my kids all under my roof. They will have children of their own, and my heart will break not to have all my family together.

But my kids can thank the kindness and generosity of their grandmother when I tell them to enjoy this special day with their own families. I want them to be able to create the memories that I always carry around in my heart.

Because there is no greater gift than that.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is the mom to three tween daughters, a communications consultant and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays http://playdatesonfridays.com/