The Holiday Family Drama Already Starting -- Need Some Tips for Sanity!!!!!!!!!!

Updated on November 05, 2012
M.P. asks from Peoria, IL
16 answers

My in laws are married and my parents are divorced. No matter how I divide it, someone is ALWAYS mad!!!! I am getting so tired of this. I keep reminding myself it is because they love us and I really am grateful that they all want to be with us. I already got an ear-full from both of my parents. I know there is no sure fire way to please everyone every year, so I assume I will alternate each year who is pissed. But still, how can I keep my sanity when someone is always mad at me???? Not to mention the tension it causes between me and hubby. Ugh.

ETA: To clarify, hubby's side gets half of the holidays (which is totally fair) but that always leaves my family having to split their "half". My parents are perfectly amicable but don't necessarily want to spend their holidays together. We already have a "rotation" but there is still a lot of complaining. I would host at my house but it is too far for everyone to drive. And they all live within an hour of each other and driving all over town is a pain. We tried that in the early years.

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answers from Iowa City on

I would just invite everyone to one function at my house, maybe on Christmas Eve. If they can attend, great. If not, that is a shame and perhaps they will be able to attend next year.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I grew up in a house where there were divorced parents. my mom and biological dad were divorced when I was almost 3 my brother was 2 and my sister not yet 1. she got married to the man I called dad my whole life when I was 3 and a half. she had another baby with him when I was 7. divorced him when I was 8. when they divorced THEY divorced but us kids all got to go for visitation with him just like the baby did. he remarried when I was 9. Into a pretty big family. so consequently holidays were a big issue.

so they made the decision to split them. my mom was the best cook so she took thanksgiving. and made dinner for our family, my dad and his new wife. sometimes my biological dad and his new wife were there. step dads wife's family sometimes came. it was always a big happy celebration.

Christmas eve was with my step dads wife's family although my mom also was always invited. Christmas morning was with my mom although step dad and wife also came to watch us open Santa gifts.

when I got married into all of that was added Christmas at my husbands parents along with another celebration of Christmas with the extended family.

when our 3rd child was born I took over all the big meals. It was just to hard to lug 3 kids, gifts, food, and all the gear you need with you. I told them all and sent out emails to all of them that we would be cooking thanksgiving at our house and it would be at "X" time and then when Christmas rolled around it was decided that the Sunday before Christmas would be with hubby's family and Christmas eve would be with my family. Christmas day was for our own family. and that worked for close to 20 years. now we do my in laws on the same day as mom/family as the family is shrinking as the older generation is no longer with us.

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answers from San Francisco on

Offer to have them all over for Christmas Eve and stay home and ENJOY your Christmas day!
You have your own family now, it's time for them to let go and time for you to start your own family traditions.

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answers from Dallas on

Luckily I haven't had to deal with this, but here's my take. Talk to your hubby and the two of you decide which makes the most sense for your family in terms of what you want to do, and what the extended family tradiitons are on both sides. Make sure the rotation is fair between them. That is your starting point. And also - YOU can have YOUR traditions, so include them in your plan of "attack/defense".

Once you and hubby get on the same page - and don't even think about how either set of parents will be - then you can start letting the family know YOUR plans and how they will intersect with THEIR plans.

Tell them that you love them, and want to spend time DURING the holidays with them, but you MUST work with the schedule that you worked out with YOUR family (Hubby/Wife/Kids). If they are going to be mad at you, tell them again that you love them, but if they are going to treat you like a child and be mad at you for being an adult and a parent, then they can choose not to spend time with you because you want to have a loving holiday and not one filled with anger because they didn't get thier way.

