Yikes..The Holidays Again

Updated on November 15, 2007
J.L. asks from Hoffman Estates, IL
16 answers

Hi Moms!
It is that time a year again when we are facing the dreaded who hosts Thanksgiving and Christmas etc....Well, my husband and I have different expectations. His parents are deceased but he has a lot of family in the area. My parents live a few hours a way. One of the things is that since I am from a smaller family I will never exclude celebrating the major holidays with my parents. My husband thinks that it is ok that we alternate for Thanksgiving between his family one year and then mine next. The problem is that we did not establish this agreement from the beginning when we got married.

We have always included my parents...What is worse is now we have 2 children and expectations are high. For the kids to not to see their grandparents would be catastrophic. The reason I say that is the relationship between my parents and husband is rather strained. My parents are always having to come to our house for visits or we meet half way. When I say always...I mean it. The kids have never stayed over at their grandparents because my husband doesn't feel comfortable being that far away from them. Well he hasn't made any efforts to try to overcome this. With the fact that there is a brand new grandchild, I am afraid to "rock the apple cart" and tell my parents we won't be seeing them. Based on how things are, I won't have that conversation. Like my hubby my parents are resistent to change and I am caught in the middle..I want to satisfy both sides. We started splitting Christmas time last year which my parents had a hard time dealing with but I sided with my husband because we do need to set our own traditions. My parents dealt with it.

Last year we went to my parents for Thanksgiving and then split Christmas with his family and mine. Mind you my Mom's birthday is also Christmas Eve. Do you think it is wrong for me to request we do this same arangement again this year and then start preparing my parents that things will be different for next year considering the tension and a new grandchild?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for venting and sharing your situations and solutions you've created for your families.

My husband and I had intense negotiations this last weekend and the best solution is to rotate the Thanksgiving Holiday. We are headed to my parents again this year. Next year with his family etc.. and then the following year back to my parents.

I had that difficult converstaion with Mom and it went better than expected at least for now. I think our conversation went better than planned because they have a year to prepare for the change vs. a month. She was happy that we are with them again this year. Her biggest concern was Christmas believe it or not...Anyway we started splitting Christmas time last year. Ah the Holidays. Good luck to all of you as it really is stressful!

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

Jennifer, I know how you feel the holidays are crazy once you have children. My in laws only live 45 min. away but usually only see the kids on holidays. I just wanted to tell you my personal experience and this may or may not be an issue for your husband but for me it is. My father was killed 2 yrs ago and when we are around his parents it drives me crazy that my children are with them and can't be with my Dad. I know it sounds a little crazy and he might not feel that way at all but maybe you can talk to him about it. Hopefully you can find a way to ease the tension. Life goes to fast, good luck.



answers from Chicago on

It sure is a shame that the Holidays can't be stress-free. My parents were divorced and remarried, then I got married and we had to split the holidays four ways. My Dad's family, my Mom's family, my stepdad's family, AND my husband's family. And of course, eveyone wanted to have their holiday party Christmas Eve at 3pm and no one lives in close proximity. And then you have all the presents to buy and potluck dishes to prepare! I love the holidays but these things can really suck the joy out of it! Which kind of explains why I'm becoming more and more fond of Halloween which is more about fun and less about family obligations. Meanwhile, I'm trying to show my son the true meaning of Christmas. You'll never be able to make everyone happy so do what is best for your immediate family and your kids. Create some of your own family traditions. My cousin has an even more complicated situation caused by multiple divorces and remarriages and she has a Holiday party one week before Christmas, and juggles the other parties each year. When you think about it, it doesn't really matter if the party is not on the exact day of your Holiday. The idea is celebrating the holiday season and spending time with family. This isn't exactly an ideal solution as you would have to throw a party yourself every year but maybe this could work for you. I sure hope that you find a solution to this and are able to have Happy Holidays.



answers from Chicago on

I know this doesn't work for everyone, but my side of the family (and all three of us kids are married) has agreed that we do Christmas on Dec 27 or 28 - basically our philosophy is that "Christmas is when everyone is together". We generally spend from Dec 27 - New Years (or thereabouts) with my parents. That frees us all up to be at our respective in-laws homes for "official" Christmas and the days preceding it.

