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N in azaleas

Merging Families: Holiday Planning

My husband and I are getting to go through our first holiday season as a married couple, and the parents have started in on the 'who loves whom the most' bit. Sometimes, they even describe it.

Both my parents and Brandon's parents live in the Houston area. Brandon's sister Katharine and her husband live in Dallas. Katharine and Justin have alternated holidays with my in-laws and Justin's parents for years: this year, they're having Thanksgiving with Justin's family, so they're having Christmas with Katharine's family.

How do you all handle the in-law and holiday thing? Does it make a difference if both families are in the same city? How about if children exist? Have you started any new traditions?


Can you do Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas Day with the other, or early shift with one and late with the other?

Can you host everybody at your place?

How are you with the prospect of Christmas in Hawaii, just you and Brandon? We're planning to stay home and celebrate with just the two of us.
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<Can you do Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas Day with the other, or early shift with one and late with the other?

We did that last year. The only problem is that both of our families have a tradition of doing the christmas 'thing' on CHristmas morning.

<Can you host everybody at your place?>

That has been discussed, but my mother can't manage the stairs to our third floor aprtment.

<How are you with the prospect of Christmas in Hawaii>

Mmmmmmmm . . . hawaaaaiiiiiii . . . . Soooooo tempting . . . .
Somebody is going to have to give up their tradition sometimes. Welcome to the real world, where grownups don't get what they want all the time.

Seriously, if there's a lot of emotional blackmail going down, go out of town for Christmas. When and if you have kids, you won't be able to do that nearly as easily, and you really need to break them of the emotional blackmail habit. That's no good.
Here, have a silly icon to distract you from the stress. ;)

the parents have started in on the 'who loves whom the most' bit. Sometimes, they even describe it.

OH lord. Well, you know me.. I get pissed off pretty quickly when the emotional blackmail thing starts up. Who loves whom the most indeed! Bah! Work with us here, people! :D (What do you mean by "they even describe it?")

If you're all in approximately the same area, like Ginger said, it does make it a bit simpler, in theory. If memory serves, there were issues with that last year though? Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas morning with the other is always an option. In theory.

Blargh. I'm going to e-mail you.. I'm not sure how much I should put here publicly.

I also like Ginger's suggestion about Hawaii. ;)

How do you all handle the in-law and holiday thing?

I married a Jew. Very useful. Have you considered trying to convert Brandon's parents? Then they'd just bug you about what you're doing for Passover.... ;)

Good luck getting it all sorted out.... (Actually, the Hawaii option sounds pretty good to me, too.... :) )
We do a lot of dodging.


We did a lot of bouncing back and forth between people. When we had a full compliment of parents to visit...

On year was:
8am- Katy for presents.
10am- WestU for presents.
Noon- Katy for lunch.
4pm- Bellaire for lunch.

One year was:
Katy- Christmas Eve
WestU/Bellaire- Christmas day

At the moment we do a lot of holiday dodging. Last year we spent Christmas in Katy and Thanksgiving in San Antonio, stopped by Bellaire when my folks were "done" (Fosters do lunch and mornings, the Hinds' tend to gather in the afternoon) The year before I think we spent christmas in San Antonio and thanksgiving with my parents.

The big problem for us is that my parents change christmas every year back and forth between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning based on my sisters schedule and thier whim... so we can't really plan around it long term.

Alan and I do christmas morning or evening (which ever my parents don't claim) and just chill out with eachother and enjoy the christmas tree.

It was easier when it was just a bounce between houston and Katy- my parents really don't understand when they don't get us on thier doorstep at thier whim.
I just ignore the blackmail. Keith's smart enough to figure it out, and I didn't marry Joyce, so her personality problems are her own business. If bekah feels like playing with her, she does, and I support that, if she doesn't, she doesn't, and I support that as well.

My mother is dead, it gives me a lot of room to tell people who say I don't love them enough that I love them just as much as my very own mother, who's dead in a file-cabinet. It usually sobers them up and gets them to stop acting like a three-year-old who wants their doll. I find that I'm usually sufficiently insulted by that sort of discussion that I don't mind being brutally honest with people. If they can subvert their decency sufficiently to tell someone else that the other person is their plaything, and expected to show up to be played with, I think they forfeit their right to having their feelings protected by me.

*Shrug* You can set boundaries now, or you can set them later, but don't hurt yourself to make them happy. In the long run, you being unhappy with it will cause far more trouble than hurting their feelings and telling them they don't get their way. Particularly when dealing with people who really care about you, and thus will tend to be upset that you're upset.

Yes, you're deliberately telling them something they don't want to hear. You know it ahead of time, and you've made a concious decision to disappoint them. That said, if you are meeting your needs, it's entirely reasonable to disappoint other people as the situation requires it, because you have to look out for yourself first. Any other priority system falls apart too easily.

So do what you want for christmas. I promise, noone will excommunicate you for staying home, in bed, with cats. No fire will fall from the sky for failure to bow using the correct method. In fact, the only negative experience I can find for you on christmas, is if you do something you don't want to do, because it is "expected". Don't volunteer to be miserable, because then you must suffer the bitter realization, later whilst full of turkey, that you have only yourself to hold accountable for your decision to eat that last piece of turkey, or to show up to be complained at.
N in azaleas

September 2009

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