The Holiday Family Shuffle

I was reading Assertagirl’s blog entry this morning and I’m afraid I went a little berserk in her comments. (Sorry about that!)

It wasn’t a bad berserk, but more of a crazy/frustrated/I-needed-to-get-it-off-my-chest sort of berserk.

The subject? The holiday family shuffle.


You know what I’m talking about, right? The whole we will be at your house at such-and-such time, but only until 2:00 p.m. when we’ll have to inevitably leave in the middle of some fun game/conversation, feel terribly guilty about it and probably hurt some family member’s feelings over it, so we can race across town and show up late to another family function and stay until the last possible moment to make up for coming late and then getting home to collapse into bed because we’re too tired to unwind, relax and enjoy what little time we have left of the holiday to spend with just our immediate family … dilemma.

*takes a deep breath*

I despise holidays where I’m forced to watch the clock the entire day. It’s not fun for anyone. Let me repeat that, it’s not fun for me. And when the boys were little? It was torture on them because they were so tired but were forced to be polite and good and I would get questions like, “why is MK acting so strange? Is he sick?”


We did the family shuffle every year, for many years. I did it mainly to appease my mother-in-law. We would spend all day Thanksgiving day with my husband’s family and then at Christmas time, we would have brunch over at my parents’ house (because mom was nice enough to move our “dinner” up to brunch so we could participate) because we had to be back at my in-laws’ house in time for lunch.

Do you see the big, fat problem with this scenario? My family was getting the short end of the stick. We never (and haven’t in I don’t know how many years) spent Thanksgiving day with them and then on Christmas day, we went over to their house at 10:00 a.m. to be at their house, eat a hurried brunch, hurry through presents and talk really fast to catch up before we had to leave around 1ish to make it over to my in-law’s house where we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon.

I had finally had enough. I yelled FOUL BALL and revised the rules.

I could no longer stand the fact that we were being terribly unfair to my family. My mother never once (and would never) said a word about the arrangement. She never complained or even made an indirect snide comment about it. Ever. My mom is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet in the entire world and hates to put any stress on you.

But I could see it bothered her. And it really bothered me that it bothered her. But not just that it bothered her but that it was unfair to them and I pride myself on being a pretty fair person.

So … we (because the husband is in agreement with me on this) put our foot down.

New rules have been established: spend all day with his family on Thanksgiving, spend all day with my family on Christmas day.

Needless to say, this is not going over well for my mother-in-law. She’s getting more used to the arrangement now, but it’s been a tough road.

I’m not so hard-nosed that I haven’t tried to come up with an alternate plan. I’ve told her, and I still tell her, that we’ll be more than happy to get together with them/the whole family on any other day BUT Christmas day. Christmas day is reserved for my family. I have brothers-in-law who made plans with their families months ahead of time – they all agree on one day to have their family party and they all show up and have their party. Easy, efficient. I don’t know why we can’t do that as well.

But whatever. People have their parties and if we can show up, great. If we can’t, great. I don’t expect anyone to rearrange their schedules for us. I wouldn’t ask them too – I think that’s rude and presumptuous.

*sigh* It’s hard (and sometimes impossible) to satisfy both families, you know? (Not that anyone is complaining now – we’ve all sort of settled into a pattern – but I can see it still bothers certain *cough*MIL*cough* people).

Anyway, I think the awkwardness has been ironed out and I feel better about the holidays – more so now than I ever have. And yes mom, I KNOW I was always the one to get stressed out, not you. What can I say, I’m a stress machine. 😀

The moral of the story? Be fair, but be firm with family. Sometimes, you have to be.

What do you do? How do you divide your family time on the holidays?

3 thoughts on “The Holiday Family Shuffle”

  1. Hey, no worries! Sounds like I struck a chord with you. This morning my mom was over and I mentioned that eventually I hope that we can have Christmas at our house, and she can come here instead. She seemed interested in doing that. I’ve planted the seed, anyway…

  2. Oh, I sympathize. I know so many people who do this. It happens to me when I go back to Atlanta and have to stay at dad’s house, mom’s house, grandparent’s house, and best friend since forever’s house — but fortunately that’s not at the holidays, so at least it doesn’t have to happen all in one day. It sounds like you came up with a good compromise plan, and i hope YOU are enjoying both days more now. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  3. You’re a lot better than I would have been. I would have put my foot down a lot sooner! 🙂

    For Thanksgiving, we see both families, but we alternate each year who we do the big meal with. Then later that afternoon, we go to see the other side of our family.

    Christmas Day we do brunch with Hubby’s family and we go over to my parents for supper. Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas we do get-togethers with my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family. Hubby’s extended family doesn’t really do any get-togethers, so that saves us from any further craziness!

Comments are closed.