Extended Family Vacation for First Christmas?

Updated on June 30, 2014
T.F. asks from Laurel, MD
27 answers

Every year my Wife's siblings and their families got to disney world December 20th -January 2nd. MY wife and I have never gone because we didn't have kids. We have just adopted two little girls and now we are on vacation so they could meet her family. And everyone is asking if we will be going to Disney with them this year.

I understand that this is a family tradition and that our girls might not get to see their cousins very often as they live about 4 hours away BUT the girls will only be 2 and 4 (the cousins range in age from 4 to 15) I feel like at this young age they will not appreciate Disney as much as they will spending their first Christmas as out daughters in our home. If we go to disney there will be a lot less money presents for them and they won't get to make the memories of their first christmas with just us.

My wife is very on the fence and wants me to make the final decision before we go back home on Tuesday wether we are in or not. Ah! Help please!

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So What Happened?

We ended up debating this all night and in the end my wife and I decided we will partake in this trip every other year, starting next year! Some of the family are definitely huffy about it but we are happy with our choices!

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answers from Abilene on

Disney at Christmas is not a lot of fun. My family has had annual passes for a few years and I LOVE disney. I could never, in good conscience, recommend anyone going then. It is so thick with people that you have to walk single file all day. We went one time at Christmas and we will NEVER go again.

The best time to go is the first or second week of December because they're all decked out for Christmas and the crowds are low.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You can celebrate Christmas and make the memories on Dec. 18. They will not know the difference. We did that once when I was in hospital for Christmas. Disney with e tended family sounds awesome to me. Only drawback for me at that time of year, are the crowds. Tough decision. Good luck. They would love Disney. No matter what you decide, it will be the best Christmas these girls have ever had.

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answers from Dallas on

Congratulations! This is one of the billions of parenting decisions you will make over the years. Always remember, these are YOUR kids and however you decide to raise them, you need to make the decisions.

It's simple, no.

The way my H and I make decisions is, if one of us feels strongly about something and the other is on the fence, then we go with the stronger feelings.

Don't equivocate, just say, that's not going to work for us this year. If you give a reason, they will try to talk you out of it.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Unless you're planning to make THAT your annual Holiday tradition as well, I would say no. Do a few years of your own thing, and then try that out for a special Christmas vacation. After that you will be able to make an informed decision about what you prefer to do as a family each year, from experience. Otherwise, you'll get sucked in and never know what else you could have been doing, what other traditions you may like.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I think your kids are too young to really get the Disney thing. Seems out of place as far as a Christmas venue...but I guess that's just me. If they were just adopted, they need Mommy and Daddy time at home more than anything else.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I personally would want to have my own Christmas at home. When we still lived in Texas near family, we would actually have extended family "Christmas" on my dad's birthday on Dec 19 because my parents felt their grandkids should have the experience of waking up in their own house and discovering their gifts from Santa.

And now that we live 1500 miles away from extended family we just stay home and do our own thing rather than fight the crowds traveling. And when I see how harried so many of my friends get trying to get every place they are "expected" to be I love our small, laid back holiday even more. We created our own traditions for our family, and while we do miss seeing relatives, we always know we will see them the next time we get to TX or they come up here.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Congratulations on your new additions! By all means, stay at home. Disney is very crowded during that week, and it's overwhelming for kids who are older than your two. Children do not understand crowds, they don't understand waiting in line, they don't understand the sensory overload of the parks. They are too young for most of the rides, and they don't even know who most of the characters are. Just look at all the kids crying because Pluto or Goofy came up to them! I love Disney but we never took little kids there.

It's not purely a financial decision, although it is a very expensive trip. That doesn't mean you have to overwhelm your daughters with a lot of Christmas gifts either. They are going through a major adjustment, so keeping things calm while you get established as a family is a good thing.

I don't think you have to make the decision right now if you aren't ready. What's the point? Do you have to face all the family members and justify your decision? You've already introduced your daughters to this big family, is that right? So you're already being pressured to sign up for more of this? I imagine there is some desire to make reservations but otherwise what's the hurry? Go home, calm down, get the girls reoriented to your household, and take a breath.

If your wife is on the fence, she's not totally committed to Disney anyway. She may just want you to make the decision so she doesn't have to be the one to confront her family and their pressure. That kind of makes you the "bad cop" which may not be pressure you want to bear on your own. But if she's not committed, and you're not committed, that's your answer.

