Ask The Audience: Who Holds What Holiday Where?

Ivy says:

I can’t get off the phone today. Part of it is business related, but part of it is my family trying to work out how the holidays will play out- who holds Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, etc. It seems we might have some people coming into town as well. Don’t worry, I will review my avoiding family drama post thoroughly before they get here. Note to self: consider moving farther away. Check out what it takes to move to Outer Mongolia.

Now, for the ask the audience part of this post: How do you decide where the holidays are held? Before we lost my grandma, we had a set routine, but in the last couple of years, we have been kind of flying by the seat of our pants with most of the holidays being held at my mother’s. How do you handle it? We need to come up with a new routine, I think.


  1. Kendra on November 14, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I have the normal “monster” in-law who believes every holiday should be celebrated at her home. Its usually to large and crowded for my taste, so my husband and I decided to make our own holiday traditions. We have Thanksgiving dinner at our home with my parents and a few of our single friends that don’t have local family. While I’m cooking he and the kids go and visit his mother for a lite Thanksgiving lunch and visits. Gives me an hour or so to cook without three little ones under toe. Then they come home to help with the last details and relax and gorge 🙂

  2. JRae on November 13, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    My family is scattered to the four winds. Me and the domestic partner don’t live near either of our families. So, my mom’s side of the family does a destination Thanksgiving, which is sooo fun! 🙂 They try to keep it cheap by going to places that some of the families can camp out at and stuff like that (if they can’t afford a hotel), and that automatically provides fun family hikes by being near parks.

    Vive la destination Thanksgiving! 🙂

  3. Nina on November 13, 2008 at 12:56 am

    My husband and I live in the same town we grew up in, so almost all of our family is here. His is big, mine is small (just my parents and brother). His family does big holidays, mine doesn’t….it’s been an adjustment. It all works out in the end. My parents don’t care if we do Christmas the day before, the week before, or afterwards…they usually leave town to go camping during the Christmas break (we’re all teachers). His family already had a holiday schedule in place. So we do Thanksgiving and Christmas with my parents either the day before or the day after. With his family, we have a whole slate of holiday events…an early Christmas/Thanksgiving get together for the extended family, Christmas Eve day with his mom’s side of the family, Christmas Eve night with his step-mom’s side, Christmas morning with the immediate family, and Christmas lunch with his dad’s side of the family. Every other year, we drive to Corpus Christi (about 5 hours from home) to do Christmas with his sister. The whole family goes, and we stay about a week. Either way, by the time Christmas is over, I’ll be ready for some alone time in a quiet house with a good book!!

  4. Kristen on November 12, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    For years, we lived close to my in-laws and across the country from my family. We ALWAYS spent Thanksgiving with them. Now we are closer to my family and in fact the central home, so we host all 14 of us! (for a week!!!)
    We have tried to alternate Christmases between my family and hubby’s until this year…it will be the last we don’t spend at home. After 20 years of marriage, we have decided to start our own family traditions and stay home.

  5. gracie on November 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    divorce – i don’t have to go there any more, but unfortunately my children do, so I’ll spend a day or two repairing hurt feelings when they get back

    and my father’s side of the family doesn’t do family gatherings

    and my mother’s side of the family — still live the the country that was on the loosing side of the revolutionary war so there are no thanksgiving dinners to worry about there -lol

    just me and the children

  6. Mom of three on November 12, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I’d prefer to host them from time to time, but there are now 17 of us, and the other 12 live close to the parents and we live two hours away, so it’s us drive two hours, or the other 12 drive two hours. My mom didn’t want to get together for Thanksgiving at all, so she’ll come here for Christmas.

    Actually, I’d prefer to stay home and cook a light dinner and let the kids hang with their friends and sit in front of the fire and read a good book. That’s what Mom wanted to do, so I will call her to check on her during the day, but am going to let her enjoy her holiday.

