Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Splitting the Holidays-Venus' View

Before a woman gets engaged or married she often fantasizes about her future with her beloved. She may dream about the wedding day, the honeymoon, the birth of their children, and then being very old and walking through the park holding hands with her beloved.

I am willing to bet that none of us fantasized about sitting at the kitchen table going, "No honey, its fine if we spend ANOTHER Thanksgiving with your mother."

Thanksgiving is really the big social holiday on the calendar. The original inception of Thanksgiving was as a big dinner party, as opposed to Christmas, which has really been a smaller gathering since its inception over 2000 years ago.

Hubman and I have never really bickered about where to spend the holidays. When we were first married I worked retail, so the fact I had to be at work the day before and after Thanksgiving and the day before and after Christmas dictated that we would spend the holidays with his parents as they lived about 2 1/2 hours away, as opposed to my parents, who lived five hours away.

Once the kids became old enough to appreciate Santa, we determined that Thanksgiving would be our flexible holiday, while we stayed home on Christmas. We are also lucky that our families get along well and truly enjoy each other's company.

However, I often hear horror stories involving hurt feelings, fights or people going to five houses in one day in order to satisfy everyone, when in truth all you get is exhaustion with wired, sugared up, mildly nauseated children.

I find that the modern family in all of its permutations makes the holiday's even more difficult. With divorces and remarriages and the accompanying siblings and step and half siblings, it is not uncommon to have a minimum of four different family members to spend each holiday with. This is the case for us as well. Thankfully Hubman's Dad's girlfriend hates hosting, and I do not speak to my father, or we would be negotiating four or five locations instead of two or three.

Hubman and I are fortunate to not live right near our relatives since this keeps us from getting sucked into the holiday madness.

I think the smartest thing to do is sit down with everyone involved and schedule the holidays. Put everyone on a rotation and stick with it. Or decide that you will travel for Thanksgiving, and host people for Christmas Eve, but Christmas Day is a home day for all involved. If you have parents that had a nasty divorce invite one parent for one holiday with the in-laws and the other parents with the other in-laws the next year.

Without even dealing with logistics and hurt feelings of the relatives there is also navigating the preference of each member of the family. From stuffing choices, to pie selection to obnoxious Uncle Fred and his farting and annoying politics, the Thanksgiving holiday can be fraught with annoyances for everyone.

For the third year in a row, we are traveling to New York to spend Thanksgiving with my mom's family. (Hubman's mom is a 10 hour drive, so we are not going there-literally) While Hubman loves my mom and stepdad, Thanksgiving is a bit much for him, as he deals with the primary stress of the drive down. Another stressor is that my mom crams close to 30 large and loud people into a space meant for about 15. Combine those issues with the fact that my sister does not seem to discipline her kids and no one can remember exactly what Hubman does for a living, Thanksgiving can be a bit of a trial for him.

However, he knows how much I miss my mom, and how I crave the occasional loud family gathering with way, way too much food and he humors me because he loves me so much.

Personally, what I find more challenging than dealing with the logistics of where to spend the holidays is trying to pace the Christmas shopping so each parent feels that they are being treated equally, especially in the matter of gifts from the Grandchildren. But that is another post for another day.

So what is your experience with the Holiday's? Are you on a simple schedule or is it a time of year fraught with hurt feelings and stress? What is the one thing about your holiday plans or traditions that you would change.
Big thanks to Shelle from Blok Thoughts for letting me join the group. Some of you might recognize me as Veronica, wife of Hubman, from Hubman's Hangout. In the interest of full disclosure, Hubman has a rather naughty blog. On my blog, Another Suburban Mom I can guarantee naughtiness on Thursday since I regularly participate in Half Nekkid Thursday, and on the 15th of the month when I write erotica. However, with the exception of Friday's which is when I post recipes, I cannot promise that I might not be naughty on a random Tuesday or Monday. So enter at your own risk.


Just Jules said...

Isn't it amazing that not even our parents have grown up. I understand that everyone wants to be included in the holiday plans however they are just dates on the calender.

Being able to get together no matter what the date is all that should matter. Of course - remind me of this when my children are adults, and after having four kids I am sitting alone on Christmas ;)

Anonymous said...

Nice first post Veronica, you're perfect for this!

I don't have to deal with this dilemma yet, thankfully - but I think it makes it a whole lot easier that in England we only have Christmas, no Thanksgiving to stress about!

We always go to my mum's family for Boxing Day, but that's just because my Dad's family live so far away! He seems to like it though, my family is pretty chilled adn it's a long standing tradition - I don't know what will happen once all my cousins start getting married and having kids!

