(Closed) How do you split time with families on holidays?

posted 5 years ago in Holidays
Post # 16
2403 posts
Buzzing bee

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freckles071611:  I agree.

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ksklemenz96:  OP, no problem for the confusion, and I don’t want to come across as bitchy either, but if your family lives 20-30 minutes away, why do you only see them three times a year? Can you see them more often, and then split holidays (Thanksgiving with Mother-In-Law, Christmas with your parents, New Years with your Mother-In-Law, Easter with your parents)? 

I also like your suggestion of splitting up the day itself. Your Mother-In-Law needs to get on board with that pronto.


It sounds like both you and your Mother-In-Law are going to need to compromise a bit.


Post # 17
85 posts
Worker bee

which holidays are you referring to that cause the most problems? I am not sure of your religion, but the majority of holidays have two parts to them. Ex: Christmas Eve/Christmas day; Palm Sunday/Easter– Thanksgiving is solo though. Did you mean, when you said that your family lives 20 mins away, that there would be additional relatives from farther away visiting/staying with your family? If that’s the case, as some suggested, maybe try inviting your future mother-in-law– might as well, she will definitely be seeing more of your family in the future. If she is insistent on having her own holiday, which is understandable considering she has a very small party to host, maybe try to find a way to split up the day. If it’s Easter (just estimating the time of year), maybe do Palm Sunday, if your families do that, with your fiance’s family and Easter with yours? Since you are so close, could you stop by your fiance’s mom’s party at the start, go to your family’s thing, and then your fiance joins you later in the evening with your family to say hi after spending time with his family? Or, to feel more involved, you could offer to help his mom cook and prep for her day (or do this for your family), regardless of where you spend a few more minutes?

Post # 18
927 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception / Courtyard Marriott Legacy Ballroom

We actually have to split holidays 3 ways – my family, FIL’s family and Mother-In-Law – due to DH’s parents being divorced. Father-In-Law and my family live within 20-30 mins of us, but Mother-In-Law lives over an hour away. We usually make plans with my family and Father-In-Law (including DH’s uncle and grandma + one or both of his brother’s) first because Mother-In-Law can’t tell us until the last minute when she’ll be in town (she works 2 jobs + does seasonal work, so she doesn’t have a set schedule). Unfortunately, that means she sometimes misses out on seeing DH and I because DH sometimes works on holidays and we end up only being able to fit in Father-In-Law while I go to my family’s gathering by myself. I’m thinking this year, since we’ll have a baby (due in 12 days!), I might suggest my Mom hosts Christmas or Thanksgiving, and we invite Mother-In-Law and BILs to that gathering. This past year, we were only able to fit in a very quick lunch with Mother-In-Law the day after Christmas, and she was really disappointed we couldn’t spend more time with her – I imagine when we have DS (her first grandson!), she’ll be even more adamant about spending time with us! But it all depends on who hosts what in my family – we sometimes join with my SIL’s family for holidays, too, and I don’t think I’d feel comfortable asking them to invite my Mother-In-Law to their family gathering.

Post # 19
200 posts
Helper bee

I’m assuming you mean your extended family travels in and you only get to see them 3x a year?

My BF and I split up for holidays and go visit our own families, because we live halfway in between (4 hours to his and 5 hours to mine) BUT we have no kids, so there’s no grandparent issues.

Previously, ex and I went to both MIL/SFIL and FIL/SMIL and my mom’s family and my dad’s family – so four Christmases – on Day/Eve. All about 40 minutes apart. It’s not hard, so I would absolutely split time. If your family is traveling into town, can they make alternative plans the day before/after the holiday for Thanksgiving/Easter?

Post # 20
1210 posts
Bumble bee

We live within 30 minutes of my family (large extended family) and see them all the time. DH’s parents live 5 hours away, and we see them less often. My large extended family celebrates holidays together (30 people), and with DH’s family, it generally is a group of <10 people. 

We try to keep things fair and alternate every year. It doesn’t always work out but generally everyone has been understanding. We do not have kids, and I imagine that will complicate things when we do.

Post # 21
4943 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

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ksklemenz96:  That’s crazy – she can’t expect you to do that.

Look, when you get married, you begin your “own” family. It’s not like when you’re a single college student and it’s easy to go home on every holiday break and spend the entire time with your family. My husband and I sometimes alternate years ie. last Christmas with mine, this Christmas with his. Sometimes we don’t even do that – I don’t always want to have to (or be expected) to travel. There’s been a few occasions where we stayed home alone – and it was wonderful! So really, now we just do what we feel like doing that year. And our families don’t get upset – they know that we are busy and travel gets out of hand.  

Post # 22
9204 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

Holidays are one of the MAJOR selling points of inter-faith marriages. My Mother-In-Law wasn’t 100% sure how she felt about her Jewish son marrying a Catholic girl until I pointed out that we will only ever celebrate Jewish holidays at her house (where if he married a Jewish girl we’d have to alternate) and she got on board hahaha. Thanksgiving is the only thing we overlap on and we just celebrate it with both sets of parents since my cousins all celebrate with their husbands’ families anyways and we see them a few weeks later at Christmas.

Post # 23
969 posts
Busy bee

Figuring out what to do for the holidays can be hard, especially for newlyweds.  It’s the combining of two households/lives/traditions/preferences, and somebody is probably gonna get the short end of the stick – if they choose to look at it that way.

