Edit: Family at the Holidays

Updated on December 25, 2012
M.L. asks from Dulles, VA
20 answers

My husband believes we should wait to meet with family to exchange gifts until after the holidays. He thinks it takes away from "our" family celebration when there are a million gifts from other places given before the holiday. What do you think? Does getting gifts from grandparents before Christmas take away from "the day"? What would you think of a family that asked to meet for a family get together AFTER Christmas?

Added: Per his request we moved my family get together to the Saturday before Christmas instead of Christmas Eve. Everyone liked it better so it stuck, but now he is complaining that we shouldn't see anyone before Christmas. We also see his family on Christmas day. He thinks we shouldn't do that either. Everyone else likes the situtation except him. He stesses me out with the complaints and he is stressed because he doesn't want to go anywhere. The holidays are never enjoyable. Not sure if it would help, but I guess I am willing to consider the weekend after if things would be more pleasant.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

He's being unreasonable.
I think his premise is ridiculous and only makes the holiday more difficult, logistically.
I'd never agree to that. But I don't have to live with him!
Good Luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Honestly, I think that is way too much focus on gifts, unless he is referring to gifts but is really stressed out by the running around.

Ask him if next year he would llike to request that there are no gift exchanges with extended family (that is if you like that idea). In the meantime, it is too late to change this year. He is the one adding stress now.

If you are willing, let him know you will discuss different options, but not for THIS year.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

You've already compromised, ever consider leaving him home alone?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

he sounds like the kind of guy that wants a low stress Christmas home with his own little family. Lots of us are that way. I hate going anywhere the day before, the day of, or the day after Christmas. Friends and family need to mail their gifts so you can put them under the tree and open them for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. (we always opened outsider gifts on Christmas Eve), take pictures send them to the gift givers.
Since you know Husband has this issue, next year do more family visiting at Thanksgiving and New Years Day and keep Christmas to yourselves.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would question whether his issue really is about "no gifts before Christmas Day." That sounds like it might be a smokescreen, to me.

Does he have issues with his family or with yours? Tensions, old rivalries? Doesn't like to see them all that much but does it as a duty? Does he get along OK with your folks or is he cool toward them, so might not look forward to the hustle and bustle of the kids being all excited and wound up at the grandparents'?

Does he possibly feel that your own nuclear family's Christmas Day gifts won't be as expensive or exciting as the gifts the kids would get from grandparents before Christmas? So maybe he's worried that if the kids get these gifts early, what he and you provide will be downgraded somehow? (in other words-- he doesn't want to be shown up?)

Is he otherwise (not just at Christmastime) a quieter or shyer person than you naturally are, so that he feels overwhelmed by all the build-up to Christmas? He might just truly not like a big fuss -- and he might be using the gift thing as an excuse to avoid that fuss but not tell you directly that he doesn't like the event.

It's interesting that HE pushed the move of the family gathering to the weekend before Christmas -- and now HE is the one wanting to do away with even that. I think you and he need to have an honest talk about what his real problem with all this is. I'd remind him that the move to the weekend before the holiday was done purely to accommodate his wishes, and now he is presenting everyone with a new demand. And he's not just cutting out your family but his own as well.

I am not a fan of cramming in visits to all the relatives on the 24th and 25th just to keep up with the arbitrary calendar, but the way he has insisted on changes to meet HIS needs, and seems to be using the gift thing as an excuse - well, I think you need to find out what's really eating him about this. And then he needs to deal with it, because he's trying to run the show for not just your family but his and your parents'.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Do not give in to hm please. Its the Holdiday season. This is when you see family members, open gifts and just enjoy each other. If he does not want to do this then he can stay home or engage.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My family did that all the time when I was growing up. Sometimes there was the immediate family get together, but we did ours first. Then went to grandparents later that day. Grandparents had us over for dinner.

My dad had kids from a previous marriage, so they had their own get together, then the extended part got together the first Saturday after Christmas. They still do that because their kids have kids, etc.

So nothing wrong with it at all. Kids like it more because Christmas seems to last FOREVER when you go somewhere new and get presents after the actual day!

Add: his attitude seems over the top a bit. See if you can get him to clarify what's really going on for him, and if he can't, then let him stay home and go enjoy family stuff. Keep clarifying that it's not the gifts, it's the family. If for some reason he is feeling like he must compete with the gifting and that somehow he's not doing well enough, he needs to let go of that one big time.

He needs to know that it's not ok to screw up everyone else's holiday because he's not happy, but let him know that you want to help his be enjoyable too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

See if you can alternate years. We have a quiet family celebration one year and then the next we all travel to be with my parents and have all my siblings, their kids, etc. My husband gets exhausted and stressed with the big celebrations but can handle it knowing that the next year it will be extremely low key and relaxed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I think it really depends on your relationships with your family of origins.

I come a very complicated/enmeshed dynamic with them and so does DH with his.