We've done this for the past 5 years and it works really well. Maybe everyone on one side of the family (husbands or yours) could come to a similar agreement?


answers from Ocala on

Hello Jennifer,

I have an idea for you and I hope that this helps.

How about you guys go up to your parents house the day before Thanksgiving and celebrate Thanksgiving a day early.

Drive Back home that night and spend Thanksgiving with his family the next day ON Thanksgiving.

Because your mothers Birthday is the day before Christmas that is a great way to be with them and again Celebrate Christmas a day early and then have her Birthday in the evening.

Drive Back home that night and spend Christmas with his family the next day ON Christmas.

Then next year you can do this with his family “CELEBRATE A DAY EARLY”
and Celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with your parents.
And rotate that schedule.

That way both families can see you guys and “that might make everyone happy.”
They need to understand that you both come from two different families and that “it is not fare to only see one family when you guys only live hours apart.”


Try not stress yourself out with this.

It is very important to remember that you all are VERY BLESSED to have each other and lots of family that want to spend time with you ALL. There are alot of people that have NO ONE to spend the holidays with.

Thank the LORD for all that you have and have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving and a GREAT Christmas and a BLESSED New Year.

I hope that some of this helped you.

From one mother to another.



answers from Chicago on

When you all got together it was to create your own family and traditions - such things take time and you might as well start now. Its hard to let moms and dads know that things are changing, but your priority needs to be your husband and your kids and his needs to be you and the kids. You just had a baby - play that card on all of them and then make the change stick! (my in-laws have come to see us 3 times in 7 years... we go see them about every 2 months... they are perfectly capable of traveling... this year they will see us the weekend before Christmas...my MIL always says, "I sure wish we saw these kids more often"... it used to bug me... now I just ignore it or sweetly remind her that traveling 8 hours in a car with a 1 and 3 year old SUCKS.)



answers from Chicago on

My husband and I both have very small families and mine lives in Florida so it's a lot easier on us then most families but we decided a long time agao that Christmas Day is our family day. We started this before we even had kids. My husband and I and the kids all stay in our jammies (Mom enjoys a couple Mimosa's!) and open gifts and have a fun low key day just for the 4 of us and no one comes over and we don't leave the house except Christmas night with hot cocoa and drive around to look at the lights on people's houses in local neighborhoods. His mother gets us for Christmas Eve and we invite his family over for Thanksgiving but Christmas Day is OURS. I see no reason to drag my kids out of the house when all they want to do is play with their new toys and hang out with Mom and Dad. It's a nice tradition for us and the family has finally accepted it. My poor parents get jipped because my husband nor my father can travel during the Christmas season because of work. Sometimes we get to travel there for Thanksgiving.

Good luck. I have to say the Holiday shuffle is the only good thing about having a small family that's spread out from here to Florida to Texas!



answers from Chicago on

I think this is a more common feeling or problem then we think! I am also in a struggle between my husbands family and mine. I come from a small family (I only have two sisters) and my husnabd has 7 brothers and sisters. Well, we are the only ones who don't live near our family. Soooo, it is very important to me that my kids have a good relationship and know their relatives. That being said my husbands family all "say" they are close, but he probably talks to his parent 10 times a year and sees them probably 3 times a year. His brothers and sisters sometimes are only seen once and never call just to catch up. On my side, I talk to my parents almost daily and e-mail my sisters daily. My family knows how important it is that i see them so they come out to visit us often... his family never comes and then complains that they never see us. If they want to see us we have to travel the 7 hours to go see them. Anyways, I have made it clear that on holidays I will be with my family. He knew this from the begining. And he now complains about it. We will spend a day or two of the hoilday break with his family but I am with my family for the holiday. The other big thing is that his family complains about never seeing us but when we do go visit, they do not play or interact with kids, they are usually very loud with smoking and drinking. I don't really find that a fun time for my kids and I. I usually am the one feeding and putting them to bed by myself away from the family anyways. So to me it's a waste of time. I try to talk my husband into just going by himself (since he's the one they want to see) and then just come meet us at my parents house.
It gets very hard with little ones and living over 7 hours away from home. My hope is that when my kids are a little older (and we're living closer to home) we can also make our own traditions and have our own Chrsitmas morning at our house with just us 4. Then I can really say to everyone if you want to see us, come on over we'll be at home all day!:)
I hate to be mean about the wanting to spend time with my family but I feel like I have made sacrifices for my husbands job so we don't live close, that I should be able to see them around the holidays!
This doesn't help at all, but I just want you to know you are not alone. And it was really good to vent before the up coming holiday season!