For my husband and I, my family is more religious than his (my Dad is a retired pastor/current hospital chaplain/director of pastoral care), so we spend the actual religious holidays with my family.  So, for instance, we’ll do Christmas Eve/Day with my family, but celebrate Christmas again either before or after the actual holiday with his family.  We also have our own private Christmas celebration with our “just us” presents and our own decorated Christmas tree and stockings.  We think it’s important to have family traditions and “just us” traditions as well (see Thanksgiving at the end of this paragraph).  For Easter, we visit my family (or, in this year’s case, they’re coming down to visit us) and usually invite his family to join us (though, this has only happened once in our entire 7 year relationshiop).  It’s fun grilling out, playing yard games, etc with both sides.  As for secular holidays like Thanksgiving?  Well, my husband and I have a tradition of our own and we spend Thanksgiving just the two of us.  It’s really relaxing and something we both look forward to greatly.

The only time this arrangement for holidays has ever caused any problems is with my MIL/SIL this past Thanksgiving.  They don’t like that we want to spend Thanksgiving just the two of us.  They think we are snubbing them somehow (and it’s my fault, of course ::rolls eyes::).  But the thing is, my husband works his ass off between October and February due to his line of work and sometimes he just can’t handle working 6-7 days a week and then trekking a couple hours (or more) to visit family for a holiday.  It’s emotionally and physically draining on him and he deserves the rest when he can get it.  His family refuses to understand and sees it as a jab at them.  We’ve tried to explain it several times, but they just won’t listen.

Someday, we’d love to have our families come to us for holidays – maybe not always, but at least a few times.  As of right now, we live in a dinky one bedroom apartment, so that’s not as feasible.  But when we get a bigger place, we’d really like to open up the idea to them and see what they think.  I’m sure my parents (and brother who lives a few states away) would definitely be on board, they’re cool like that.  But, my MIL/SIL would be stubborn about it, I’m sure … they’ve only visited us once in the past year or so.

::sigh::  Oh, well!

Hope our traditions/examples help.  No matter what you do, do it in love and stand firm in your decision.  Once certain MILs get you to bend to their will once, they’ll continue to expect that same pattern to repeat itself for the rest of your marriage, and it can be hard to gain footing again.  You two will be a unit of one soon and you’ll be your own family.  Things change and new traditions have to start.  It can be a wonderful thing if everyone plays fair.  🙂

Post # 24
728 posts
Busy bee

I understand what you’re going through!!! We usually spend half the day at one place & half the day at another. It kind of sucks because you feel like you’re always rushing. Our families live in the same town so distance isn’t really a problem. A few years ago my immediate family went to FL for Christmas where my brother and her baby daughter live along with other family. None of us had seen the baby yet. I told my Fiance flat out I’m going to see my new niece. It wasn’t about going over Christmas it was just when everyone could get off of work/school together. He ended up going with us but obviously wasn’t too happy about missing Christmas with his family ( I didn’t make him go or anything but he had never met that side of the family before so he did want to go just not over Christmas). 

Post # 25
316 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: garden/backyard - July 9, 2016

We spent years with this arguement – Mother-In-Law lived 2 driveways away and my mother lives across the highway so only just slightly further away.  We would literally get up Christmas morning, do Christmas at our house, go for breakfast at one grandparents house, go to Great Grampas (less than 5 minutes away) then dinner at the other grandparents house, and sometimes we would go to the extended family’s party when it was held in town.  We would switch every year who got breakfast and who got dinner.  It sucked.  Big time.  So finally SO put his foot down and told everyone that if they want to see us, they know where we live lol. We switched Great Grampa’s time to boxing day and never looked back.  This applies to all holidays.  It is so much more relaxing to just stay home.  Good luck!

Post # 26
268 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2019

Our parents live about 300 miles away from each other so we usually just alternate between them. Luckily, my mom grew up near where his parents live (same metropolitan area) and most of her family still lives in the area. When my parents are visiting my aunts and uncles for the holidays we usually just split the day (AM with my fam and PM with his)

Post # 27
553 posts
Busy bee

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ksklemenz96:  Your Mother-In-Law is being unreasonable.  You have to split the holidays.  Usually people who live locally enough to both end up spending part of the day with one family and part of the day with the other.  Some people alternate holidays.  But your Mother-In-Law should not be asking you to blow off your family, especially if you see them even more often, then I don’t get what her problem is.

Post # 28
5152 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

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ksklemenz96:  Christmas is really the only holiday our families care about and its gotten to the point where it’s just not fun for us. 

My family lives close by and DHs lives 7 hours away. They end up coming to our area for Christmss since DH and his siblings and their families all live here. 

We split time evenly but someone (aka MIL) always gets mad. She wants us to spend every second with her and that’s not possible. We invite everyone to my family’s home for a big Christmas dinner but his family refuses. 

We end up traveling around all day. I said that next year were going on vacation and then no one (aka MIL) can give us shit. 

Post # 29
3434 posts
Sugar bee

Sorry, but I don’t think it is fair to see one side of the family on all of the big holidays. I have older siblings who have been married for over a decade so my family has juggled Christmas with 3 and now 4 sets of in-laws. We always deferred to the in-laws and just got together on a weekend close to Christmas Day. My parents were always cool about it. And they are huge Catholics, lol. Now, we just say we will meet on even numbered years for Christmas. We all live in different parts of the country and it is such a pain and expensive to trek across the country at Christmas. We see each other at other times, too. Once you merge families, you have to be open to letting go of some your traditions to make room for new ones.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  SLOBee.
Post # 30
400 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2016 - Harn Homestead

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ksklemenz96:  We usually start at FI’s family they always eat super early then go to see my family. But this is usually hard to do, he tends to go home and see his family without me since I would in a restaurant and them my family drives down to see me and Fiance meets us for dinner.

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