    My MIL doesn’t eat when she comes here to visit, so that would make Thanksgiving a little difficult, if you know what I mean? So we drive there, eat lunch, drive home. No biggie.

  7. Rebecca on November 12, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Yeah, I find this topic soooo stressful. I’m the family mediator, you see, and so it gets me all tense just thinking about working this all out. This year has been especially tough – you see, I’ve recently provided my family with the first baby in 16 years – and now hubby, babe, and I are in high demand and really struggling to choose where to spend our time.

    Here’s our situation: We’re Canadian so, Thanksgiving was in October. Since my family lives only 1.5 hours away, we go there. Thanksgiving is ALWAYS held at my Mum’s aunt’s house. No biggie, right? Hubby’s birthday and our anniversary are the same weekend AND my parents are split. So, that means rushing around like crazy people trying to see both sets of my family, celebrate a birthday, and an anniversary all at the same time. The solution this year: eat Thanksgiving with my Mum, breakfast the next day with Dad, leave town for a week long vacation to celebrate birthday and anniversary.

    Christmas is tougher. Again… my parents are split. Hubby’s family is very small but they all live on the other side of the country. AND we haven’t been to visit them since 2006. We’d planned on going to visit Hubby’s family every December and just alternating where we spend the 25th. And hubby’s family was definitely owed the visit.. but I was seriously panicked about telling my family that we wouldn’t be home for the holidays. Thankfully – my MIL stepped in and said that they’ll come to us in January so that we can be with my family this year – on the condition that we spend 2 weeks with them next December. Seemed like a decent trade-off. So.. that’s what we’re doing.

  8. Armchair Housewife on November 12, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Great question. For us it works out pretty well. My family lives about 7 hours away, and his family close by. We live here in Canada now, and my family is still in the states. So, my hubby’s family already had thanksgiving in October (if you’re really bored you can see the pics here ) so we’re guilt-free to go down and visit my fam for American Thanksgiving.

    Growing up, I was a military kid and was usually too far away to have Christmas with extended family, so my mother really cherished just having us together for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. And I have carried that tradition over. For me, it’s just not Christmas if I wake up to someone else’s tree. Thanksfully my inlaws are super cool, and while I’m sure they’d love to have us, they get it. So we always go over around noon, and usualy stay over Christmas night and hang out for Boxing Day with them, do shopping, eat, whatever.

    As for my family, I will travel down mid-Dec for a long weekend and have “Christmas” with the family then.



  9. jag on November 12, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I lucked out by marrying into a family that already has their schedule set. His parents like to spend Christmas Day together, chilling out, so they do a family brunch on whatever weekend day comes before Christmas, so all my inlaws and nieces/nephews are there then.

    Since one, of not both, of my brothers has been on active duty for the last 10 years, we started doing Christmas at my house. Now that we’re married, we’ve been doing Christmas Eve here for dinner, then Christmas alone. Which is awesome, because we can just hang out and play with our new stuff.

    Of course, all this may change when kids come into the picture, but it’s worked so far.

  10. Nicole on November 11, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    This gets sticky, and will onl et stickier when Hubby and I have kids! As of right now, my parents and his parents live int he same town. We do Thanksgiving LUNCH, while his parents do Thanksgiving DINNER. Christmas is similar. His family always does Christmas EVE while mine has always done Christmas MORNING. So far so good.

    Here comes the sticky part. I was adopted. My biological parents each live about an hour closer to us than our parents do (They are still 2 hours away though), but they also expect us to visit at some point during both holidays. Not on the exact day of the holiday as they know that my adoptive family I grew up with comes first. However, with my biological mother’s family and my biological father’s family, this can mean 3-4 different days of Thanksgiving and 3-4 of Christmas. Pretty much every weekend in November and December is taken up!!

    We aren’t pregnant yet, but we are trying, and we have decided that we will not drag our kids all over creation every year so something will need to change once we have kids, we just don’t know what yet.

