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Holiday Drama with Splitting Family Time

Ladies, how on earth do you deal with family drama around splitting the holidays? Our plan this year was to spend Thanksgiving with my fiancée's family, and Christmas with mine. Reasonable enough, right? A couple days ago my fiancée asked if we could go to his family's house (two hours away) for Christmas Eve dinner, which is a big deal for his family. His dad has cancer and he doesn't see his family very often, so I thought that was a reasonable request. We would still be home for Christmas morning with my family. I mentioned this to my mom, and she got upset that we wouldn't be around for Christmas Eve, saying that we had told her we would be home. She also said that she had wanted to go to Christmas Eve mass with our family to honor my dad, who passed away earlier this year. I feel like I'm losing my mind trying to keep everyone happy and avoid arguments with my fiancée and my mom. Help!

Re: Holiday Drama with Splitting Family Time

  • You and your FI need to figure out what the TWO OF YOU want to do.  And then stick to it.  Someone is going to be upset- you can't control that.  Accept that and move on.

    YOU felt it was a reasonable request.  That's all that matters.  It doesn't matter what your mom thinks.

    And I've had my step mom do this.  NO mention of any ideas or plans around X, but once I say that the ILs want to do X, all of a sudden it's "Oh- well...  I had thought we might do __.  But... o.k. I guess we won't".

    She's only throwing that shit out because suddenly she feels threatened. 

    To your mom I would simply say "Well, I understand your disappointed.  I wish we could be in two places at once.  But as we can't be, FI and I are sticking w/ the plans we already made.".  If she pushes, I'd just say "When FI asked to do this, I agreed.  I'm not backing out on that.". 

    Again- you have to accept that you can't make everyone happy.  And guess what?  It's not YOUR JOB!  They are responsible for their feelings. Really, they are.  It's not your job.  Your mom (and your FIs family) is going to have to accept that now that you're a couple, you're going to have to split your time.  AND sometimes things will come up that might mean having to change things up.  His dad is sick - makes TOTAL sense that he wants to spend part of the holiday with him.  I would hope your mom can understand that.


  • It can be really hard. When you factor in siblings schedules, divorced families, and work schedules, it gets very complicated. VOR is completely on target, you guys need to have a united front and you need to each talk to your respective families. Then let go of feeling guilty or worrying that your respective MIL's hold YOU accountable for taking their child away.

    Additional advice... I'd do my best to not get locked in to a yearly tradition that you HAVE to be present for. If you say you'll always make christmas eve dinner or christmas day gift exchange, it will make your families feel like they are losing out if you can't come one year.

    Are you the first to "leave the nest" on your mom's side? It can be a really hard adjustment for parents to realize that you have a new family with your FI and with your family-in-laws. Be consistent and clear with her and don't push over once your decision is made, but be considerate that this might be a difficult adjustment for her. Hopefully she'll get better at accepting scheduling conflicts as time goes by.

    Finally, don't feel bad about prioritizing some holiday time for you and your FI. My husband and I hosted my parents for thanksgiving then spent the weekend with his family, we're doing christmas eve and christmas just the two of us, then we're doing a weekend with my family and a weekend with his extended family in January.

    Your decisions make sense and you're united in them, so stick to the plan and it will most likely get easier!
  • Well your mom never should have assumed that you would be spending Christmas Eve with her.  Even if you weren't seeing your ILs, you could have had other plans.  That is on her and she has no right to be upset about it.  Well, let me take that back, I can understand being disappointed and I also know she is grieving, but that still doesn't mean that you have to cancel your plans to make her happy.  You are in an impossible situation.  One family that has already lost a father and another that might.  

    Take comfort in knowing that you are doing your best.


  • KyraNerysKyraNerys member
    10 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited December 2014

    I wish I could tell you that it gets easier dealing with all of these personalities over the holidays, but after 21 years of marriage, I can assure you that it, unfortunately, does not.  I would LOVE it if my husband would agree to go spend Christmas Eve with his family without me, so I could spend Christmas Eve with my parents and then we could have the ENTIRE CHRISTMAS DAY all to ourselves and not have to leave our home or have anyone in it.  I cannot imagine a more awesome thing ... I really, really, do not like the whole Christmas thing.  People are so irrational, like what exact 24 hour period you spend with them for Christmas matters one bit. 