answers from Chicago on

I think there are many families that go through the stress of Holidays. We used to do the switch of Thanksgiving and Christmas eve with one side and the easter and Christmas day with the other side. Then the year after we would switch it around. This seemed to work out well for a while untill both of my parents died. Dad in 2000 and Mom in 2005 both way to young-58. Anyways-now my husband seems to think we will do all holidays with his parents. Crazy I am not driving 4 hours to do christmas eve at their house and come home then next morning to do christmas at our house. Yes I too get a little pissy that my parents are not around to see my little guy. I try not to take it out on them but sometimes it is very hard.
All I have to say is good luck trying to figure it out and yes life is too short-you do need to start our own traditions too-I try to stress that also to my husband as I think that they should be at home for Christmas morning to see what Santa brings. Just my thoughts! Good Luck!



answers from Chicago on

I'll just say that you aren't alone in this problem. We don't live near either of our families, so every get-together requires someone to drive a long way. Both our moms have expectations, plus I'm an only child so if I'm not with her she is alone at the holidays . . . it can get really complicated, with lots of potential for hurt feelings.

We've been married 10 years now and it is a lot better than it once was, as far as keeping peace with the families is concerned. We do a lot more driving than I would like to be doing, especially at the holidays which are already so busy. And we would really, really love to have Christmas in our own home again someday not crammed into my mom's tiny house and guest room. But the kids love their grandmas and cousins, so we grin through the exhaustion and crowding. It definitely takes it out of a person, though. You have my sympathy and best wishes for a solution!



answers from Chicago on

hi. i really don't have any advise for you but i DO sympathize. my hubby's parents moved to west virginia and want all of their kids to go there for both holidays.that is a 12 hour drive with 2 kids. no fun there!!! when his parents lived here we went there 3 times over christmas eve and christmas. my family was always cut short. this will always be a battle in my house because my hubby, like yours, wants to alternate holiday. i say if it wasn't good enough to do it while everyone was semi-local than it not good enough now. keep me posted if you figure out a solution. i need help too. good luck



answers from Washington DC on

I just saw your post and I have a suggestion. Since you mentioned that you have a small family, would it be possible (if they get along) for your parents to drive down and spend the holiday with you and your husband's family the year that you guys don't drive to see them? Maybe your parents would be willing to and you get the joy of seeing each other every year! Hope it all works out for the best!



answers from Chicago on

We have the same problem. DH's family has always had this Christmas Eve tradition and my parents live 2 hours away. So what we've comprimised is that every other year we stay up here and do the Christmas Eve thing and then every other year we go downstate to see my parents. And the years that we stay up here for Christmas Eve, we do thanksgiving with my parents.

It's a total pain and I start loathing the holiday season every year around now, but I have to do it to "keep the peace".



answers from Tampa on

My mother & little sister lives an hour north. My eldest sister lives 45 minutes south east. My other sister lives 30 mins south west. My boyfriend's family lives 5 mins away. I HATE driving!!! So everyone just comes to my home Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Then Christmas day we spend quietly at home. If you don't like to cook, you can also make it a pot luck so your only left with entrees (Which by the way, can be purchased at the Honey Baked Ham Co.- full sized turkeys and ham). Good luck and don't get overly stressed. The hoidays are suppossed to be n enjoyable time!



answers from Chicago on


Oh I hear you loud and clear! The Holidays have become SO stressful since having kids. I understand that everyone wants to see the kids, but we can only be in one place at a time.