    I think perhaps we need to look into your plan of moving. Hubby was stationed in Japan before we got married…and I’ve been to Japan and love it… Japan just might work! haha!

  11. Princess Leia on November 11, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Well, when I was in college and for the “single” years afterwards, the routine was to go to my cousin’s house. I don’t even think we had to bring anything. We just got to enjoy her yummy yeast rolls!

    Then I got married…and two months later, pregnant. Which meant that I was 8 months along for Christmas and we got to punt on the “where” question. We went to my in-laws for T-day (which is also my hubby’s b-day). Folks came when it was time to help care for me and the baby early in the new year.

    Last year, we did T-day with the in-laws and went to see my folks after Christmas and through New Year’s.

    This year I’m due four days before Christmas, so we’re staying home for both T-day and Christmas. My folks’ll come up after Christmas for the length of their break (they’re both teachers). My in-laws will come up whenever I go into labor to care for our son and then will probably come back after my folks leave.

    So the moral of the story is to be very pregnant and unable to travel for the holidays. It makes the folks come to you without you being expected to make anything! 🙂

  12. Abbie on November 11, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    This has been a seed of contention for our first two years of married life. I’m still trying to figure it out. I LOVE being with family (either side) and my husband likes his personal space. We live near his family, but don’t see them much. We’ve done Thanksgiving with them for the past 3 years and this year my parents are coming to town and now my sisters live here. So we’re trying to figure out eating arrangements.

    Christmas is always split between both sides, although my husband really doesn’t like staying at my parents house (anyone’s house for that matter). So this year we’ve compromised, less days with my family and we’re staying at a hotel so that he’ll have his personal space.

    Here’s to hoping for a more joyful holiday season!

  13. Nancy on November 11, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Thanksgiving is really just a big meal for us. It has never been a huge deal.
    Last year we invited my husband’s family for Christmas. My mother-in-law was obviously not happy with this arrangement, as all of HER children (second marriage for her) and grandchildren were miles away. My father-in-law was happy to be with his grandkids. My Sister-in-law acted put out, although my husband says that she is always like this around holidays. The fact that they were coming from sea level to over 7000 feet did not help. This year we are planning to stay home, as we cannot afford to fly all of us back east. Honestly, I am happiest to stay put, without guests. Guess I’m just a hermit at heart.

  14. Carol on November 11, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    We use to be a lot like your family Ivy. My Grandmother always had Thanksgiving and Easter, and then Christmas was rotated between the rest of the family. Now our family is much smaller, and my husbands family that is left isn’t local.

    So for Thanksgiving dinner we got to my sisters, and Christmas Eve is spent at home, Christmas Day at my other sisters, and then we see my DH’s side of family sometime after Christmas. I am left with having Easter which only is about 10 people, so I don’t mind.

  15. Karen on November 11, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    This has already borne out in the previous comments but I think that the who hosts question is second to the whose family question – especially when there are divorced/step/blended family complications. And OMG, once there are grandchildren with 4 sets of grandparents in 4 cities….

    Personally, I’ve been lucky because Thanksgiving is no big deal in my family. Then my family’s Christmas traditions centre on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Nothing happens in my husband’s family until Christmas dinner. The travel in between is actually a nice little break.

  16. moonablaze on November 11, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    moving only makes it worse. although it tends to get you out of hosting duty, you just end up having to travel, and then make your contribution in someone else’s kitchen.

  17. Melissa on November 11, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    It was pretty easy, at least this year (our first married holiday season).

    My family is significantly more awkward than my husband’s. They don’t really talk or interact with each other much, and it’s painful for husband and I after more than a day. We both like to have personal conversations and lots of togetherness.

    So, since Thanksgiving is much less involved than Christmas, we’ll do Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. Christmas will involve driving to Phoenix and being with my father-in-law’s side of the family, at grandma’s house. It will be a change for me, since I’ve done the same very quiet Christmas with my parents each year, but I’m so excited!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.