  • Aside from church services that occur on Christmas Eve and Day, the actual days themselves are filled with eating, playing games, watching movies, chatting and opening gifts. Any of these activities can be done on any day of the year. There really is no difference between December 23rd and December 24th or 25th. Or, December 11th or the 4th. Etc.

    Moving forward, why not see if your family or his family can "celebrate" Christmas over a different set of days earlier in December. Then, the other side of the family can celebrate over the actual Christmas dates (24th-25th).

    With this there will be no crazy running around. No fighting. And no one feeling like they're getting the short end of the stick on holiday celebrations. Every body gets their own "protected" holiday celebration.

    This year we celebrated Christmas the 13th-16th of December with DH's family. We had actual Christmas just DH and kiddos and me. We're doing my family's Christmas the second weekend in January.

    It seems to work well. With this, my sis and her DH celebrate over actual 24th-25th with his family. Our family in January like I mentioned. DH's brother and our SIL, celebrated with us on the 13th-16th and with her family the 24-25th. It's so nice and PEACEFUL.

  • Splitting the time is always an argument for us. I have a tendency to want to make everyone happy which makes things difficult. DH and I live 2 hours from my family, 4 hours from his family, and the families are 4 hours apart from each other. 

    We have taken to spending Thanksgiving with his family then going to my family the weekend after, since everyone usually gets together for my (much younger) cousin's birthday that weekend anyway. This year the plan was to do Christmas eve and day with my family then leave late Christmas night to drive to see his family, but we managed to make it to his family earlier on the day (we visited with my whole family earlier than expected) and got to see everyone on Christmas day which is nice. (Although once we have children this will all be much more difficult with the travelling). 

    People are going to be demanding. People are going to try and guilt you into things. I've only been married for 4 months, and I have a hard time with this still, but my first priority has to be my husband now, and his has to be me. It's the only way you can get through it- take a united front. I'm pretty sure my mom is upset that we are spending more Christmas with DH's family than with mine, but we see my family more since they are closer. I have to be fair to him too! 

  • Aside from church services that occur on Christmas Eve and Day, the actual days themselves are filled with eating, playing games, watching movies, chatting and opening gifts. Any of these activities can be done on any day of the year. There really is no difference between December 23rd and December 24th or 25th. Or, December 11th or the 4th. Etc.

    You would think that though, wouldn't you? I was told this, too.
    Every other year we switch holidays. Thanksgiving with one, Christmas the other. Then switch. Last year, it was my parents' turn for hosting Christmas, except - last year was my first Christmas with DS. My parents understood that I have a family and I have a right to spend Christmas Day with my son. This year, it was the in-laws' turn. They are not as understanding - or forgiving. Being my second Christmas with DS and first with DD I was beyond excited. Until the dreaded family Christmas was brought up. MIL had her entire family spend the night Christmas Eve so that everyone would be there first thing Christmas morning but DH and I said no - She said it's their turn and we can celebrate Christmas any day really - - I said ok so why don't we do it with you all Saturday. - - That went over just peachy. It's "just another day" for you - but not for them. ((Bah humbug))

  • skylily said:

    Aside from church services that occur on Christmas Eve and Day, the actual days themselves are filled with eating, playing games, watching movies, chatting and opening gifts. Any of these activities can be done on any day of the year. There really is no difference between December 23rd and December 24th or 25th. Or, December 11th or the 4th. Etc.

    You would think that though, wouldn't you? I was told this, too.
    Every other year we switch holidays. Thanksgiving with one, Christmas the other. Then switch. Last year, it was my parents' turn for hosting Christmas, except - last year was my first Christmas with DS. My parents understood that I have a family and I have a right to spend Christmas Day with my son. This year, it was the in-laws' turn. They are not as understanding - or forgiving. Being my second Christmas with DS and first with DD I was beyond excited. Until the dreaded family Christmas was brought up. MIL had her entire family spend the night Christmas Eve so that everyone would be there first thing Christmas morning but DH and I said no - She said it's their turn and we can celebrate Christmas any day really - - I said ok so why don't we do it with you all Saturday. - - That went over just peachy. It's "just another day" for you - but not for them. ((Bah humbug))
    Yep. That's the one problem with this idea. Everybody has to be on board with it. And, like what happened to you, it can be used "in reverse."
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