---Amy xxxx

Hair Bows & Guitar Picks said...

Great post Veronica!

I wish that we had more parents. It's just the 5 of us for Thanksgiving and for Christmas!

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Hey Veronica---

We split it by going to my parent one year and his the next year. That is how we have done it, I figure that I'm going to try and see how long I can go without having to host Thanksgiving myself! :)

Thanksgiving to me always seemed like a strange holiday and somewhat over stressed about. You cook and cook, then sit down at this big meal, then right when you get down stuffing your self to the point of being sick you are asked to clean up the mess! Once that is done, most people pass out from exhaustion!

Well we decided a few years ago that we are going to make it a little different than that, so in the morning hubs and son go play some kind of sport where they name it turkey-something-or-other...I go walking, jogging or biking...we eat at someone's house, still pass out, but then either play board games that night or go to a movie that came out recently!

So for us, no matter where we are, we have some consistency and something to look forward to, who knows what will happen when we have to grow up and host it oursleves, slaving away over the food!?

Great post!

Anonymous said...

For the past several years, Christmas has pretty much centered around our house. It's bigger, my mom & dad & sisters live in small apartments, so it makes sense to gather here. For Thanksgiving, we'd generally travel five hours south to my mom & dad's place, which was near my grandpa & grandma & aunt & uncle. That was the one holiday when we all gathered together. But grandma and grandpa both passed this year, and my mom & dad moved north, so it'll be easier this Thursday; we're going to their house to do some of the cramming, of people and food, Veronica wrote about (beautifully, I might add!).

And, as I said yesterday, we are contemplating a trip to my wife's parents house for Christmas in northern Minnesota.

So, for the first time in years, we may not have to host any holiday this year! As my teenager would say . . . YAYZ!

Now I'm off to read some erotica!


Anonymous said...

Overeating, drinking too much, endless family conversations. Some good times, some rumors and hard feelings.

Chief said...

Duke's family does not celebrate holidays (strange)

While this makes it easy for me, I think it makes it hard for him because he feel a sense of sadness each year. We have to be very sensitive to that.

I guess I would welcome the idea of splitting them if that meant he would have a closer family

ZenMom said...

Awesome post, Veronica! Looking forward to reading more from you over here, I hope! :)

In our 10+ years together, we've managed to split our holiday time between out families with no ill feelings or any real problems. It helps, I think, that we live close enough to most of our family that we are able to see them quite often in between holiday gatherings. I think it would be much harder to plan things if we had to travel far to see our families.

Anjeny said...

Veronica..welcome to the blog, love your post. I feel exhausted just thinking about all those different places you have to go for the holidays. And make me feel really grateful that my hub and I chose to live where we are with both sides of the family are same distance from us and the only way to see either side is to travel by planes.

I think I'd go completely insane if I have to try and come up with way to appease both sets of parents(his and mine) on holidays to try to make it fair for everyone and not hurt anyone's feelings.

Like I commented on yesterday's post, my friends and I and our families get together to celebrate the holidays with an assigned dish and it was way better and less stressful than if I have to keep track of who's parents to go to and deal annoying relatives and such.

Hubman said...

You're damn right that Thanksgiving is a drain for me! But you're worth it, baby :-)

Anonymous said...

We all live right here. What we do is just do dinner(midday for those who call that something other than its proper name) one place and supper the other. Then on Christmas we do the reverse, dinner at place we ate supper before and supper where we ate dinner.

Good post! Welcome.

Domestically Disabled said...

We are pretty fortunate that we enjoy running around to visit family if necessary. However, most of us are pretty close together, so we don't have far to drive. As long as we get to be with family, we're happy. It's also fun to REQUIRE family members to fill out a leaf for the "Thankful Tree" that we create and then my nine-year-old reads them all out loud. I say "Force them to look at what they are thankful for" but then, I tend to be the eternal optimist in the family. :)

Great post!

nikki said...

this was a "must" discussion before we got married. holidays have always been a big to-do for my family. every year, since i was a wee babe, we flew back to boston to spend christmas with my grandparents.
so, we agreed early on to go back and forth each year. thanksgiving with his fam, and christmas with mine. the next year vice versa. so far so good. it also means, i never host a meal. and im not so sad about that. (my unused china set might be, tho)

T said...

haha - I'm probably one of the few that is okay with never spending another holiday with MY family. say it with me now: "dys - func - tion - al"

Thanksgiving we travel (and occasionally host) - but Christmas is for our family alone. Luckily his family lives near enough to do the quick weekend trip and my family is aware of the fact that I refuse to visit Colorado during any month where the temperature has a possibility of dipping below 60 degrees.

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