Splitting up the holidays

posted 3 months ago in Holidays
Post # 16
847 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

Syerus :  I’m with you on the wanting to spend Christmas at home with your spouse. FI and I have been switching off holidays with our families for 3 years now (one year we will spend thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. The following year thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. My family usually does a separate get together to make sure we still have a Christmas, even if it is a few days later. Repeat).


Frankly – it’s exhausting, and rarely goes off without a tantrum from my FMIL. I’m ready to start my own traditions and just go on vacation somewhere :/.

Post # 17
433 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

The way I see it, this is something she is something non-negotiable to her. So you have very few options. You can:

(a) Spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with her and her dad.

(b) Spent Christmas Eve with her and her dad, then Christmas day with your parents/siblings (or viceversa).

(c) Spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with your parents/siblings.

I agree with PPs that marriage is all about compromises, but for your wife this seems to be an issue that she is unwilling to find a compromise for. Is this a dealbreaker for you? 

ETA: I haven’t spent my holiday’s away from my husband, but I sure did when we were boyfriend/girlfriend. To be honest, I think people make a huge deal out of not spending it with your spouse, but they forget there are many people in the world who are forced to do so -because of finances, work, distance, etc. The worste part, I think, would be having to answer to your family’s questions regarind why she isn’t with you and if everything is okay.

Post # 18
528 posts
Busy bee

My situation is a little similar to yours. Both DH and I live away from our hometown and we always go back for Christmas. My family (sister, parents and grand parents) spend the same amount of visits per year that DH’s family has over 5 years. Christmas has always been super difficult and as much as we tried to split up the day, the push back from his family has always been enormous. Last year, we split up for Christmas and spent most of the time apart. We spent 1.5 hours with my family and 1.5 hours with his together on the day otherwise we were completely alone with our families. It sucked opening gifts without him and it sucked for him that I wasn’t there for Christmas dinner. It was actually kind of sad. I spent the night at my family’s house the entire time and he stayed over a few nights but spent the majority at his family’s houses. The kicker was at the very end, his family made a comment about how he shouldn’t spend so much time with family because it’s his holiday as well. Needless to say we came home and DH decided that was the last straw and wouldn’t be going home for Christmas next year and he still hasn’t waivered. It’s hard when you have one side of the family that complains about not seeing you but makes little to no effort to change it. I feel for DH because deep down I know he wants his family to feel the need to visit as much as mine – or at least make the effort to call more. Other than hosting Christmas at your house and inviting everyone, I don’t have much advice. At this point it might be finding out how to cope rather than change.

Post # 19
8182 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

if it is just her dad, can’t your wife and FIL join your family for x-mas?


my side of the family who live nearby is my mom and sometimes my brother.  DH has a bigger family and both sides are in town.  neither of his parents are living. 

my mom has thanksgiving.  we always travel for thanksgiving and DH has joined us on these trips when we started dating.  if we have holidays at our house, we invite both sides, otherwise my mom is invited to whatever we do on DH’s side.  this works for us.

Post # 20
522 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

Sounds like the best compromise (since spending christmas with your wife is a must for you) is to spend it with her dad and then celebrate with your family before or after he leaves. Personally, I think the day is just a number. Celebrating with family is just as special whether it happens the 24th, 25th or 26th.

And as for spending christmas apart…We will spend a few hours together (breakfast and exchanging gifts) and then spend the time with our families. We normally don’t spend every hour of everyday together so never saw it as a big deal when it’s a holiday.

Post # 21
5184 posts
Bee Keeper

Syerus :  

I want to know why the dad can only visit once a year? If that’s the case I would definitely see if he could visit after Christmas every other year so that you can still get family time with your family on Christmas every other year.

Seeing as she sees your parents often I could see why she doesnt’ want to give up her days with him for your family whom she sees all hroughout the year.

Post # 22
216 posts
Helper bee

Thankfully, our families only live 20 min from each other, which makes this a lot easier. My family celebrates Christmas rarely on the actual day, instead having everyone get together on a Saturday or Sunday. This leaves the actual holiday free to spend with his family.

For Thanksgiving, my family has traditionally done a lunch celebration, making it very easy for us to drive over to his family’s house for dinner (and become even more stuffed!) However, our families are very understanding that we need to split time and have done their best to accommodate for our needs.

My cousin and her husband split it by every other year rotations. I’ll see them for Thanksgiving, but not Christmas this year, and vice versa next year. It does stink not seeing them as much, but it works.

Your situation is trickier, but I like the idea of spending the first half of the day with one family and the other half with the other one. I can understand why your FIL would be upset, but he’s only losing half a day and since it’s important to be with your family during the holiday, try to explain that to him. Or just invite him to come along! Or try to have your family celebrate the holiday not on the exact day. Those are my top three options for you.

