You know what one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is? The family traditions. Growing up, my family had several: my dad was always the one who put the star on the tree, we always watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve, and we would always go to my grandma’s house in Augusta on Christmas afternoon.
As soon as Andrew and I got married, we decided that, since we were now our own little family, we wanted to have our own traditions. So far, we’ve taken at least a few days to get away for our anniversaries, where we buy ourselves a pair of locally made stoneware mugs. We have homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast on big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.). And we decided that Christmas morning was going to be our family at home, a tradition we plan to uphold when kids come along, too.
But, what does that mean for our individual families? We actually live in the same town as both my parents and brother, as well as Andrew’s parents, grandparents, and all but one of his siblings (his sister is in college, but she’s home for the holidays). My family does Christmas Eve traditions at home, and Andrew’s family does more of their stuff on Christmas Day in the afternoon, so last year worked out perfectly. We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my family on Christmas Eve, had our cinnamon rolls and opened our gifts to each other at home on Christmas morning, then spent Christmas afternoon at Andrew’s parents’ house doing lunch and gifts with them. This year, it won’t be the same though, so I wanted to share some tips on how to “split” Christmas between your families.
- Try to set aside time for both families. If both families are in the same town as you, this is usually pretty easy. You can do like we did, where you do Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas Day with the other. If your family lives out of town, you might visit one of them the weekend before Christmas, and the other the weekend after. My aunt and uncle switch families each year: one year, they travel to spend Christmas with my uncle’s family, then the next year they spend Christmas with my aunt’s family (us!). You could also split it between multiple holidays: Thanksgiving with his family, Christmas with yours; or even Christmas with his, New Year’s with yours. With several holidays here together, there are lots of ways to spend time with all of your family members on both sides. And remember, they want to spend Christmas with their family too, and you’re part of that.
- Don’t forget your own little family. As much as you each might want to continue your childhood traditions, remember that you left your families to start a new one together. It’s a great idea to bring some traditions with you, but remember that you each probably have different traditions. My family does stockings and the gifts under the tree all on Christmas morning, then we watch the parade. Hubby’s family did stockings in the morning, then gifts under the tree that afternoon. You can take turns each year switching traditions, or you could compromise and do it one person’s way. Andrew wasn’t really picky either way as long as he got his cinnamon rolls, so we ended up doing stockings and gifts on Christmas morning. This actually worked out great for us because it left the afternoon open to spend with family.
- Don’t stress about it. In all the craziness of the holiday season, it can be easy to let the stress get to you with the traffic, the shopping, the parties. Don’t let yourself get in a tizzy over who to spend what holiday with. Some years it will work out and fall right into place. Some years, like this year for us, it might not work out the same. For the first time since we got married, we’re able to travel to Augusta to see my extended family for Christmas. Because we’ll be leaving Christmas afternoon, it doesn’t seem fair to spend Christmas Eve with my family, and then cut his family short on Christmas afternoon so we can travel to see my extended family. So, we’re mixing it up this year. Christmas Eve with his family, and we might have to celebrate with my parents a little later.
So there you have it. Just a few ideas on how to split your time with your families this year. And as we remember the true meaning of Christmas, remember that it’s also about spending time with family. No matter what day it is, take a moment to tell them that you love them and you’re grateful for their presence in their lives.
Let me know how you split time during the holidays with your family!