The holidays are a magical end to the year when time slows down and most people get to enjoy a few days off work with family and friends. Unless, of course, you’re shuffling around from place to place, with presents piled high in your car, arguing about how little time you’ll have with your family because you’ve spent the afternoon with your spouse’s family.
Even though the holidays are beautiful, they can tend to be a bit stressful, especially if this is your first year to divide them between two families. After the wedding is over, not only do you gain a spouse, but you also gain his or her whole family. Though you may be overjoyed to have a brand new family to celebrate with, you may also be a bit sad at the thought of spending less time with your own.
Sometimes who “gets you” for a holiday can be contentious, but hopefully with a little planning, a little compromising, and a little bit of standing up for yourself, you should get through the season just fine. Here are a few common holiday scenarios for newlyweds, and how to navigate through each of them.
When You Live Close to Both Families
Though living close to both families may seem like planning will be a breeze, think again. When you live close to both families, the tendency is to think that you can do every single event. If you’re game, then you should absolutely go for it.
However, it’s important to remember that the holidays are also about slowing down, spending quality time with family, and doing things you enjoy together.
So if you can’t make your your aunt’s Christmas cookie baking party on Tuesday after work, don’t stress out too much. If you have a scheduling conflict, be honest and direct to make your plans known. Be sure to communicate to your spouse which events are the most important for you so that you can avoid conflict.
Your spouse may just not understand how meaningful Christmas Eve ice skating is until you explain it. A good solution for reducing the amount of events you attend is to consider having a gathering at your house so that you can see a bunch of your family members all at once without having to drive all over town.
However you choose to spend your holidays, just remember to relax and have fun instead of focusing on all of the hustle and bustle.
When You Live Close to One Family, but Far From Another
When you live close to one family and far from another, the simplest thing is, of course, to just stay in town. However, because you get to see one family often throughout the year, you should definitely try to make an effort to see the long-distance family for the holidays if it’s ever in your budget.
Living away from family can be very difficult, so if it’s your spouse’s family that lives across the country, be sure to take their feelings on where to spend the holidays into special consideration.
Even though you may hate to miss your grandmother’s special Christmas morning breakfast, your spouse may just miss seeing his or her family on a regular basis. Try to make plans to see the in-town family before or after your holiday trip and if it makes sense, invite the out-of-town family for a holiday visit so that you can all spend time together.
When You Live Far Away from Both Families
Living far away from both of your families is a challenge no matter what time of the year, but it can get especially tricky during the holidays.
Though you may dream of waking up on Christmas morning in your childhood bedroom with the smell of your dad’s famous cinnamon buns baking in the oven, your spouse may be fantasizing about watching A Christmas Story and drinking eggnog with his family on Christmas Eve—which just so happen to be 10 hours away from your family.
The reality is that you may have to switch off holidays between families. If you spend Thanksgiving with your spouse’s family, then maybe you’ll spend Christmas with yours.
If you and your spouse have a fairly large home and you feel comfortable hosting everyone, then maybe a new tradition can start. However, this can get tricky with divorced parents or siblings who also live far away and have their spouses to consider as well. (See how complicated this can get so quickly!)
Another option may be to go early in the month with one family and spend the actual holiday with another family. Whatever way you decide to go about it, the most important thing to remember is that you are not going to make everyone happy all the time.
However, at the end of the day they will be glad to see you at any time of the year, no matter what the occasion.
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