How do you handle major holidays as a couple?

posted 2 years ago in Relationships
Post # 17
429 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2017 - Canvas Event Space

Similar situation in that both of our families live about an hour and change away in opposite directions.

We have dinner on Christmas Eve at my Mom’s and stay overnight for Christmas morning and breakfast. We leave in the early afternoon and head to his Mom’s for Christmas dinner and stay overnight for breakfast/lunch on Boxing Day (the 26th) and for a few years even stayed that night, too.

Honestly, I hate it. Obviously, I want us both to see our families on the holidays but we’re the only ones who have to do any travelling and not get to sleep in our own bed for multiple days while everyone else still gets to be in the comfort of their own homes.

In theory, this is the last year as we’re hoping to have our own home next year where we can host our own Christmas Eve dinner and have everyone over together and start our own Christmas traditions.

Post # 18
7852 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I know we are lucky not to have to deal with balancing our families at the holidays, I acknowledged that in my post. (It is literally the only easy thing about being in an interfaith marriage with devout-ish parents on both sides… but that’s another story lol). But as the child of parents who did have to navigate a tricky holiday situation I thought my perspective still might help, since you are pregnant and thinking about how your own kids will experience the holidays. Growing up there were 2 sets of grandparents to accommodate , not 3, but they lived an 8 hr and 12 hr drive away from us (in opposite directions) and both had expectations of seeing us at the holidays so I know it wasn’t the easiest for my parents. It wasn’t realistic for my aging grandparents to come to us every year, so while my parents probably would have preferred staying at home for Christmas we were often on the road cause family time was a bigger priority than having Christmas day at our house. I just thought if being more flexible on xmas day was an option for you guys it might make things easier with the balancing act… but of course only you and your husband can decide what you’re comfortable with. I hope you find a solution that works for everyone bee. 

Post # 22
267 posts
Helper bee

Darling Husband and I are in a very similar situation with out families geographically. After a Christmas a few years ago that made me go crazy with planning logistics and timing, I realized that I didn’t care to be at most of this families’ events and I’m sure I wouldn’t be missed either. I told him that it is totally okay for him to go to whatever Christmas events he wants to go to, but I will not be going to the ones that clash with my families’ Christmas plans. I guess I just don’t get the idea that we need to go everywhere together just because we’re coupled up. 


I admit I am selfish when it comes to holidays. My only familiy is my mom and sister and we adore the holidays. I am spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my mom and sister now and forever. We do a Christmas dinner and gift exchange with DH’s family during some December weekend and we have a lovely time. But if me, mom, or sister were absent from Christmas stuff, it would completely change the dynamic of the whole holiday, but we never demand that SO’s be present and, although I would never admit it, we have more fun without them.

Post # 23
7852 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

zpkj :  that makes sense… stand your ground then! The driving around to have 3 separate Christmases in a 48 hr period does sound heinous. At least when I was growing up it was a strict either or situation. 

Post # 24
1103 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

You both need to figure out what works best for the two of you. You are a nuclear family with your husband now. Grandparents will deal. And if they don’t, then they need to learn how to deal or else it will put you and your Darling Husband against each other. And that will get really messy.

Post # 25
3210 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

We’re somewhat similar. My parents are divorced and each live about 40 min from us. His parents are together and live 5-6 hours away. I’m much closer to my mom and would prefer to spend every holiday with her (lol) but have learned to compromise. It complicates things because when my parents divorced we always had a switching years arrangement. So thanksgiving with dad, Christmas with mom and then vice versa the next year. However once I married my husband that obviously couldn’t work because we had a third rotation in the mix. 

Our first year together we stayed Christmas Eve at my mom’s, had Christmas morning there, went to my dads for late lunch, then drove 3 hours to meet his family Christmas night. It was the worst Christmas ever with all that traveling. Never again. 

My mom is very flexible, she’ll make thanksgiving dinner on a weekend so we can celebrate with her, but my dad and in laws are more inflexible. My in laws are also terrible planners so that makes everything even more difficult. 

I have no idea what we’re going to wind up doing for Christmas this year. For thanksgiving we’ve invited my in laws to my mom’s for dinner and plan to see my dads for morning appetizers. It’s also our first holiday season with our son so the grandparents are being competitive over spending time with him. 

One thing I absolutely agree on with you is Christmas at home with kids! Idk if we’ll start that this year or next, but as a kid we never traveled for Christmas! Santa came to our house and we hung out at home. Grandparents will be welcome to come visit us and we may still do Christmas Eve with one of my parents, but we will not be traveling over the holidays. 

Post # 27
1152 posts
Bumble bee

I agree with PPs who brought up rotating. It’s tricker with three sets of parents but I hope you’ll figure it out and keep us posted. I understand the guilt trips are terrible but the easiest way to please no one is to try to please everyone! Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t let others bully you either. Just try to be as fair as possible with your entire family. 

Post # 28
2183 posts
Buzzing bee

zpkj :  So my family sounds like your DH’s family dynamic and my Darling Husband like yours except we’re 6 hour drives away rather than 1. It’s far more important to Darling Husband to spend holidays at his parents house than it is for me to spend them at my parent’s house. However, our parents feel equally strongly about us visiting them on the actual holidays. When we were dating, Darling Husband never came home for holidays to my family, but I’d usually do either Thanksgiving or Christmas with his family. I learned when we got married that our joint decision to do things that way really hurt my mom.

Since we’ve been married, we’re very particular about alternating holidays: Thanksgiving with one, Christmas with the other, switching every year. We’re also pregnant, but plan to keep this pattern up until we have 2 kids, and then we’ll probably start hosting Christmas at our house and just alternate Thanksgiving.

I think in your situation, it matters not just what you guys want to do, but the impact on his family. He may not find it all that important to be there on Christmas or the day after, but I’m guessing his parents do. If you’re deadset on Christmas Eve with your family, I think you need to make either Christmas Day or the day after a priority with his. And maybe you can alternate Thanksgivings? 

Post # 30
1281 posts
Bumble bee

in our family the (no kids) couples just split for christmas. everyone enjoys time with own childhood family more than with the in laws. works for all. no need to travel also it’s so nice to spend time with siblings and sleep over at mum and dad’s. my brother has kids and they stay at home  and come around for boxing day or lately they have divided every other year at in laws and every other year with our family. and then visit boxing day the other family.

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