Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Making traditions of our own

I've heard and read in multiple places that the holidays can often be the toughest tests of relationships.  I wasn't completely convinced that was the case  until I was married.  And boy, is that an understatement.  So much stress comes along with what is supposed to be a happy and relaxing time.  Money stress, making sure you buy presents for everyone, getting the cards out on time, preparing food for holiday get-togethers, and lastly, planning out when we see family.  Both families. 

I have to admit, when we first were engaged, I had a hard time with this.  Heck, I still have a hard time with this.  Part of me wants to be selfish and say "but I wanna see MY family!"  (Picture me stomping my foot on the ground and throwing Oscar-worthy tantrum.)  But...that's not what marriage is about.  Marriage is about compromise.  My family lives an hour away from where we live.  We see them quite often.  T's family, on the other hand, lives over five hours north of us, and we see them only a handful of times during the year.  Quite the difference.  So we've worked on a compromise - rotating the years of when we spend Thanksgiving with T's parents and my parent's, spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family (for now) and then the week after Christmas with T's family.  This year, his family has to travel to us, since I've been given strict "no traveling" instructions from both specialists, so it's worked out quite well. 

The arrangement seemed good enough.  But that arrangement only involved just the two of us.  It didn't take into consideration the fact that soon we would have a third person to consider, someone who may want to spend Christmas at her own home.  After all, Santa comes to her house, right?

T and I have had this discussion several times about what we would do and how things would change once Half-pint arrives.  Part of me has been somewhat resistant.  That part of me is the people pleasing part.  I am petrified of rocking the boat with my family.  I don't want to cause arguments or disappoint anyone.  So I tend to do that thing that we people pleasers do best and put other's needs ahead of my own.  But this isn't just "other's" needs.  This is my own child's needs.  So we made a decision yesterday.  Starting next year, we will spend Christmas Eve with my family, go to mass, eat dinner and exchange presents, and then we'll head home at the end of the night so that we can tuck Half-pint in and get things ready for Santa's arrival.  And we'll spend Christmas Day together as a family, just the three of us. 

Because that really is what we're becoming.  A family.  Our family.  I know we are already a family and have been one since September 18, 2010, or arguably before that.  But it's time for me to make that step and truly put what our family needs first.  Sure, next Christmas Half-pint will only be around 9 or 10 months old, and she won't really know for certain what is going on or who this Santa guy is.  But next year, it really isn't just for her.  It will be her first Christmas, and it will mean something to T and myself that we celebrate it in her own home, thus starting a tradition we would like to see carried out throughout her childhood. 

Am I nervous that this decision will hurt feelings next year?  Dear Lord, yes.  I don't look forward to this conversation by any means.  But...it's something I want.  And it's something T wants.  And in a way, it feels like a big step in the world of adulthood. 

So I put this out to all of my blogging friends with experience in this area...how did you face these sorts of difficult decisions?  Any words of wisdom?  (Or words of warning?) 



  1. Ugh, I hate those decisions too.
    MJ and I have always had to deal with this EVERY SINGLE YEAR. It's sooo stressful!

  2. This one is definitely a hard one. At first, we brought Sprite to the other side (2 hour drive) so we could see both familes since they live within minutes of each other. Then we decided to make our own tradition and wake up Christmas morning, exchange our gifts, and then go to the other coast to see everyone. Now that Sprite is older and doesn't get to see her cousins too much, we're back to Eve and morning on the other side so she can spend more time with them. It's a hard decision, but do what's best for you. BOTH families will understand.

  3. This is an ongoing struggle with us. Christmas around these parts is busy and wonderful. I grew up always doing the same thing, huge Christmas Eve celebration with my Mom's side of the family wake up to be whisked away by my Dad where we would have a small family gathering then back to my Mom's house for Christmas day fun.

    So far, I have held on tight to this tradition. We have dragged Ava to all of this and I have continued to enjoy it, even though it has gotten much more tricky having a child.

    Now we have two kids and John is really pulling for having a family Christmas at home. I think I am ready to embrace that but haven't quite figured out how to tell my family (next year).

    First off I am EXTREMELY lucky that John hasn't made a pull to go see his family on the holidays, we just try to go visit sometime in the season. Secondly I am happy to say I have about a year to face this issue and come up with a good solution :)

    Good luck, you are right, this is when things start to get tricky!!

    The great thing is its basically a win-win no matter what you end up doing as long as you enjoy all parts of each others family which we are lucky enough to do.

    I clearly have my own issues regarding this manner but my advice is to make a special trip to see which ever family you can't see somewhat close to the holiday in question, then you are still sort of pleasing everyone. They are ALL going to want to see that baby! Good luck!!

    Happy holidays!

  4. Right smack in the middle of it now with a 20 month old. We live in Southern CA 1 hour from my brother & his 2 little kids. He stays home since it's next door to his wife's family. Ok - so he agreed, they wanted their kids to wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning. I didn't like the idea since it was breaking up our family traditions of the past 35 years. But, now that I find myself in the situation - I understand. Luckily my husbands family all live close by one another - excluding his grandmother who is in SF - where my 2nd brother lives without kids. So - for my son's first christmas last year we saw my brother & father (who flew in from PA) in LA, drove to wine country to spend holidays with my extended family and included my husbands mother. Then Christmas morning we drove (FAST) to SF to see my brother (and my dad who flew up from my other brothers house that morning) and then spent the night with my husbands father, wife and half siblings and grandmother in SF. You got it - divorce makes it's ALL MORE COMPLICATED. Both our parents are divorced and all get along, but it makes for VERY STRESSFUL Holidays trying to spend it with everyone. WAY TOO STRESSFUL, but here we are again 2011. This year - it's as complicated and we said on our drive here - NO MORE. Grandparents have to travel to see us, or we will celebrate alone at home and make our own traditions and include friends. Makes me terribly sad, but we think it's important to let our son enjoy the holidays in his own home and be in the mindset to ENJOY them and NOT FEEL RUSHED. So - I'm online hunting for NEW TRADITION ideas to being in 2013. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.


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