Holidays
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What's fair when it comes to splitting holidays?

Hi Everyone! 

I imagine each of us has a similar strain when it comes to holiday planning, but I wanted to get some unbiased opinions on the matter. My husband's parents live 7 hours away and his sister 4 hours away. My family lives 15 minutes away.

For the past three years we have always driven down to his parent's house for Thanksgiving and have done Christmas here, but it's not a perfect solution. 1) I never get to have Thanksgiving with my family and 2)He never gets to have Christmas with his family.Regardless, it is extremely difficult to travel every Thanksgiving and to not really get to do our own traditions on Thanksgiving and Christmas as a couple. On Christmas we either stay the night at my parents or we are forced to get up early and go over to my parents the morning of....

What I would REALLY like is if 
1) His sister hosted Thanksgiving-- cutting our travel in half
2) My family would be open to letting us host Christmas Eve dinner so that we can do something at our house. 

All of this to ask:

1) How did you eventually break out and start doing what you wanted on the holidays? If you didn't, why not?
2) What is really considered fair when it comes to splitting holidays and sacrificing time?

I appreciate all kind responses. 


Re: What's fair when it comes to splitting holidays?

  • So which family is holding the gun to your head and forcing you to spend the holidays the way you are?  

    I am not trying to sound mean, but unless there is something you are not writing, you are a married adult who can do whatever you (along with your spouse) want. 

    Personally, if and only if I were happy to travel, I would alternate my holidays - Thanksging with DH's family, Xmas with Ops family then next years Xmas with DH's family and Thanksgiving with OP.  

    But that would only happen if I did not have children.  Once children are involved, all bets are off.  


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  • Unfortunately I'm right there with you. My parents live far away and SO's family is in town here. We usually split Thanksgiving between the two sides of his family and I usually go to my parents' home for Christmas alone-SO usually has to work.  The one year I stayed in town for Christmas we ended up running around trying to see everyone (I think we ended up going to 4-5 of his relatives' homes in an 8 hour timespan) and it was way too stressful for me. If I ever stayed in town again I would put my foot down and we would probably just host at our home for immediately family to avoid the stress. If we ever have children we'd probably do this anyway. SO agrees.

    This year incidentally my SO has Christmas off so we are going to my parents for the 23rd- 24th and flying back early the morning of the 25th. SO's mom isn't happy about it but it's pretty fair as far as splitting our time and SO and I have both decided she can deal with it.

    You could always offer to host Thanksgiving. If you're expected to drive to his parents' home they can surely drive to yours too. Then you could celebrate with your family as well. As far as Christmas goes, there's no reason why your family has to celebrate so early on Christmas. If they had a later celebration, you could spend the morning with just you and your husband in your own home.
  • I know that in my family, we also got up early for Christmas, until somebody got married and put their foot down and said no, I'm not going to be there till 11. You can either start without me or wait, and now Christmas is celebrated later =). I would just go ahead and tell your parents that you and your husband have decided to spend some alone time with each other this year, so you'll be showing up to the festivities a little later than normal.
    chellyberry
  • How we broke out was by saying this year we are doing XYZ. People whined and carried on, but we have very good boundaries both individually and as a couple and held strong.
  • This is really tough, but like other people have said, we eventually agreed what we wanted to do and then told our family our plans and stuck to them. People grumble and complain, but at the end of the day it is impossible to make everyone happy. We try to make things as 'fair' as possible, but sometimes things just work out easier a certain way. We also have family far away so we try to trade off who drives so the same person doesn't always feel put out.
  • 1) How did you eventually break out and start doing what you wanted on the holidays? If you didn't, why not?

    For us, DH and I came up with a plan, stood firm and them communicated it to everyone before the holidays started. Most Moms and Dads were once in your shoes. I can't imagine they would be totally unsympathetic. My family wasn't jazzed to not see me on Christmas morning, but they embraced the fact that I was growing up, and outwardly seemed happy that I was doing my own thing. It was the same with my husband's family. The hard part is coming up with something that works for you and your husband. Consider what's most important, and stand by your decision.

    As for hosting your own thing of Christmas Eve, just put the offer out there. Maybe throw the idea around a little first to test the water. Entertaining for holidays is so rewarding though. 

    2) What is really considered fair when it comes to splitting holidays and sacrificing time?

