dear sharideth: How do we share the holidays?

this is grounds for putting yourself up for adoption.

this is grounds for putting yourself up for adoption.

this question didn’t come by email. or by way of the comments. or by carrier pigeon (my preferred method of communication). this one came from one of my bffomgs while sitting at a bar.



her question is about what to do when you get in a serious relationship and/or married and find yourself with family holiday conflicts. how do you resolve the being in two places at once thing when you are on the verge of or already joined another family?

Bob the Tomato just sang, “Do I have a blog for you.” in my head.

the first thing you need to do is not make this an issue until you are far enough along in your relationship to be contemplating giving each other a forever home. if you just started dating and/or you haven’t even introduced each other to your families, go your separate ways for the holiday. then you can get together later, talk about the antics of your gene pool and probably make out.

but if you have now become a package deal, it can get a little tricky. if no one gets what they want, that probably means you’re doing it right.

here are my 4 answers to sharing the holidays:

1. timing is everything – the easiest way to make everyone happy is to show up to both family events. obvi. if the main part of the day (i.e. Thanksgiving meal, Christmas gift exchange, egg hunt, etc.) happen at different times, split your day accordingly. if the times are too close together for this, ask one or both families (aka your mom) if the time can be moved forward or back to make things a little easier. assuming your family isn’t bat shit, this probably won’t be a problem since they would rather have you there as long as possible. unless you’re bat shit.

2. different days – for families that are Gumby flexible and relaxed enough to not be hung up on what the calendar tells them to do (calendars can be so bossy), you can simply pick a different day entirely to have your family holiday event. for years my side of the family has been having Christmas on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving on whatever day my cop brother has off that’s closest. works beautifully. since there are four siblings in my family, this has made it easy for us to hang with our fam, then have a relaxed day with our spouses’ side the day of. once grandkids are a factor, this is especially awesome because both sets of grandparents get a full day with the rugrats.

3. the drop by – if neither family is flexible on time for whatever reason, you’re going to have to choose where you’re spending the bulk of your day. you’ll have to drop by the other side whenever you can. can’t decide which is which? here’s a quick guide:

  • which side do you like better? pick that one.
  • which one is demanding and trying to guilt you into choosing them? don’t pick that one.
  • everyone is cool it’s just rough timing on everything? go to her family. why? your family probably already likes her fine, but you may still have some points to win with hers.

4. just say no – if your family’s holiday event looks like an episode of Real Housewives, you are free to skip it entirely. that’s right. you heard me. you are under zero obligation to spend your joyous yuletide cringing in horror at the behavior of others even if you do share their DNA. the more pressure they put on you to show, the bigger your “sorry, can’t make it” gets. this will do three things for you:

  • your holidays will be full of happiness and peace
  • you will get to pick a more convenient time to hang with hand-picked family members who aren’t douchebags
  • your respect for yourself will increase over night.

boom! merry effing Christmas!

there are all sorts of compromises to make when two become one. it’s rare that any of those ever turn out to be ideal, but that’s okay. what may start out as inconvenient, could work it’s way into something completely different and dare i say? traditional.

divide and conquer, my lovelies. divide and conquer.

any other advice on sharing the holidays? stories about how it’s worked or not worked?


6 comments on “dear sharideth: How do we share the holidays?

  1. Jennwith2ns says:

    You missed out what happens if you live near one of your families and not near the other one. Which is not currently my issue, but it could have been, and I would think that blog-liker Bas (aka visitingmissouri) up there might encounter this problem.

    Currently my husband’s and my Christmas events, at any rate, work out pretty nicely, because I grew up mainly celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, and he on Christmas Day, so we just go to the relevant “mainly” family. It’s going to get a little tricky next year, I suspect, if my bro and his family get into the mix, since they live halfway across the continent. (They’re with my sis-in-law’s family this year.)

  2. good catch. craig and i live 2/3 of a country away from all our family, so that aspect dropped off my radar. i say travel as often as possible, but think of the split as kind of like being a child of divorce. her side gets the visit on Thanksgiving. his side for Christmas or whatever arrangement works out best for the couple in question. my philosophy is if i’m paying to travel, i get to choose when that’s going to be. within reason of course.

  3. Beka Marie says:

    yep, that’s a tough dealy-o to work with…my fiance lives 6 hours away {met him because he’s my best friend’s brother}…and we ‘got together’ right before thanksgiving and christmas last year.
    we’re getting married in the spring, and let me tell you it’s hard to figure that out with uber-special work schedules thrown in the mix too. kind of glad we’re getting practice for negotiating it all right now, but it’ll be better {and maybe obviously more dramatic} once we’re married and get to go places together and all that jazz.

    both years {last and this} he’s come up for the end of thanksgiving, and right after christmas, staying over during new year’s.

    this year, work scheduling on his end it a toughy like no other, and i’ll maybe have to take a trip down to spend new years with his family {they’re awesome; i’m lucky!!} this time.

    “my philosophy is if i’m paying to travel, i get to choose when that’s going to be. within reason of course.” –that’s going to become our motto soon enough. 😛

  4. turnerbethany says:

    My husband and I got extremely lucky in this department. Our families celebrate the holidays together. There is no real extended family close to our hometown, so our parents are like extended family to each other. The only thing we have to decide is where we are going to sleep.

  5. Scotty says:

    “…talk about the antics of your gene pool and probably make out.”

    My holiday plans are officially set.

  6. Soul Walker says:

    In the past I’ve had really good luck with blowing everyone off and going climbing in the mountains… of course, I’m still single… this is probably a coincidence… or maybe it isn’t.

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