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Firsts: Splitting the Holidays

December 3, 2010

The holiday season is upon us, and when you are newlyweds, that means one thing:  figuring out the schedule.  Our families man so much to us, and we want to see them as much as possible, but in order to do that, we have to do the dreaded deed of splitting up our time between families on each and every major family holiday.

This is the part of marriage that officially sucks the most.

Don’t get me wrong; we love spending time with both sides.  If we didn’t, this wouldn’t be such a gigantasaurus rex problem.  It’s just that we have grown up in two different households that celebrate Christmas, Christmas Eve, and Thanksgiving two very different ways.  We are both partial to how we grew up; after all, it is what has established our traditions and memories.  We also need to throw in the fact that B’s birthday is the day after Christmas.  His family clearly wants to spend time with him on that day (they wouldn’t be very good parents if they didn’t), but what if we spent the majority of Christmas Day with them?  Where would my side of the family get their majority holiday time?  Holiday expectations also happen.  I grew up in an atmosphere where people were always talking, kitchens were filled with too many chefs, and there was always someone asking you, “How’s it going?”  B’s family is much, much smaller.  On B’s mom’s side, he and his brother are the only children.  He has no cousins, just two aunts, two uncles, and a grandmother.  Holidays are very quiet and typically involve people sitting around the TV while waiting for the meal to cook.  For him, this is completely normal, and my “normal” may seem completely chaotic and off-the-wall.  For me, I need people and noise and interaction to see it as a holiday.  Add a dash of stubbornness and love of traditional set-ups from our mothers, and in short, scheduling evenly, fairly, and proactively is a challenge.

Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple!

We began a Christmas schedule the year before we got engaged.  We created a plan where we would share Christmas dinner with each family every other year.  It sounds great in theory, but life can throw monkey wrenches into the works.  My family is primarily made up of female cousins, many of whom are married and are expecting/have recently had babies.  They also live pretty far away.  I want to see them when they come up and be a part of the whole “baby’s first Christmas” experience.  I do not, however, want to become a “mine mine mine” wife where all we do is celebrate with my family.  I love B’s side of our family dearly.  They are welcoming and hilarious.  Just spending time with his mom’s side over Thanksgiving was enough to make my sides ache from laughter yesterday.  We love all of our family members and we want to see them all on Christmas.

So who wins?  Well, our parents live about twenty minutes apart, which can make things easier and more complicated at the same time, but we often go to others’ houses to celebrate, like my family goes to my grandmother’s house and my aunt’s house.  B’s family goes to either his grandmother’s house or his aunt’s house (huh… I never realized that pattern before…).  Unfortunately, these houses can be anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half apart.  No bueno.  Seriously, what do we do?

Well, we Tim Gunn that crap.  We know we love our families, each other’s families, and each other.  It’s the holidays; it’s about being together.  Does it have to be on the exact day of Christmas?  No, but it certainly helps.  We have simply decided that no matter how even we try to make it, someone somewhere may feel a little left out, and until we get our own home where everyone can come celebrate with us (and probably our offspring at that point), we’ll roll with it.  We kind of owe it to them to try our absolute best; these people did, after all, raise us, feed us, love us, and paid for our wedding.  I just hate disappointing people.  So for now, we are sticking to the “here and then there” schedule.

The important factor remains throughout all of this that we are surrounded by people who love us.

How do you decide holidays?  Any good tips?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jen D. permalink
    January 12, 2011 5:36 am

    Just reading this now, so a little late to help, but I know the feeling! I’m obviously not married, but Geoff and I have lived together for 4 years and have been splitting holidays almost as long. It’s made even more complicated because both of our parents are divorced. We both love each other’s families and want to spend time with everyone. Here’s the schedule we’ve been on the last couple of years:

    Christmas Eve: together with Geoff’s mom’s side. We go to his aunt’s for the annual Christmas Eve party. After that we return to Geoff’s mom’s with his brother and nieces. When the kids go to bed we adults do gifts.

    Christmas morning: We wake up at Geoff’s mom’s and do Santa, etc gifts with his little nieces. I leave late morning to do gifts with my mom and brothers and he leaves to see his dad.

    Christmas Afternoon: We are apart:( But just for a few hours while visiting our respective fathers.

    Christmas Night: We meet up again at my Uncle’s house for my mom’s side of the family’s annual Christmas party. Geoff’s brother even joined us there this year!

    It sounds insane and can be a little tiring…but now that we’re used to it it’s actually nice. It’s like have several little Christmases and we get to see everyone we love in one way or another. The trick is to be flexible and love the ones your with!

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