Holiday are a time for family gatherings, whether blood-related or otherwise. Now, unless you’re an orphan, chances are you’ve got some family that wants to see you on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Yule, or whatever holiday you celebrate.
When you’re single this is no biggie. Heck, when you’re dating it’s not always that big a deal, either–you might take the opportunity to meet your possibly-future in-laws, but it’s also not crippling if you each visit your respective families for the holidays.
When you get married? It’s another story.
My sister-in-law’s family is made up of divorced parents who’ve both remarried, and everyone lives in the same general area. This means that for every holiday they’ve got between 3 and 5 stops to make, and that’s before they get around to seeing us. This is not a way to live, folks, but it’s the precedent they set while they were dating and it’s tough to break the habit.
This isn’t normal. This isn’t healthy. It’s the plot of a romantic “comedy” or three.
For Todd and I it’s actually pretty simple: my immediate family (except my brother, who comes up from Orlando for most big events) lives in the same town as us and his family is several states away. Since it’s an expensive plane fare or a 2 day drive (at least!) to see them, we stay here for holidays. But if we had the opportunity to go up to Nebraska or out to Arizona one year, no one on my side would begrudge us the trip. (At least I don’t think so!)
That’s because it’s fair.
Whether you put the different family groups in a hat and draw one out for each holiday that year or you bargain based on parental lobbying for this day or that, make a decision early on as to where you’re going for each one, and keep it to one or two visits per holiday-day to keep yourself sane. And the next year switch it up, if need be, to give everyone equal time.
If or when you have kids, grandparents are going to put in bids even more strongly, so having a strategy as a couple will make it that much easier to put your foot down when everyone wants to see everyone else all within 24 hours.
The other option, though not for the faint of heart, is to open your home as the epicenter of holiday cheer and host whomever wants to come. It helps to have a lot of extra space if your family is particularly large, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. (And a hotel.)
It’s also never too early to start your own traditions for your new family, with or without extended participation. If there’s a holiday that’s really important to you to do it your way, set it aside for the two of you and have your own celebration. In this day and age of cell phone, Face Time, and Skype, you don’t have to travel to “see” everyone.
Do you have a plan for divvying up the holidays?