This year we have spent all major holidays apart from both sides so we can start having a sense of separation and boundaries from our extended families. We want to start our own traditions as our own little family and those days are special days.

It has been very difficult telling everyone that we ARE doing our own thing which is very reflective that we needed to pull away.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. As I settled in for the evening, I realized there wasn't a single interaction that was meant to make either myself or my husband feel "bad." And I know it's because they simply were not there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

What do I think?
I think your husband is being a bit controlling, personally.

Listen, it's going to be what we make of it. The other day my son (5) returned from a playdate with a gift from a dear friend. The moment the door closed he wanted to open the present. I reminded him once that if he did, it wouldn't be under the tree. You know, he didn't care in the least and we had a new book to read at bedtime that night.

This takes NOTHING away from our Christmas morning. He's still going to have plenty of things to open. In fact, my observation is that kids often have TOO much to open on Christmas morning and this makes them cranky/emotional.

If anyone had been kind enough to think of my son (or us) for the holidays and want to see us open our present from them, I'm more than happy to oblige. To me, Christmas 'fun' isn't so much about how many presents there will be to open, it's really about having the fun of being together that morning, seeing what Santa brought, and thinking about our loved ones--talking to them on the phone--all that. Our family isn't Christian, but we do try not to make it about the gifts, but more about the other traditions.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Have you told him how stressed his stress is making you? Does he care about how other people feel or is he always this self-centered? I would tell him that the plans are already made for this year and that you're keeping them. Remind him of the difficulty of talking with everyone and making changes to plans. If he insists then tell him he's going to have to work it out with everyone else.

I would so not put up with this after having the above conversation. I'd tell him to just let go about this; that I wasn't going to listen to him anymore. Then I'd walk out of the room if he brought it up again. It's right for you to have a boundary so that you can feel less stress.

And if he's this unfeeling about other things, I'd go to counseling and learn how to change the dynamics of my relationship. I'm thinking that you have told him how you feel and that you've reminded him that plans have been made and all the reasons it won't work this year. I'd agree to work out a compromise for next year before plans get made. It's really too late to change plans now.

Hmmmm You posted this on the Saturday before Christmas. How can you possibly change plans for Saturday?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think it's silly to avoid seeing your families on Christmas because of gifts. I wouldn't make gifts the focus of the holiday. It should be about spending time together. I wouldn't avoid family because you don't want the kids overwhelmed with gifts. What kind of message does it send to the kids, that the holiday is all about how to space out the receiving of gifts? I understand seeing family after the holiday because the travel is too much or there are too many relatives on the various sides of the family to see them all at once, but this should not be because of the gifts.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

My mom use to have hers around New Years... but she stopped having everyone over 2-3 yrs ago because we have to many kids, she doesn't want to buy gifts for my hubby's kids (she has hated him for one reason or another since we started dating over 20 yrs ago) & don't like cleaning at all, but most of all to have people over or after it and I'm not there to dust her house.

I have been having a non-gift party on Christmas Eve for 2 years... more so because my mom won't have us over anymore & also since my grandma died my dad's side doesn't do anything with eachother & it gives me a chance to see some of my family I don't get to see much during the year. Not everyone comes, but the holidays are about family, so I give them all the chance to come over.

My in-laws on the other hand - always invite us over and are really in my kids lives! They do come over Christmas Eve for my party and usually come over Christmas morning to watch the kids open gifts & get theirs from us. Then, we go over to their house for dinner & gifts from them on Christmas day.

I don't think it hurts or takes away from Christmas to open a few gift other places as long as you don't go so many places that the kids are tired of opening gifts before Christmas. But I also can see his point of veiw, because some of my kids are smaller & they do get tried of all the work of opening gifts & the fun of playing with all the paper gets boring. So, maybe it is better to try to do most of the family celebration after just to see if your kids get a bigger kick out of Christmas morning... if not just to make his holiday season a little happier.

The other option is to see if the grandparents are willing to bring the stuff over & have all the gift giving at one time... of course you would have to help them bring everything over - maybe when the kids are sleeping Christmas Eve.

I hope you are able to work out how to spend your holidays and the season goes smoothly! Merry Christmas!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We are having "Christmas" with the extended family the weekend after Christmas. Some years we do it before, but this is how it's working out this year (we always work around the out of town guests.)
We all prefer it this way. Everyone gets to stay home and relax in their PJ's on Christmas Day, no running around, no choosing which side, who's house to go to this year.
What's most important to us is that we are ALL together for one day. Everyone is married with kids and in laws and even some grandchildren, so this makes it less stressful for everyone.
It's too bad your husband is the only one who feels this way but I can kind of see where he's coming from.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I prefer to do the family thing after Christmas Day so that there are still celebrations and gifts to be had after the BIG day. With such a big month long build up to Christmas I would find it such a let down for Christmas Day to be the end of it. I do consider Christmas to be twelve days long, so celebrations should be between Christmas Day and Epiphany. I also find that the week before Christmas is just so busy preparing for the holidays, I wouldn't be able to enjoy a get together during that time at all. So I understand how he feels.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

So he wants to have just you and him with the kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, all day.