    My father always tell me that "fair" is a term used to describe the weather, nothing more. Work toward making your family (you and your husband) happy. It's never going to be perfect. Time will never be split 50/50 down the middle. Do what's best for you, and do not be afraid to adjust. My husband and I change our schedule almost every year. If we felt we should have gone and didn't we apologize. If we went and felt it wasn't a good use of time the previous year, when next year comes, we thank the host for the invitation and send our regrets. Try for happy, not fair or perfect.
  • Well my ILs live halfway across the country and my husband works retail, so seeing them for the holidays hasn't been an option since he transferred out here ( before we even met ).  So now our the holidays are spent between us and my family.  I remember when I told my family we wouldn't be there for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning anymore as DD was one at that time and we wanted to start having Christmas eve and morning at our own home.  My dad didn't like it and gave me a hard time, but I let him know it wasn't up for discussion, we were staying home and would see them later in the day.

    My advice is to see it as splitting your time not between two family but three.  You and your husband are a family too and the most important one.  Look at a calendar and prioritize the holidays you want to spend just the two of you, then fill in time with both sides.  Also, remember that you don't have to celebrate on the specific day.  You can have a second thanksgiving a few days later and another Christmas one week before or even on New Years.  
  • You guys, this is all so helpful. Thank you so much. So, here is where we are at now. We are still driving down to see his family for Thanksgiving-- but we've agreed to go earlier in the week so that he has more time to spend with his family, and then we will drive back on Black Friday to see my grandparents before they head back home from visiting.

    We have secured the hosting spot for Christmas Eve and we are SO EXCITED. We even went and bought a forever dining room table to hopefully help start the tradition. We also extended an invitation to his parents to come that evening, although they will likely decline since they have two young grandkids a couple hours away and to be honest I don't think anything beats Christmas eve with your young grandkids and Santa on the way-- so we totally understand.

    I think you all had a great point about Christmas Morning. I haven't yet mentioned it to the family, but I think we will decline early morning festivities and do something sweet and quiet in our own home and then head over to my parents around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. That also gets the awkward part out of the way since we always exchange more gifts between ourselves in the morning. This way we can bring the gifts for my family over in the late morning and it's more festive. 

    I will let you all know how this goes. And we are definitely aiming for "happy" over fair. Fingers crossed this goes well!
  • This year we decided that we would do one holiday with his and one with mine. Next year we will rotate the holidays.  I let my finance decide which holiday to go where this year.  He choice Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. 

    Both of our parents live an hour away from us... in different directions.  We both refuse to split half the holiday one place and half another because we would spend more time traveling then enjoying our holiday.  His mother has made it clear that something will have to change when we have children.  I told her that we will have to take it as it comes because I refuse to make my children spend 4 hours in a car on Christmas (an hour to his parents 2 from theirs to mine and then an hour home... not happening!).
  • This year we decided that we would do one holiday with his and one with mine. Next year we will rotate the holidays.  I let my finance decide which holiday to go where this year.  He choice Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. 


    Both of our parents live an hour away from us... in different directions.  We both refuse to split half the holiday one place and half another because we would spend more time traveling then enjoying our holiday.  His mother has made it clear that something will have to change when we have children.  I told her that we will have to take it as it comes because I refuse to make my children spend 4 hours in a car on Christmas (an hour to his parents 2 from theirs to mine and then an hour home... not happening!).
    </blockquote
    If my MIL gave me an ultimatum like that I would have told her the thing that was changing would be her chance to spend the holidays with her grandkids
  • BrideT0be15-- honestly-- from what i've heard-- once you have kids-- you get to call the shots. It's a lot easier for two adults to come visit you than to uproot your kids and all their gifts to celebrate at someone else's house. That sounded like a cruel ultimatum that you will need to rely on your husband to make clear that your kids will come first.
  • I'm not sure how we came to this "agreement," but our first set of holidays together was how we've spent every one since.  His parents live 3.5 hours away, mine 5 minutes.  We always have Thanksgiving (lunch-time) dinner with my family and spend about 3-4 hours with them.  As it nears dinner time, we head to their house, arriving later in the evening.  We then spend Friday-Sunday with them.  They don't get the actual holiday with us, but instead get 3 days with us.  At Christmas time, we always spend Christmas Eve with my parents.  We spend whichever weekend is closest with his family, again for an extended Friday-Sunday to allow more time with them.  His family is very accepting that the holiday is all about being together, no matter what day that lands on.  We just did our weekend with them for Christmas.  It works nice for everyone since his aunt & uncle work in fields that require Christmas work hours (healthcare/airplanes) and his sisters also need to have time to spend with their husband's families.
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