Holidays can be stressful, to say the least!
And deciding how to split them up between your family and your significant other’s family only adds to the drama. This has been a major topic of conversation around our office so we asked Arielle, Dana and Tara, who have all had to navigate this sticky situation over the years, for some guidance. Then, we polled all of you to get some more advice! Read on for what everyone had to say on one of the more difficult aspects of the holidays.
1. When it comes to you and your significant other, how do you decide which house you’re going to for the holidays?
Arielle: Our parents have become friends since we’ve been together and sort of have been working it out together. They know at this point that my mom has one specific night and my mother-in-law gets the other night and we’ve been pretty consistent with that.
Dana: When it’s Christmas or Easter, we’re with his family, and then we’re with my family for all of the Jewish holidays. Thanksgiving we’ll start to rotate each year now that we’re married.
Tara: Before we were married, Tyler and I didn’t really share holidays. I guess you can say we are traditional in that sense, we didn’t want to leave our families until we were officially a family! Now as a married couple, we split the holidays based on when our respective families plan to be all together. For example, we go to Tyler’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving because they host all siblings and their extended family and visa versa with my parents for Christmas.
SN Society: My family lives on Long Island and my husband’s is in Florida, so we alternate Christmas Day each year. Whoever doesn’t get the actual day, we have a make-up celebration before NYE.
SN Society: We usually take a look at who is hosting all of the different events and try our best to go to the biggest ones so that we can maximize the number of family members we get to see over the holidays.
2. How do you initiate this conversation with your partner?
Arielle: Honestly, we never really talked about it. I’m super close with Brandon’s mother so the conversation would sort of happen between us. I know that’s not really normal in most cases, haha, but I figured it was easier to go direct rather than play a game of telephone, especially when the guy doesn’t really want to get involved in this stuff anyway.
Dana: Having a different religion than your partner is hard to navigate for many other reasons, but this is one case where it actually makes it quite easy! His holidays are his, and mine are mine.
Tara: I think I acknowledged it first because I wanted to be able to plan for it. We are definitely both sensitive to the topic because holidays are all about family, but we’re typically on the same page knowing we have to devote equal time.
SN Society: When I see an advertisement or something alluding to an upcoming holiday, I will say, “speaking of Thanksgiving, we should figure out what we want to do!”
SN Society: Not easily. I initiated it the first time by telling him he was welcome to come to my family’s house. Even though we’ve been together for 6+ years, we still fight about it.
3. How do you approach the discussion with family once a decision has been made?
Arielle: I navigated the conversation and would connect between my mom and then to Nancy. We finally found our rhythm and have stuck with it. I’m really lucky that our parents are friends.
Dana: It totally rips my heart out. The first year I went to Thanksgiving at Dave’s house I was afraid to tell my sisters and my parents, but ultimately they understand that Dave is my family now, too. Even though I always have fun, I have FOMO for the first part of the day because I know my sisters are all together and I’m missing out.
Tara: We discuss with our families before the decision is made. I am really close with my sisters so we are constantly in touch about coordinating holiday schedules. Similarly, one of Tyler’s sisters lives in the Midwest so we prioritize around when she and her family can travel into town. And of course, we have to be aligned with our parents’ plans before confirming ours.
SN Society: Call them, explain that it’s from a loving place and it’s the best way we can make use of our time and share it with everyone.
4. What is your opinion on hosting both sides of the family yourself rather than having to decide?
Arielle: We do that! We have Shabbat almost every Friday night and at this point, I’ve gotten everyone to pretty much transition to our apartment to find that happy medium. Things are definitely changing though as I’m one of three sisters and we’re all married and all have different obligations now. It’s so special when we all get together for Friday night and spend that time with each other. It’s an extra special treat when Brandon’s family joins.
Dana: Ideal! I can’t wait to have our own home one day so we can do this.
Tara: As soon as my new apartment is furnished I can consider! However, we have lots of nieces, nephews, and extended family to consider so I need a lot of space to host a proper holiday. Give me 5 years…
SN Society: This isn’t as practical for us with our families in different states, but we have done it in the past and it’s actually quite lovely. Everyone is on their best behavior!
SN Society: Tried that! It actually ended up causing more stress, making sure everyone got along and was having good conversation, preparing food for double the amount of people, etc.