There is no reason for people to be mad - the holiday season lasts from Christmas and/or Hanukkah through to New Years - that's plenty of time. And Thanksgiving is a 4 DAY WEEKEND. It's not the DAY, it's the time spent together.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would put YOUR household first. You know that someone will not be happy, so you put you, your DH and the kids first. Then you figure out whose plans fit with that paradigm. When my stepkids were younger, we had to figure out our Christmas with them, their Christmas with their mom, my Christmas with my family and our Christmas with the ILs. Fun. But it worked out. Not every year was smooth, but one thing we do with the ILs is we pick a date between about December 22 and NYE and we have lunch and presents and fun together, just the subset of us with my SIL and her kids an MIL and FIL. That takes the problem of where to eat Christmas dinner off the table, so we can go to NJ to see my aunt and my side of the family.

I would talk to each set and say that since science has yet to develop time travel or a teleporter, you would like to spread the festivities out so that you get to relax with each set of parents and ENJOY your holiday vs being upset by the schedule. If they can't put on their big grandparent panties and deal with it, then they don't get a vote. When kids grow up and have kids, things change.

What we also do is have Thanksgiving with my ILs, so that Christmas Day dinner with my family is more "even". My sister does Thanksgiving with his side, too. My aunt has her current in-laws, her late husband's in-laws, several grown and married kids with grandbabies and her own family, nieces, etc. She makes it work and we understand when she can't be at an event. And sometimes seeing her means I go to her home on her schedule.

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answers from Chicago on

Can you host and invite them all to your home?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I told Hubby this year we were staying home for Thanksgiving. If anyone wanted to come, they were invited. So, I have the inlaws coming over for dinner and my dad later that evening for the weekend. I am totally ok with this arrangement. I just didn't want to spend it in the car. Our son is coming home from college and I knew he didn't want to spend it away from his friends at home and I wanted some of his time as well.

Decide what works for YOU as a family then decide about the rest of them. Good luck! Sometimes, I miss living away from family =)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I am having my 4th annual Christmas Eve at my home! I send out an email in the beginning of November
"Hello everyone! It is that time of the year again, it came too fast! I know everyone is making their plans for the holidays, so just wanted to remind everyone we will be hosting our 4th annual Christmas Eve dinner! So as you are making your plans please keep us in mind as an option! Hope to see everyone!"
Even doing this SOMEONE has something to say, like this year was suppose to be with the XYZ side, why did I need an invitation??? blah blah blah, we used to have a rotation schedule based on when my sisterinlaws would come home from out of state, well they were not able to keep the schedule for finacial reasons and what not, and things always got messed up anyways so one year we had it here with both sides and it was awesome and so much easier on us, so I asked my hubby (who is so easy going) if we could just do it here every year and whoever could make it could and whoever couldnt well at least they knew they were welcome, plus I think it is time for us to take over all the work from our parents, they need a break, time to just enjoy there children and grandchildren. Just remember what ever you do NO ONE will ever be happy so just make sure your little family is happy! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Here's the thing. You are letting their "sh*t" become your "sh*t." This is not your problem; it is the problem of those who have divorced and are not adult enough to get over it.

I would not play the middle. I would invite them all; tell them everyone is invited and they can choose to come or not. Not your problem - theirs.

Also, let them know that if anything gets started, both of the involved parties will be quietly asked to leave and then do it. And if they have to be asked to leave this year, there will not be an invitation next year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It would help to know what the planned schedule is. How close in distance are you to the 3 houses?

My parents, inlaws, and us all live in the same neighborhood. Literally 2 streets apart. We tried doing the 'all houses' on Christmas thing, and that just didn't work for us. Each family has their own traditions, characters, meals, etc. We would always feel rushed, felt one side would feel wronged because they only saw us for 3 hours and the other side got us for 4 hours. We'd be stuffed by the end of the night, not get home til 10p+ and we never left the neighborhood!

