ho-ho-how to: splitting holiday time

With Thanksgiving just 10 days away (wasn’t it just summer like.. yesterday?!) if you’re anything like us and putting off those questions of “What’s your plan for the holidays?” until the very last minute..

Time is up. Let the reindeer games begin, y’all!

This is the first year we’ve had to have the “where are we spending the holidays?” discussion, as last year we both already had holiday plans set in stone. (Not to mention I had a work trip to West Palm Beach, and LJ had an annual wrestling tournament.) While it wasn’t exactly ideal, we celebrated a few days early together in South Carolina, and then went our separate ways for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And I don’t mean separate ways lightly – I’m talking 400 miles apart separate ways. That’s right – 413 miles be exact. While we live (together now!) in South Carolina, my family is still back in northwest Pennsylvania and his family is in Delaware. Talk about a big wrench in “splitting” holidays, there’s no option for brunch with my family and dinner with his in our futures any time soon. Needless to say, it was time to get planning.

I know this can be a huge source of stress for many people. worrying about what your families will say, but the best place to start is an honest conversation with each of your families. I’m extremely lucky to have an understanding (and willing to share) family – perks of having 4 older cousins who have paved my way, thanks boys! But in all seriousness, it’s extremely important to set realistic expectations with both families, and don’t be afraid to voice those. I think we can all agree that it’s better to ruffle some feathers in advance, than drop it on your mom on Christmas Eve that you in fact won’t be home for Christmas.

Every family dynamic (and geographical limitation) is a little different, but have no fear – there are options! Don’t be afraid to try something new, in order to find what it is that works best for you and yours. If you have a private jet, this probably isn’t a huge problem for you…

But for the rest of us, here are what seem to be the top 3 options for splitting holidays:

Option 1:  Attend multiple events – and see both of your families!

Now, this is obviously the most ideal set-up and works really well if you’re all relatively close in distance. It might take some juggling to find out what time is best for each group of people, but this option makes it a little easier to get around that “But we won’t get you all day!” argument with a quick “At least we’ll be here!” It probably won’t be the most relaxing day for you – but hey, who ever said the holidays are meant for relaxing?

Option 2: Switch off on holidays and/or years

This one seems like the best option for us this year, since splitting the day up is 100% out of the question. This one has a little bit of room for putting your own personal touch on as well, in order to keep everyone happy! Maybe your family has some strong traditions and you’ll choose to spend Thanksgiving with them every year, and Christmas (Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/whatever holiday is special to you) with your partner’s family. Or, maybe you’ll spend Thanksgiving with one family this year, and switch the holidays around the next year.

Option 3: Start a new tradition, and host your own holidays! 

This option sounds like my absolute dream holiday situation. (LJ would probably beg to differ, but that’s okay. His Scrooge heart is growing year after year.) I love hosting parties and get-togethers, and the idea of having BOTH of our families together under one OUR roof is the ultimate for me. But, this one could get a little tricky, especially if someone has a long-standing tradition of hosting the whole extended family for a certain holiday. Maybe (hopefully) someday this will be the best option for us!

No matter what route you choose to go for, it’s crucial not to lose sight of what the holidays are all about. Blending your life with someone else’s requires a whole lot of love and compromise. Remember that, while you have your own traditions, chances are your partner and their family do too. Embrace the hustle and bustle that comes with the holidays – even if it requires a little more mulled wine than hot chocolate.