I think that there needs to be some compromise on both sides. I can only tell you what my family has done. My mom is single and the four of us kids come from three different Dads over a 20 year time frame. My sister and I don't see our Dad (in AZ), but are both married and have to spend time with the inlaws, too. My brother is 24 and engaged to be married this December so he needs to see his Dad and his inlaws. My youngest sister is only 15 and lives with my mom but needs to see her Dad, too. Phew, if you are still with me...read on. ;)

SO, a couple of years ago, my mom started a tradtion where she steals the "Eve" of every holiday. It's very important to her to have her 4 kids together to celebrate, so she was willing to give up the actual Holiday to see us. Easter, Mothers Day, T-giving and Xmas we all get together the night before or the Saturday after the Holiday. We cook as if it's the Holiday, presents are opened as if it's the Holiday and so on. It has worked out great.

Here's where OUR issue lies...As I said, I don't see my Dad so I only have to worry about seeing my mom. My husband's parents are married so we are expected to spend Christmas Eve with his Mom's side and Christmas DAY with his Dad's side. Well, my Mom has already given up every other Holiday so she wants us there on Christmas Eve, it's the most important to her and feelings get hurt if someone doesn't make it. In the past, we would go part of the afternoon to my MIL's side and then end up at my mom's for the night and sleep over. Well, with kids, by the time we get to my mom's it's bedtime for the 2 year old.

This year, we have a new baby and he'll be about 4 months at Christmas. I made it clear when I was pregnant that there is no way I'm dragging kids around on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is for my mom, it's that simple. AND, this year, I'm hosting it at our house. It will be easier at bedtime for the boys and that way we can't think about splitting the night between families. My husband totally understood...but he hasn't said anything to his Mom yet. It will be fun when that happens!

So, since you have a small family on your side, maybe you can host Christmas Eve (it's your Mom's bday anyway) and invite his side, too. Would that be too hard?

Doesn't it suck when the Holiday Stress starts this early on? Lol!



answers from Chicago on

It sounds like the holidays are more stressful then fun for you. Could your parents come to your house and go with you to your husband's family party? I think you and your husband need to decide what you will do and then let everyone know. Grandparents are important. I think it's a little selfish of you husband to keep your parents from them. It seems like you have some things to work out.



answers from San Francisco on

Boy, when I read your problem I really could relate. When our first son was born we told both sets of parents that if they wanted to see their grandson, they would have to travel to see him. Christmas is about and for the kids, so it is no fun for the kids to get carted around and for the parents to stress out about packing everything up just so the grandparents could see them. At the time we lived 2 hours away from my parents and 1 1/2 hours away from my in-laws. On Christmas eve we spent at home, which was hard for me (that's when my family celebrates), but we wanted our kids to wake up in their own bed and go to sleep in their own bed on Christmas eve. We now celebrate Christmas with my husbands family the day after Christmas, it's fun for the cousins because they can compare what they got from Santa. Our parents DO NOT get along, so we are forced to split it and it seems to work out. This year we live around the corner from my parents so we will be with my family on Christmas Eve and with his on the 23rd.

In previous years when our families got along, we spent Thanksgiving together, but now we split one year with his family and one year with mine. I decided to host this year so we wouldn't have to travel to his family and spend the whole weekend. Make dinner in exchange for my sanity and weekend, I think it was a pretty good trade off.

I know how difficult the conversation can be with your mom, I've been there. I just had to lay down the ground rules with my mom and let her know that while the kids were small we were staying put at our house for Christmas. It's hard, but you gotta do what's right for your family and kids.

Sorry for the long response, I just can relate so much to what you are going through and felt like venting.

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