What has worked well for us the past few years was to have dinner and presents with my family on Christmas Eve. Our house with just our kids on Christmas morning, and my inlaws on Christmas afternoon. This did not go well the first 2 years as there were hurt feelings. The inlaws tradition was that everyone spend the night on Christmas Eve. Which I understand the tradition so that they could be with all of their kids on Christmas morning, we used to do this with MY Grandparents, but my own bed was literally across the street, waiting! As more siblings had kids and wanted to have their own Christmas morning with their kids its become more accepted so that we aren't the trouble makers anymore. ;)

Since Christmas is on a Tues. this year, this is what I would do. Create a Christmas weekend.

7pm Friday night - Sat. afternoon - have your kids spend the night at your Dad's house. Open gifts Sat. morning. Do lunch.

7pm Saturday night - Sun. morning - have your kids spend the night at your Mom's house . Sun. morning, go to church if that's your tradition, have a nice Sunday lunch/dinner. Open gifts

7pm Sunday night - Monday morning - have your kids spend the night at your inlaws house. Open gifts Monday morning (Christmas Eve). Have the kids spend the day while you finish up stuff at your house.

Christmas Eve - you and your family eat dinner at home, do your family traditions.

Christmas morning - enjoy your family!

This way every Grandparent gets the same amount of time with your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Surely adults can put aside petty differences for grand kids and a holiday?
Of you can't split the time, invite everyone.
Them they call have the choice of being grown ups or acting like children and, as a consequence, missing out.
I won't cater to "who avoids who" or "who won't be in the same room together" at ALL. (I run into this more on in law side) but my logic is if I'm hosting a dinner, party, event, etc., you can come and behave like a grown up or stay home--your choice. We'll miss you but we understand.
Now of its a matter of GETTING around to everyone else's gatherings--all you can do is all you can do!
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I think it's time for you parents to grow up. They need to stop using you as a pawn in their divorce. Their marriage did not work and they are using their dislike for each other against you.
Simply put a top to it. Go each of them and tell them it no longer matters if they can't get along and you will not put up with the emotional blackmail. Tell them you will have a dinner at your home to celebrate the holidays and they are invited and they need to be civil to each other while they are in your home. They share children and grandchildren and as a family they need to put their differences aside and love everybody.
If they refuse then tell them you will see them during the holidays but at your convience, not theirs. It would be better for you and your children to hae leftover turkey sandwiches at their home and spend some time happily with them to have to run to each persons home eatting 2 or 3 dinners each and every holiday.



answers from San Diego on

Spending Thanksgiving with friends and hoping to go away over Christmas. DH and I are redefining boundaries with families. My guilt is quickly diminishing into relief. This change sure beats the tortuous exhaustion we have allowed ourselves to get guilted into year after year.



answers from Kalamazoo on

Just alternate years. For example, this year your mom for thanksgiving, his parents for christmas, next year your dad for thanksgiving, your mom for Christmas, next year inlaws for thanksgiving and your mom for Christmas. Decide on a rotation and stick with it. If everyone wants to see the kids for Christmas, they can pick another day that week to come over to your house and give the kids their Christmas presents. We do xmas eve with other family and Christmas day only for us and the kids, so we actually get to enjoy a holiday.

Last year I was due to have my son on Dec 27, my MIL still thru a fit that we didnt make plans with her for Christmas... And it wasnt even her year to begin with. People only care about themselves. If it really gets to much, you could take the kids to Disney for Christmas, or really anywhere if Disney is too pricey, and then not have to deal with anyone. You have the right to enjoy the holidays too.



answers from Houston on

What is it that you and your husband fight about?

I dont' mean to oversimplify this, but just decide on a schedule (every other year, different days, time of day) and stick with it. Don't let their plans affect yours.


answers from Norfolk on

If you can't please everyone (or anyone), then please yourself.
Approach it sideways this year and take a trip away from all of them.
Have the holiday YOU'VE always wanted.
Everyone else can do as they please but they can do it without you.
Sometimes just stay home and tell them all you're enjoying some privacy from the hubbub this year.
Do visiting every other year or work out some sort of relaxed schedule - but sometimes you are going to take the holidays back and make them your own and you are not going to ask for their permission or approval.

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