Whatever you do, I do NOT recommend spending the holiday apart from your wife. That’s not what it’s about and will only make you more miserable by the sounds of it.

Best of luck!

Post # 23
3920 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

Syerus :  Whenever someone refuses to compromise, I always tend to find them to be in the wrong. In this case, I think that your wife is wrong for not actively searching for a compromise that works best with both families. Obviously, it stinks that her dad only comes in for four to five days at Christmastime, but that doesn’t mean your family gets the shaft every year. The best compromise that I can see is that you alternate every other year: One year, you spend Christmas Day with the dad, the next you spend Christmas Eve. If that doesn’t work, then you split the day. I don’t see/understand how two grown adults such as your wife and father can’t be rational.

Even if I *do* see my family every other day of the year, that doesn’t mean I’d want to spend every. single. Christmas. with just DH’s family. That is absurd. We have our own traditions and things that I look forward to. For a while, DH’s dad would come in for only the day before and the day after Christmas and that’s the only time we’d see him all year. DH still understood that being with my family was extremely important. So, some years he’d join us at our house, other years we split the day.

I also find your wife’s reasonings that the families can’t blend to be a cop-out.  It just seems like both sides are locked in and not willing to give. 

Post # 24
289 posts
Helper bee

Syerus :  My FI and I currently alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving with out parents.  So this year we spend Christmas with my parents (in Florida) and Thanksgiving with his parents who live 30 minutes away.  Would that work for you?

Post # 25
10509 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

DH and I are thinking about spending 1 day apart this year at Christmas, depending on who is hosting in his extended family.  I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that, but I simply cannot be in some of his families homes.  It’s not very often that he gets to see his extended family all at once anymore, and he grew up seeing them all the time.  Our parents live in the same city, but my sister is here and since she started having kids they have not travelled at Christmas, so my parents came to visit.  DH was thrilled not to travel, but 2 years in a row not seeing his family at Christmas (although his brother and sister came to our place) was getting to be too much.

If we can go to DH family’s celebrations together, great, although I will miss not seeing one of my nephews for his first Christmas.  I hope my sister’s family will be open to celebrating Christmas in January if that’s the case, just so we can have fun with the kids.  If that’s not possible, DH will probably travel for Christmas Eve with his family and I will stay here with mine and he’ll come back for Christmas Day.  It sucks, but I’m not going to sit ouside when it can be in the -30s.


With your situation the big issue I see is that you and your wife aren’t coming up with something you both feel is fair and sticking with that together.  In your situation, I would probably agree to alternate – Christmas with her family and then Christmas Eve/Day split between the 2 sides the other, so basically 75% of the time for her Dad because of the differences in how much you see the families.  Then tell her Dad – this year on Christmas Eve/Day we are busy, if you choose to visit at that time, we will not be available to see you, but can the other days.  If there are complaints when actually seeing him, decrease that 75% amount.

DH did something like that for me – decreasing the family time.  When we were in the same city as our parents for dinners it was Christmas Eve my family, Christmas Day with his.  We would go over to see his extended family before my parents’ dinner.  One year everyone showed up really late, made rude comments to me and were harsh when we left to see my parents.  We stopped going for a few years after that.

Post # 26
10509 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

MrsMeowton :  I feel the whole blend the families together is often way more complex than it may first appear.  It’s not just the parents to take into consideration, in this situation the wife has a sister – I’m guessing the OP sees more than just parents.  And then thinking beyond that, there’s the siblings spouses, parents, etc.

I’m guess the Dad here wants to see both children, so if one of the OP’s family members insists on hosting, it’s not just bringing over Dad to the other side, it’s the sister and her family too.

Post # 27
431 posts
Helper bee

Christmas is just another day of the year. I work holidays, so my family does Christmas with me after actual Christmas.

I’m sorry, but if he only gets to see his daughter 5 days a year, it is very important tgat you spend that day with him.

I don’t think he’s being unreasonable at all.

What IS unreasonable is not wanting him over to your family’s house on Christmas because of his “class”. That’s absurd.

Post # 28
160 posts
Blushing bee

Syerus :  I’m a bit late to the game responding so not sure if you will actually read this. But in my family us kids spend Christmas apart from our SO’s. One of my brothers have kids so they spend Christmas as a family without parents. We have discovered that we all prefere spending time with our own families around holidays and don’t feel like driving for hours to visit both sets of parents. I enjoy getting to be with my family the way we did when we were kids and I get to fight with my siblings and fall back to that juvenile role. We get to spend rest of the year with our SO’s. I like my partners parents but I have to say that holidays in that house don’t feel like a holiday and I prefere my family. I’m sure he feels like Santa has thrown up at my parents house and he can’t take the fuss. My sister in law doesnt have too much time off from work so she likes to go back home for a few days and see her family and old friends.

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