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The Holiday Season | Whose Family to Spend the Holidays With ?

Whose family will you spend the holidays with this year?

Does this sound familiar?

          “Hey…Thanksgiving is coming up…did your mom say anything about it?”

          “Well…we spent Thanksgiving last year with your parents. I guess this means that we should spend it with mine?”


          “I usually spend one holiday with my family, and then Christmas with his. He always spends his holidays with his family, and not mine…”

Couples develop a wide variety of ways of handling both where they go for the holidays, and how they make the decision on where to go. Some couples avoid the whole question of whose family to spend the holidays with by taking off on an end-of-the-year vacation.

However, while heading off on vacation certainly clarifies your holiday itinerary by neatly sidestepping the issue of who to visit, be aware that family traditions may suffer as a result.

Simply put, there is no set rule of working this conundrum out, other than perhaps the most important rule of all – COMMUNICATE.

It’s so essential that one keeps the lines of communication open, not only with your partner but also with your own families. This is the only way to avoid the stress of those last-minute guilt trips that one parent or another can so very easily hit you and your partner with.

Here are a few tips and ideas that you can adopt to ensure that the stress is free for those special times of the year:

  • BOTTOM LINE : You and your partner, and your relationship, come first

Holidays are important, but not more so than your relationship with your partner. Ultimately, the decision to be made has to be made by you and your partner together. My husband and I try to be fair to each other’s families, and to our own. We tell our parents, in a matter-of-fact way, that our decision is what we would like to do for the holidays, whilst keeping in mind and respecting what they would like as well. We decided that spending alternative Christmases with each of our families, and then having a Christmas where it is just our own, was important to maintaining healthy and strong family relationships, and still putting the emphasis on making our own traditions.

  • ABOVE ALL : Be Flexible

I have a few friends who alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with each of their families … easy enough if both families live in the same city, but what to do if your families live miles apart?

In the latter case, putting your own family’s needs first is of utmost important, but also keeping plans flexible, as circumstances change over time. Whilst it is good to alternate our holidays with each of our families, Ian and I realise that once we start a family of our own, those needs would change and hence, we would need to be flexible to allow the changes to take place without much stress. One day, we would need to stay put during the holiday season, and allow our families to come to us.

  • BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR : There are no guarantees

Planning ahead of time is great to minimise stress. But understanding that there are no guarantees helps with alleviating stress as well. In all manners of life, change is the only constant, and understanding that will help make it easier to navigate the holiday season.

  • UNDERSTAND : Know what’s important to each party

For some families, Thanksgiving is a way bigger important season than Christmas. If this is the case, it’s easier to divide your time between both of your families. Of course, touching base with each family, after communicating clearly with each other, is a good wayto go to avoid ruffling any feathers.

Photo : Amber Marie Photography

So there you have it – a few tips and ideas for Emily Post on how to plan for your holiday season!

On this note, we’d like to wish all of our lovely readers a fantastic Canadian Thanksgiving next Monday. Marriage Manners will be on holiday of October 8th; see you after Canada’s Turkey Day!