Family Holiday Debate

Updated on October 31, 2011
J.S. asks from Hudson, OH
17 answers

Hubby and I have been having this debate since we have been married, but it is even more of a debate since we are now living in a different country. I would like some opinions on the matter.
Hubby's family is his Mom, Dad (who are divorced) and his sister (and her 3 teenage children). This is who we get together with each time we are in town, weather it be a casual weekend, or a major holiday like Christmas. His Mom has a brother that she does not get a long with, and his Dad has a brother 2 hours away that he is in contact with, but that they rarely see. Hubby is not in contact with any of his cousins, etc.
My family is my Mom and two sisters and (their 4 teenage children). However, at Christmas, we get together our extended family at my Aunt's house each year - Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc. It is the only time we get everyone together except for weddings and funerals. It is usually 25 people or so.
So, the long standing debate has been whether or not Christmas Day has to be 50/50 - one year his Mom's house, one year my Mom's house. Now that we are living overseas, I am asking that we spend 2 Christmas' in a row at my family's house so that I can see my extended family, and go spend several days at his family's house, starting the day after Christmas. Him and his family see it as "unfair" that they don't get Crhstimas DAY. I feel that they should be flexible and happy to see us, and try to be understanding that if they insist on a particular day, that it robs me of the chance to see my extended family at all.
Rescheduling 5-6 families to a different day on my part would be a nightmare, plus my immediate faimly does not have a place to host, so I would have to ask my Aunt to offer her home on an additoinal day.
I would love your opinions, Thank you.


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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for your input and opinions, keep them coming!
Our families live 7 hours drive (or a plane ride for 4) away, so splitting the day in half, or Christmas Eve/Christmas Day is not really possible.
And the difference is, living overseas, I will be missing any other events that occur during the year - weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc - that I have been able to go to before in order to see my extended family.. With a 19 hour plane ride, it is likely I will only be around to see them for Christmas.

More Answers



answers from Tampa on

Actually, I choose "None of the Above" most years. Now that we have children, it is most important to me that we spend time together just the 4 of us on the holiday. If I am running myself ragged all day to cook food for and clean for company, and then not have time to sit down and play with my children on the holiday, then I consider the day to be a failure. The last straw for me was 4 years ago when my DH invited his family to our house for Christmas Day without asking me. I was almost 8 months pregnant...I was livid. I spent all day cooking and cleaning...didn't have much time to sit down and enjoy my firstborn. I was bitterly disappointed and told my DH so. I realize that some folks thrive on it, but it's just not my thing to have a houseful of people for the holiday. It is just way too stressful to me. We usually go see folks the day after Christmas. I don't see anything wrong with your solution given the circumstances.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

While I see your point, I guess I don't understand what's changed?/ THEIR point:

If you only see your extended family every other year ANYWAY, why does being overseas change that?

It sounds as if you don't care about the DAY so much (so wouldn't care if you didn't get to see your family on christmas day, so long as you get to see them at all)... but it sounds as if the day itself is meaningful to your husband and his family. To see it from their perspective, you may need to change the context. Imagine him asking NOT to see your family at all for two years. If that idea is absolutely unsupportable to you, you have now found yourself in their shoes.

My suggestion is a work around. Since the day doesn't matter at all to you, GIVE UP THE DAY, so he can spend xmas with his family who DOES care... and deal with the nightmare of scheduling. You may be surprised; coming back statestide from overseas is something people GLADLY tear apart their schedules to squeak in time with you.

OTW... what you're asking is that THEY 'deal with the nightmare'. Not a logistical one, but an emotional one. As in you're happy and have it easy, and don't even have to bother with a phonecall to your aunt to SEE if she'd be willing to host a 'boxing day', and your husband and his family can just suck it and be sad and upset.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think that what you are proposing is totally reasonable. My husband and I are different religions so the only holidays where we need to choose where to go are Thanksgiving and July 4th. Thanksgiving is a huge deal in his family - it's the only time the extended family gathers outside of weddings and funerals and it includes my husband's grandmother, her two sisters, and their spouses, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (40+ people total). Sometimes we travel for this and my family totally understands and doesn't make a stink about not seeing us. On the flip side, my dad's cousin hosts a July 4th BBQ for that extended family and again, it's the only time we see my grandfather's siblings with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so my ILs know that as much as we'd love to join them for their fabulous beach house BBQ, we won't be there.

I think that given that it would be quite easy to see your husband's family any day during your holiday stay, it makes sense to see your extended family whenever they gather and then see his family another day and make that equally special.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You should share. One Christmas with your family and one with his.

Fair is fair. Your family is more important to you and his is more important to him.

Good luck to you and yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why do families put that kind of pressure on their kids? Christmas is a day on the calendar. Do they not understand that you can do the same thing
the day after Christmas that you do on Christmas. I would go to your Moms and see your extended family. Heck you are spending several days with his family. What do they want from you. I feel for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

In our family, my family and my inlaws family are very accommodating. One time, they even waited about 3 extra days after Christmas to open presents for us who was late arriving. Christmas DAY is just a day to celebrate, they can do the big stuff the next day. Also, there have been times my inlaws have invited my extended family over for Christmas so we could all be together and not have to split that day.

If you family and inlaws live close, then you can certainly split the day, or do one Christmas Eve and the other Christmas Day. For us, whoever has the hardest time scheduling families to get together is the one we go when everyone can be together, since the other side is more flexible.



answers from Cleveland on

hmm, i get that it makes more sense to see your family at Christmas, since there are so many of them and it's the only time everyone gets together.