You should also take this time to evaluate your family finances. Two children means you need to start banking money for all their expenses, not just the routine stuff but the braces and the swing set and the activities fees and the college tuition. Maybe a high-end trip every year is not going to work for you. You don't have to decide all of that now, but just decide that maybe 2014 isn't going to be your year. It sounds like none of the cousins get to spend Christmas at home either - that's kind of a shame, but I digress. FYI That 15 year old is going to get tired of this Disney routine soon anyway, and his/her parents are going to be socked with college costs in a couple of years, so the whole thing may disintegrate unless everyone is fairly well off.

Do what you need to do. Traveling on the holidays is very stressful for many people, and by September Mamapedia posts are going to be filed with laments about having to split holidays with 2 sets of in-laws or shuttling kids to 2 Thanksgivings and never being at home.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Unless you actively plan to allow the rest of the family to dictate to you and your wife and kids how to spend your time and holidays for the rest of your married life together.... then just say no.

I see this as the ideal time to stay home, form your own family traditions, and bond with your girls. That will be more special to them than anything else you could ever do. If you decide, at a later date or a later Christmas, to participate in this tradition, (maybe for just one year even)... then great! That's your decision.
But honestly, be very careful here. Because often a family with such set-in-stone traditions, with the best of intentions, can take over and begin telling you how to raise your kids and how you should celebrate holidays, birthdays, etc. The first kids are when this happens. Once you let them run they show, it's very difficult to get the reins back without a lot of drama.

If you say no now, then they will be less likely to presume that they can make plans for you in the future. It's very nice to be asked to participate in something.... it's something else to be obligated under threat of the family's wrath if you don't participate. You don't really know which way this will go, do you?

I'd say no. And then make your first Christmas with your girls exactly what YOU and your wife have envisioned for your family. Not live out someone else's vision.

Congratulations on expanding your family!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My adopted daughter came to live with me at 7. I think you are right to stay at home. They need that stability. Focus on what is best for your girls. They are too young to enjoy Disneyland and too young to appreciate family. I understand that you want them to meet family and family wants to meet them. I suggest it's best to do that without all the chaos of Disneyland. If you go your girls will be in a strange place with strange people and not just relatives. This would be difficult for most children that age let alone with children in a new home.

I think starting your own traditions is the right thing to do. A quiet time together is a good foundation.

Plan to introduce them at small get togethers over time. Four hours traveling is reasonable for visits.

I just read that your daughters have just heen with you a month. I especially urge you to stay home. They need consistency and calm to adjust to you and your home.

You're doing a really good thing adopting them. Of course you're overwhelmed along with the love and joy you're feeling. I suggest you find a support group for adoptive parents. I also recommend a family counselor to help you help your girls to adjust. My family sees a counselor who works with children and adults. We are learning ways to relate with each other as well as parenting skills. She refers us to resources to further help us. Such a counselor could help you find a support group for adoptive parents. I also suggest parenting classes. There are good books that can help you understand ways in which your children may need extra support.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

That sounds overwhelming for small children that were just adopted. Especially since that is the busiest time for Disney. If it were me I would wait until your children are a little older to go.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I know a lot of families do it but I disagree with Disney World for the holidays. It's an artificial world, you are not home, no tree to place presents under etc. I guess I'm old fashioned but I think the holidays should be spent at home. I also do not like the idea of all those employees at Disney having to work on holidays and not be able to spend time with their own families but 'making nice' for a bunch of strangers.

To answer your question: IMO they are too young. They won't remember a lot of it and most of the cool rides are not for their age group or size. If you decide to go I would wait until they are in the 8-12 range.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Well the 4 year old probably would love it. Anyway...this is my opinion: You have every year to do this trip so there is no hurry. If it were me I would stay home this first year. I'd have a nice, quiet, bonding time doing family Christmas traditions at home and I would keep it mellow. Another year I would meet up with my family to go to Disney...maybe when the girls were 4 and 6. I personally would only go for a few days...not Dec 20 to Jan 2. That would be a long time away from home and too expensive for me!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I've been to Disney World at Christmas time - it is wall to wall people.
Glad I tried it once but I'll never go at that time of year again.
Next year or in a few years would be better.
Do your Christmas at home and establish your own traditions with your new family.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Congratulations on adopting your daughters!!! I'm sure that is very exciting for you!! I agree with you, at their ages they most likely will not appreciate Disney as much as you would like. Ultimately this decision is for you and your wife to make. But also consider how you want your first Christmas to be. I'm sure you will want to cherish it forever. I know my first time being mom, and even now um strange with wanting the family together on Christmas morning. Good luck in your difficult situation.


Congratulations on adopting your daughters!!! I'm sure that is very exciting for you!! I agree with you, at their ages they most likely will not appreciate Disney as much as you would like. Ultimately this decision is for you and your wife to make. But also consider how you want your first Christmas to be. I'm sure you will want to cherish it forever. I know my first time being mom, and even now um strange with wanting the family together on Christmas morning. Good luck in your difficult situation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm with you. your girls are still settling into their new family situation, and they need to be the focus. you and your wife are setting up traditions that will stretch into all of your futures. there's time enough to do disney with her family in the future if you choose to, but i'd plan to spend the next few christmases with just your little nuclear family.
family vacations are nice, but i have to say, i would not care for spending each christmas away from home, and with the extended fam. i love seeing everyone on the holidays, but christmas morning is about us, and us alone.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would definitely choose staying home this first year. There will be plenty of years in the future to join the Disney tradition. You didn't mention if the girls were adopted from another country or not, but if they are then my advice to stay home is even stronger.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Have Christmas at home-Disney will always be there-but they will only be this young-once.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would stay home this year but go next year . Let them build memories with you at home . That is a long time to go to Disney . I'm not sure I would go for the whole 2 weeks next year even .Congrats on your new family !!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

They will still be getting used to you and their new life in six months' time. It's a slow process. Don't take them somewhere that's full of a ton of stimulation and then also expect them to interact with and be nice with a bunch of new relatives they have barely met -- and many of whom are kids who are so much older that they won't be interested in your young kids for more than five minutes.

If you go, and your girls get tired, and cranky, and don't really want that "together time" with their cousins -- your wife is going to be disappointed in her new kids' behavior. And the kids will sense that and both she and they will not be happy.

You do not have to do this just because you didn't have kids and now you suddenly do. It's not a magic just-add-water happy families recipe; it's a recipe for stressed kids. Stay home and establish your own tradition this first year at least. Let them feel like Christmas is about your nuclear family more than about Disney and being with the extended family. You and your wife might just find, when you eventually do this trip, that it just isn't how YOU want to celebrate Christmas, ever, with your girls -- and that will be OK; it sounds as if there is strong expectation in the family that "everyone always goes" but don't let that pressure you if you find out that it simply is not your thing. I personally can't see using that many vacation days for Disney at Christmas --what about other time off with the girls throughout the year?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would think this year for sure you would want a family Christmas at home. I see in your SWH that you decided to do every other year and that sounds perfect. Enjoy your new family and ignore the haters.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I would stay home and show them what the real tradition of Christmas is. And why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place.
Church and family at home.

Later when your traditions have been established, then maybe go at some point to Disney for Christmas. Or even the day after Christmas until the 2nd or 3rd of January,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would TOTALLY do the first family Christmas at home. You only have one chance to make this memory. This should be about you, your wife and your two daughters spending the holiday together.

Besides, Disney would totally be a hassle with kids that young. Christmas is their busiest time of year. It would be crazy!

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, T.:

Going to Disney World is not about family, it is about buying entertainment.
Christmas now is about buying things.
We, Americans, are no longer interested in family and building relationships. It's all about spending money, having fun, and superficial relationships.
Take your family to Sunday School and Church. Teach them how to worship the God of our Creation, remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy, as well as, the ethics that go along with this first great commandment.

Yes, build a foundation for your family. They will be leaders of our country in the future.

Thanks for asking.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I just read your SWH...so glad you and your wife made the decision together.

Congratulations and welcome to parenthood! A bit of advice...you will NEVER please everyone, so just make sure your wife and girls are happy!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

To be honest I'd go because it's family time. The whole family will be there and your new kiddo's will have so much fun. They will remember this time.

For the rest of their lives they'll have you as parents. Do Christmas the week before you leave..they ARE 2 and 4 and won't really care. This way you have the traditional Christmas at home with them AND get to do family time too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

If it were me, I'd say, "What a wonderful idea - but we'd like to wait a couple of years until the girls were older." I like the idea of having a First Christmas at home!

But (this is going to sound as if I'm waffling on my answer), if the family were really upset about that answer, I might change my mind, go, and have a good family time - keeping in mind a plan to go again later when your daughters can enjoy it more. They will remember the good family time, too, and it will be good for the relatives.

Keep in mind that Disney is very crowded during the holidays and can be cranky-making.

And congratulations on your two new daughters!



answers from Boston on

You would be surprised...4 is a great age for Disney and the 2 year old will manage. Please go! Great memories for all

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