Sharing Holidays
December 10, 2003 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm recently engaged and my fiancée and I are stuck between families. Ideally we could see both sets of family for Christmas but geography rules it out.

How do you handle sharing the holidays with a minimum of stress or hurt feelings? Rotating, where you go to one house on one year and the other house the next year? Split each holiday into halves and see both each year? Any ideas?
posted by jmevius to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For the first several years, my partner and I split Christmas between both families, but starting this year we're alternating between the two -- although we're visiting her family in early Jan. to make up for missing it.

The decision was based on the fact that, by splitting Christmas between two families separated by several states, we were short-changing both. By alternating, we're giving our full attention to one each year -- and greatly reducing our travel costs.
posted by me3dia at 2:30 PM on December 10, 2003

Rotate holidays and years.. Tday at one, Xmas at the other, then next year do the opposite.
But the real solution: hurry up an have a kid, then make them come to you.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 2:31 PM on December 10, 2003

My family: Dallas, Texas
My wife's family: southwest Virginia
We live in Dallas, Texas

This is how my wife and I deal with holidays:
We alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One year -
Thanksgiving at her family's.
Christmas Eve at my Father and Step-Mother's
Christmas Day at my Mother's
Day after Christmas fly to her family's for a couple of days.

Next year -
Thanksgiving at our place.
Fly to her familys a couple of days before Christmas, spend Eve and Day with her, then fly back to Dallas. Go spend a day with each of my parents.

That has worked very well for us. It makes it extra hard on us, because I have two parents to deal with, as well.

Other lesser holidays, we do what we want here at our home.

But, there is our method.
posted by Seth at 2:31 PM on December 10, 2003

Our first xmas living together was our first one engaged.

We decided we would spend our first xmas in our house on our rules. We saw her family just before xmas and mine not long after. Everyone was happy because we hadn't chosen one over the other.
posted by twine42 at 2:44 PM on December 10, 2003

Thankfully, my family and his family only live 15 miles apart. But because travelling the 600 miles twice a year to see them just doesn't fit into our budgeting, we don't. Sometimes when we feel like it we will go for a visit, but we don't feel obligated to see either family for the holidays.

I'm sure they don't like it, and we do have to put up with the dreaded, "why don't you visit more often?" questions. But I can live with that.
posted by rhapsodie at 2:52 PM on December 10, 2003

To muddy the waters you can also factor in mother's and father's day. We do because one set lives in a place that is difficult reach in winter.

Wait until one of you becomes a mother, then watch the hurt feelings fly as the day is divided multiple ways. At least with Christmas and Thanksgiving the jilted party has others to commiserate with.
posted by Feisty at 3:02 PM on December 10, 2003

Thanksgiving with one family, Christmas with the other. That's why God made two holidays where we eat the same thing.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:04 PM on December 10, 2003

Flip a coin. That's what I did this year.
posted by bshort at 3:08 PM on December 10, 2003


I'm serious
posted by matteo at 3:12 PM on December 10, 2003

I've never tried it, but my friend's family and extended. family always get together for a week or so right before thanksgiving. They celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time, and then when it's over everyone goes back and does there own thing on the actual holidays. It seems to work for them, although I can imagine it would be a nightmare to plan.
posted by Hildago at 4:06 PM on December 10, 2003

Talk to both families, and help them to understand that you're stuck in the same situation as have been millions of couples before you, and that you're going to have to make the same awkward decisions.

I'd propose Thanksgiving for one fam, Christmas for the other, and then rotate each year.
posted by oissubke at 5:18 PM on December 10, 2003

We avoid the whole thing. We've always gotten out of going to either family's thing because we had our own traditions, and the family respects that. Now that we have a baby though, I have a feeling the pressure will start to increase for us to visit. *bleh*
posted by dejah420 at 5:47 PM on December 10, 2003

My boyfriend has one of those clingy demanding families.
The first year we lived together, his mother bought an airline ticket for his entire semester break (he's a grad student), including Christmas and New Year's. Without clearing the dates with him--they assume that because we are not married that what they want him to gets the highest priority.

The next year, they "compromised" and he spent Christmas with me and New Year's with them. The next year, we switched. Last year, I'd moved across the country, so he went there for both days. This year, we were planning on him coming here for Christmas and New Year's, but they talked him into a multicity airline ticket, so he's going there for Christmas and here for New Year's. And I get to spend Christmas by myself.

Anyways, in an ideal situation, we'd alternate holidays where he'd spend one with them and one with me. It just hasn't worked out that way yet.

What I'm trying to say is that until you get an annual routine established, someone's feelings are probably going to be hurt. But everyone's an adult (I hope) and I'd think they would be able to realize that it's a difficult decision and not give you undue grief about it.
posted by eilatan at 6:14 PM on December 10, 2003

Me, I usually go with minimum stress and maximum hurt feelings. But that's just me.

Seriously, I find that many folks are afraid to strike out on their own, yet it is incredibly liberating and leaves you with all kinds of flexiblity and fun.

My sister can't afford the time or money to travel to the family each year: case closed. My brother, on the other hand, married Thanksgiving-dinner-with-his-mother-in-law until her death! (Or his if one year he decides to plunge a carving knife into his own gut.)

My wife and I have no set routine: we have two continents to consider for the holidays — we simply go with the flow. (Being a continent away makes a fine excuse to not visit my family. Kidding! Really! Sort of!)
posted by Dick Paris at 6:49 PM on December 10, 2003

In hindsight, one of the few good things my ex- and I ever did was decide to spend our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in our own home, together, without our families. Made it much easier to get everybody into the cycle of Thanksgiving with one family, Christmas with the other, in alternating years.
posted by JollyWanker at 8:12 PM on December 10, 2003

We used to pack all the kids into the car and make Christmas day a rush of one grandparents' house after another, until we decided that, since grandparents have no kids and lots of time, they could come here.

So now, everyone comes to our house Christmas Eve and we exchange gifts here. Everyone goes home well-fed and well-rested and we all get to spend Christmas Day at home.

Note that this only works because my (divorced) parents and their spouses all get along, and we all live within a 25-mile radius. :)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:08 PM on December 10, 2003

My partner and I both come from large families spread out all over the world (literally). This is something we struggled with for years and never found a satisfactory solution to. We're also poor so it was a real hardship pack up and fly to Jakarta for a week every year -- the expense of travel certainly played a role in our decision *not* to travel.

Now that we have children and own a home, several years back we made a conscious decision not to deal with it anymore and start making our own traditions. Any and all are welcome to spend the holidays or any part thereof with us, but they have to come to us.

The only downside is that they took us up on it and now I can't get rid of them.
posted by cedar at 9:39 PM on December 10, 2003

I come from a large family - there are five of us "children", three of whom have their own families. Of course once you're married you have three Christmasses to celebrate - your own, and both sets of in-laws. We put our many heads together and pick out a date for our family Christmas, all festivities and work schedules considered. This year it's December 27th. There's usually a few people who can't make it, but when you're trying to get 15-20 people together that's expected.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 AM on December 11, 2003

We've found Judaism makes things a lot easier.
posted by staggernation at 8:50 AM on December 11, 2003

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