But I also understand where his family is coming from since there are so few of them, you guys are really missed in such a small crowd.

I know it doesn't help your problem, but maybe it will help you understand why his family feels the way they do.


answers from Cleveland on

See if your extended family would agree to host their big Cmas get together the day after Cmas every other year ?

I say 50/50.



answers from Minneapolis on

What you are proposing sounds perfectly reasonable and logical to me. It allows you to see the most people in the easiest way, now that you have to travel overseas to do your holiday visiting! What I've learned is that there are many people who do not think logically, but instead think with their emotions. Unless you present this in their way of thinking, logic may not win out over emotion.

Try to appeal to your husband and his family with emotion. Tell them how much you miss your extended family, how long it will be until you would be able to see them again, how much you would like to spend more than ONE day with your husband's family, etc.

I have a large extended family of logical thinkers. We now have our "Christmas" gathering on the first week of January, so that everyone can be with their immediate families during Christmas week.



answers from Washington DC on

What you're proposing is the ONLY thing that makes sense! Why can't your husband's family see that?? I agree with the poster who said Christmas DAY is just a day on the calendar (as far as seeing family goes, the 26th is just as good) For the past few years this is how my family has worked it out. Picture a circle. Me and my 2 brothers live all around the outside of the circle. My parents live in the middle. We all want to see each other around Christmas time, but we all have little kids and want them to wake up to Santa in their own homes. Also, the drive for me to one of my brother's is almost 10 hours. The drive to my mom and dad's (for each of us) is only about 4 or 4 1/2. So, we're all in our own homes for Christmas. Then around December 29 or 30 we all meet at my parents house for New Years, usually staying 2 or 3 days. Since there are 3 of us "kids" my parents rotate around and drive to one of us for Christmas day, so they're not alone. So how to my in-laws come into the picture? They live 3 hours away. The only family they really want to spend the holidays with is my family and my husband's sister's family. Luckily SIL lives 20 minutes from me, so MIL and FIL come to us on Christmas. Last year was my year to have my parents AND host my husband's side. So, we had ALL the grandparents at my house, and SIL and her family just came over for the day. My in-laws are flexible. They know that the only time I see my brothers is at New Years (and once in the summer) Otherwise, the drive is just too long, and we all have school aged kids that can't be missing days of school while we travel 10 hours. I'd be posting the same question as you if my in-laws weren't cool about it. Good luck to you. I hope it all works out!


answers from Kansas City on

Not sure how helpful this will but. For years his family did Thanksgiving and mine we spent Christmas with. All of the sudden a it switch a few years ago, then we switch back. And now, if we have Thanksgiving with his family we have Christmas with mine, and the next year Thanksgiving with mine and Christmas with his.

I feel you gotta switch and not do two years in a row...fair is fair. Sorry! I know it sound petty but for me it's not a battle/fight I want to have with my husband or his family.



answers from Appleton on

You don't say if your's and hubby's family live in the same town or many miles apart.

Why can't you spend Christmas with one family and New Year's with the other?

Since my kids are all grown up and have kids of their own and in laws to juggle I refuse to insist taht they spend any day with me except my Birthday which is Dec 24th otherwise known as Christmas Eve. I simply want them to come over for a meal and spend time with me on my birthday. If they need to go to my ex husband's or the inlaws I will adjust the time of the meal I prepare. I refuse to fight over the holidays. We do another dinner during the holidays, I let them choose the day.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Pittsburgh on

My fist impression, off-the-cuff response is that every other year is fair. Maybe I'm missing something--but because you have a larger extended family to see--you need 2:1 coverage for your family? That just doesn't seem fair.
If you need more time with your family, how about you host a dinner at a nice restaurant with a cozy private room?


answers from Medford on

We have a son who has different days off each week so we cant be sure he will be here for the exact Christmas day. Our daughter shares custody of her little girl with the dads family and they split holidays. He has her for Christmas Eve and brings her back at noon Christmas day, or the other way around, whatever they work out between them. We know they all have lives and schedules that dont automatically give them Dec 25th off and they cant always be here at the same time. We just sit down and ask them what works for them and we work around it. The big meal or opening gifts isnt what Christmas is all about so we are more than willing to change the dates activities to suit whoever can be here. At some point you can just decide to stay home and enjoy your own kids in your own home and the next year you can take the long trip and satisfy everyone else. Or have them all come to you. See how easy it is for all of them to rearrange thier lives for a set date, and maybe they wont give you such a hard time next year.


answers from Sioux City on

In our family we celebrate the Christmas season which starts on Christmas Day. We fudge it a little and include Christmas Eve. We begin with Going to Mass with just our kids. We open gifts with our children and then go to do something with his side of the family. Then we go to may family closer to New Years. My parents are exhausted because they work in retail and they enjoy Christmas Day just sleeping. We are Catholic and My husbands side is not. We like to keep everything Christ centered as much as possible including the gifts we give. My husbands family makes Christmas into a giant gift free for all and it is very uncomfortable.



answers from Los Angeles on

How far away is your husband's family from your family? I'm wondering if it would be feasible for at least your husband and kids to spend the second Christmas with his family while you spend at least part of the day with your extended family. It sounds like seeing your extended family is most important to YOU, so this might be a good compromise?

Another thing is that you might just ask your aunt if it would be possible to move Christmas to Christmas Eve next year. With more than a year to plan, maybe it would be? You already know that your in-laws are inflexible, maybe your family will be more so if they know that it is the difference between seeing you or not.

(ETA: I think your in-laws are being unreasonable.)

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