That sounds like what a lot of moms on here are posting about every holiday season. They don't want to run here and there and all over the area a few minutes here then a few minutes there...

So I am not sure what you're saying. Most people are trying to work towards not doing Christmas with anyone outside of the immediate family.But you're wanting to do the opposite?

You want to go here and there on Christmas every year? What about the families you'd be visiting? Don't they deserve to have Christmas with their own families without a lot of visitors dropping by?

That's what I think anyway.

We did Christmas with my side during the week either before or after and with hubby's family here in town the day of or the day after. Just because they didn't have anyone at home with them or within 500 miles. So we did go over there when hubby's mom was alive. We'd eat and enjoy hanging out for a while. Since she passed away my FIL usually travels to other family members such as my MIL's sisters families or some Gemstone activity or another. So we have the whole week to do pretty much nothing with my grand kids that live with us. We do make it a big deal for them though. I would not want to have any other people dropping by or planing around them. I rather would have time to ourselves.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

My children are all grown, and in their lives there are often "extra Christmases" after the 25th. Sometimes there's an "extra Christmas" before the 25th. It's just a matter of when everybody they're related to can manage to get together. (It didn't happen when they were growing up because we didn't have nearby relatives to get together with.)

It sounds as if your husband would like to keep Christmas gifts for the 25th (or later) to make the day more special. And I'm assuming that when a grandparent gives a gift before Christmas day, he or she expects it to be opened right away. So there must be a reason why the grandparents aren't invited over for Christmas day. (I'm not asking the reason!)

I don't think it's too big a deal to have after-Christmas Christmas parties. In England in olden times, Christmas lasted for twelve days. That whole period was marked by partying. (The last day, January 5, was called "twelfth night"). That always sounded like a great system to me! So maybe you all could have an Old English Christmas...? At any rate, you could give it a try and see how it works for you. It may be different from the customs you've been used to, but trying different ways to celebrate can be part of the fun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I think it's nice to space things out. And I think it's nice not to get so fixated on Dec. 25th that you lose sight of enjoying the time you spend with friends and family. By that I mean, if rushing around to visit with lots of people on the 24th and 25th means more rushing and less enjoying, what's the point? If you go from one party to the next and opening presents is a bit of a blur, where was the enjoyment.

When my husband and I were dating, his sister was the only one with kids. He also had 2 brothers, both single. Christmas morning everyone when over to her house and brought all their presents with them. So her kids opened all their presents from Santa and then all their presents from Grandma and Grandpa and 3 uncles and were so overwhelmed with presents that they were very, very crabby and no one really enjoyed it.

Now that we have kids and want to have some time on Christmas morning and don't arrive until 3 or 4, it's a much more enjoyable experience. Her kids have plenty of time to simply enjoy their presents from Santa and spend time as a family. Our kids also have some time enjoying their presents in their own house, in their pj's. When we get to their house we have dinner and then open presents. So much nicer.

I don't think after Christmas is a big deal at all. But consider offering other Christmas presents a day or two before Christmas. Why not meet with relatives on the 22nd or 23rd?

Also, growing up we always drove to my Grandma's house for Christmas. We usually drove there on the 22nd or 23rd and stayed for a few days. So, my parents arranged for Santa to come the night before we left for Grandma's house. That was the time we had our individual family Christmas. It was always very special.

Less time worrying about the date. More time thinking about ways to make each part special.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlottesville on

If he is the one who suggested seeing your family the weekend prior to Christmas and NOW no longer wants to go. You can either remind his it was his idea and tell him to grow up and come along or leave him at home with a list of things he needs to do while you are gone celebrating the holidays with your family. When it comes to his family, again give the option of growing up and continuing with what the majority likes, or leave him at home with another long to-do list, The other option is to take 2 cars to these events so he doesn't feel trapped there when he wants to leave and you and children would prefer to stay. Your children forming a relationship with their extended family is much more important than your husband wanting to avoid large family functions. By him having a to-do list of things, it gives both of you a valid excuse for his absence.
The best decision that I have made was to leave my husband at home when my daughter and I spend holidays with the family. He doesn't mope and complain about having to go/stay and we have a wonderful visit with everyone. It is really a win-win for all involved/

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Mom:

Christmas is a Holy Season. It is not for a materialistic exchange of gifts.
The Magi brought gifts to the Babe in a Manager. They were gifts that were symbolic of foretelling his life.

Gift giving is not for adults, it is for children.

We, Americans, have lost sight of what Christmas really means. Christmas is about renewing relationships not getting into a hustle and bustle of materialism.

If your husband is complaining, his needs are being met. I would suggest you re-evaluate your priorities.

Good luck.
Merry Christmas.

P.S. You can come to my house. I am the only one here. No company,
no visitors. How does that sound for a traditional Christmas?

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions