Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“How Can We See Both our Families During the Holidays?”

My boyfriend and I have been together in a long-distance relationship for about a year and a half. He’s 26, and I’m 22. We are very much in love and planning on moving close together next summer and probably working toward marriage in the near future. Everything is perfect right now, but I am having some major holiday anxiety. We won’t be able to spend the holidays together this year because he will be flying across the country to meet his new niece, and I need to be with my family since we will be grieving the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s death.

I am mostly writing in to get ideas about how to combine our holidays next year. Our families live about two and a half hours away from each other, so we could feasibly see both families in one day. The major problem is that I do most of the cooking for my family holidays at my parents’ house, and hosting will become my job once I settle down. I usually spend about twenty-four hours cooking our meals, which makes my schedule fairly inflexible. Alternating between Thanksgiving and Christmas with each family won’t work since I do the cooking. I am so busy cooking during the day that I can’t leave to see his family while preparing for my own. His grandmother cooks their holiday meals, and it would be a major offense in his family if I tried to invite them over to a meal that I hosted. I really want to get this right and spend quality time with both of our families. I would love to hear some fresh ideas, or any arrangements that have worked for other people with two demanding (but also fairly understanding) families! — Holidazed

If you’re thinking about marrying this guy in the near future (or any guy, really), you’re going to have to make some sacrifices eventually. By the time you’re married, if not before, you’ll want to spend holidays together, and you can’t expect him to always accommodate you and your family. That may mean alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas. It will most surely mean not doing ALL of the cooking for ALL of your family holidays. Surely someone else from your family knows how to cook, even if it’s not as well as you. If not, meals can always be catered, or your family could go out to a restaurant. People do go out to restaurants on holidays. It’s not like the world is going to end if you don’t spend 24 hours at every holiday cooking an enormous meal. The world won’t even end if you spend the holiday with your boyfriend’s family sometimes. And the world won’t end if you celebrate Christmas with your family on, say, Christmas Eve, or a week earlier or a week later so that you’re free to spend Christmas day with your boyfriend’s family (or vice versa).

This is an issue that couples have been dealing with since the dawn of time. When two people come together and merge their lives, there has to be some sacrifice and compromise made. Maybe with only a year and a half under your belt, you aren’t quite ready to make the sacrifices necessary for a long-term/life-long commitment. That’s fine. Most people wouldn’t expect you to at this point. But when you do marry eventually, whether it’s to your current boyfriend or someone else down the line, it’s unreasonable to think you’re always going to spend major holidays with your family simply because you seem to think you have to do all the cooking or your family will perish. Get used to the idea — and get them used to the idea — that at 22 you’re beginning to forge your own adult life in the world and traditions that won’t always include them. They’ll adapt. Just like their parents did before them.

92 comments… add one
  • avatar

    cporoski December 13, 2011, 7:15 am

    Wendy is right. When you decided to be married, you and your family are going to change traditions…Here is a thought, what did your parents do? For my family, we usually do christmas eve with one family and christmas day with another. When you own a home, you can host the holiday and have people come to you from both sides of the family. For thanksgiving, we normally do Thanksgiving with one family and the day after thanksgiving with the other. We try to alternate. Both sets of parents get hurt sometimes but the love us. Just wait until you have all siblings married. We start emails months ahead of time and make a decision.

    You are young, but I will warn you this. My SIL is getting divorced now and one of the biggest things was that she refused to be with his family and it always became a fight. You can’t think that only your family is important. It isn’t fair.

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    • avatar

      kali December 13, 2011, 2:20 pm

      That’s interesting… I told my ex I was divorcing him and keeping his family! We still do holidays together whenever we are able and we managed to blend both families really well by simply being flexible and maintaining a sense of humor. Both traits that come in handy in relationships of all sorts!

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  • avatar

    callmehobo December 13, 2011, 7:31 am

    Hey LW,
    OK, I understand where you are coming from on the cooking thing. Me and my dad cook Thanksgiving every year for his side of the family- but we alternate Christmas with everybody else (actually, very rarely do we ever host Christmas). But let’s be serious here- I don’t think that you are the ONLY one who can cook in your family. It’s more of a control thing; when you cook you have more control over the proceedings of the day, and I think that might be part of the reason that you don’t want to compromise that. It wouldn’t hurt to let someone else hold the reigns for a bit.

    If that’s too much for you, try staggering the holidays. Cook for your folks on Christmas eve and spend the actual day with his family. Host Thanksgiving day at your house and that Saturday have turkey with his family. It’s not the specific day that matters, but the fact that you get to spend time with loved ones. There isn’t an expiration on holiday spirit! Switch it up different years, or set a timeline that you will follow for several seasons. Make sure that it’s something that you can both agree on, and that both parties make sacrifices (that way one person doesn’t resent the other). It will probably be a challenge to initially decide on a schedule that works for all families, but it will work itself out.

    Remember the reason for the season! As long as you get to spend time with your loved ones during the holidays, who cares what calendar day it happens on? Good luck.

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  • avatar

    Jess December 13, 2011, 7:40 am

    A lot can happen in a year. Especially if you’ve been long distance all this time and will be moving in together. This really isn’t a problem you need to be worrying about until next October. And yes you will have to let go of this mentality that you do ALL the cooking for ALL the holidays, no matter who you are married to.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest December 13, 2011, 9:43 am

      I had to laugh a little when I read all this worry is for NEXT Christmas. This is so something I would do, worrying a year in advance about something. I always joke that if I’m not worrying about it, who else will?!

      Anyway, echo your statement. Worry about this next year if you even have to, who knows what could happen between now and then.

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      • avatar

        ForeverYoung December 13, 2011, 10:38 am

        Haha my mom says that all the time. The rest of my family is very laid back and easy going and would be more than happy to have margaritas and enchiladas for Christmas and she has elected herself the upholder of all traditions. Thanks for the laugh, I can’t wait to see that crazy stressed out lady, it wouldn’t be a true Christmas without her freaking out about the place mats not matching.

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      • avatar

        Vathena December 13, 2011, 11:51 am

        I’m totally going to suggest margaritas and enchiladas for this year’s Christmas dinner.

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        kali December 13, 2011, 2:22 pm

        LOVE it!!

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      • avatar

        cdubs December 13, 2011, 8:25 pm

        YES

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      • avatar

        Red_Lady December 13, 2011, 8:49 pm

        My bf & I spend Thanksgiving w/ my family, then the rest of the weekend w/ his family. Last year our big Saturday night meal was nachos and margaritas. It was awesome!!

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  • avatar

    wendyblueeyes December 13, 2011, 8:02 am

    Wendy is right. You have to be flexible. Do you have siblings? Your boyfriend have siblings? Do you really think that your sibs’ spouses won’t make plans of their own that don’t include going to your house for dinner?

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  • FireStar

    FireStar December 13, 2011, 8:12 am

    I do all the cooking for my family too. And that means I get to set the schedule. Holiday dinner is whenever I cook it. I think the best bet is to alternate days like Wendy suggested. One year you host on Christmas Eve – the next year his family does. If there are too many siblings and variables to change the date then change the time. You can prepare a thanksgiving lunch and then have dinner by his family in the evening – less ideal but doable. I’m sure your families will work with both of you so they get to see you for the holidays. If the alternative for them would be to not see you then they will do what a lot of families have to do and compromise. Just make sure you give everyone plenty notice on the plans.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie December 13, 2011, 8:40 am

    Wendy covered all the solutions that I thought of and far better. My reaction is that at least she has a family. Actually she has two and will someday have her own brood add to the mix. Consider this to be fortuitous, my wife and I have none. Our closest relatives are deadbeat cousins that we avoid contact with. Our friends from the single years have families of their own, some even have grandchildren. For a few years we barged into their holiday meals and ate at the kids table. It was better then nothing. Now days we go to a fine dinning restaurant which satisfies us. We consider ourselves lucky when friends join us and grateful that our secure retirement lets us splurge with generosity to those who have far less. There are millions of people in the world that would be delirious with joy to have a day, any day, to eat a handful of rice and cup of tea without being shot at or worse. The men a women in the military services spend most of their holidays thousands of miles from their families.

    I’m not trying to make light of this LW’s anxiety and situation. It’s very real and valid, rather I hope she considers the fact that it could be worse and cherish the time spent with loved ones.

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    • avatar

      cporoski December 13, 2011, 8:46 am

      Love this. so true!

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    • Jess

      Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com December 13, 2011, 9:40 am

      Wonderful perspective Eddie. I feel grateful too. Racing around because there are so many loved ones to see –that’s a good problem.

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      • avatar

        bethany December 13, 2011, 12:02 pm

        It’s like the episode of Friends when Ross and Carol have Ben. He and Susan are fighting over something when they’re locked in that closet, and Phoebe says how lucky the baby is the luckiest baby ever, because it has 3 parents who love it, when she didn’t have any.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl December 13, 2011, 8:54 am

    LW – I give you fair warning that attempting to cover both families on a single day will get exhausting. I know 2 1/2 hours of travel does not seem like a lot, but it gets to you. Especially if you are eating continuously -damn you turkey!! There is nothing worse than after consuming a massive amount of food having to rouse yourself, pack up, drive, and then do it all again. It is good that you are thinking ahead and not just figuring that because you two love each other, these questions will answer themselves, but like Wendy mention there is going to have to be some give on your side.

    I know my family divides it like this: Thanksgiving – at my parents because my in-laws travel out of town to see my brother-in-law and his family. Christmas Eve – my in-laws followed by mid-night mass. Christmas morning – my parents for brunch and presents. Christmas afternoon – my inlaws for cold cuts and presents. Now doesn’t that seem exhausting, and my parents and in-laws live only a few miles away from each other.

    As for cooking for the holiday events, I agree that scaling it down or picking alternative holidays is your best bet. I think you should pick the dish that you are best known for (be it dessert, side, or appetizer) and promise to bring it, or make it in situ. Besides, if you are moving to be around your BF (and I am assuming you are currently living close to your family), then you do not want to spend all of your precious family time in the kitchen instead of being able to catch up. Good luck!

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  • avatar

    Carolynasaurus December 13, 2011, 9:01 am

    LW, I’m going to be honest with you. From the tone of your letter, you didn’t want advice as how to balance the holidays, you wanted someone to tell you it’s ok to have ALL the holidays at your house because you have to do the cooking. But that’s just not the case.

    Ok, you said you were 22, so how long have you been doing ALL the cooking for your family? I’m guessing a max of 10 years. What did your family do before that? I’m betting they didn’t go hungry because no one else knew what to do. I know it hurts to think about, but they will be ok without you. And you will be ok without them, and if you aren’t, maybe you aren’t ready to start thinking about the sacrifices you’ll have to make when you get married.

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  • avatar

    TheGirl December 13, 2011, 9:14 am

    Your family needs to suck it up and deal. Seriously, you’re 22 years old and you’re the only one that can make thanksgiving and christmas dinner? AND you spend 24 hours doing it?? AND hosting will become your JOB once you settle down? Everything about this sounds wrong. First off, I would never let everyone just coast by and not do anything while I slaved away in the kitchen for 24 hours. Secondly, making holiday meals is no one’s ‘job’.

    My guess is that you probably aren’t planning on spending Christmas with him this year, so take this opportunity to teach everyone in your family to make one item. Then next year they can each make that one item and have a whole meal. If they can’t work up the energy to do that, tell ’em to call Honey Baked Ham or something and order the whole damn thing.

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    • avatar

      Renee December 13, 2011, 9:19 am

      Some people enjoy doing all the cooking from scratch. Cranberry sauce from a can is nasty, after you made it yourself.

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      • avatar

        TheGirl December 13, 2011, 9:27 am

        Then someone else in her family should learn to make it. I don’t think it should be one person’s responsibility to make dinner for everyone every year. If she can make it, she can teach someone else to make it. If they don’t want to learn, then they can eat the canned stuff.

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      • avatar

        amber December 13, 2011, 9:36 am

        I agree, everyone needs to pitch it. What if she had the flu one year? Would no one eat?

        Also I just have to say I will always prefer the canned stuff. I know I’m weird. But, it’s not a holiday for me unless you have the preformed cranberry sauce on the table! 😉 And I have had some excellent homemade cranberry sauce.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph December 13, 2011, 11:50 am

        Disagree completely. I have had some fabulous homemade cranberry sauce, but I’m still perfectly happy eating the canned stuff. Sometimes by itself, with a spoon. Cranberry sauce in all forms is just fantastically delicious.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest December 13, 2011, 11:53 am

        Mmmmmm. I think I just decided what I want for lunch.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl December 13, 2011, 12:24 pm

        I love cranberry sauce from a can! The homemade stuff freaks me out!

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  • avatar

    Renee December 13, 2011, 9:16 am

    There are twelve days of Christmas for a reason. Sometimes it gets celebrated days after the 25th, and that’s OK with us. I have children, so we are in our own home for Christmas morning. Also I have family members in the nursing field, so some years they have to work on that day. Eating two large meals or traveling all in one day is unreasonable. At first it felt awkward, but it’s nice now to still be enjoying Christmas while everyone is back at the mall. Of course this is easier when Christmas falls later in the week, and there is a long weekend.

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    • avatar

      amber December 13, 2011, 9:34 am

      My husband’s family does this for one of the Uncle’s who is a fire fighter. They do their big family Christmas whatever day he has off around Christmas, sometimes it’s the 22nd, 24th, 27th, etc. It doesn’t feel any less like a Christmas celebration because it’s not on Christmas Day.

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  • thatswhat-she

    Meg December 13, 2011, 9:35 am

    My boyfriend and I moved in together this past summer, and along with that decided to start celebrating major holidays together (it just felt wrong last year to be apart on such occasions). We live in Virginia, his parents are in Rhode Island, and mine are in WAY upstate (western, really) NY. It’s pretty much an equilateral triangle with 7-8 hrs drive between each location.

    This year, we did Thanksgiving with his family (his high school reunion being the day after the holiday made that decision easy), will be doing Christmas with mine, and are then hosting Easter for both sides at our place. We did the whole “Christmas morning” tradition with his family the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with stockings and all.

    I’m not sure what the plan will be for next year- my high school reunion is next thanksgiving weekend, but I’d have a really hard time not doing Christmas with my family (while his is used to moving it around every year). Honestly, even though I’m not too attached to Thanksgiving, it was tough to do that without my family- and I can at least look forward to seeing my them soon! I’m sure he’ll miss his family for Christmas just as I did for Thanksgiving, but there is no perfect solution. It’s part of being an adult.

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  • avatar

    Ktfran December 13, 2011, 9:37 am

    LW-

    I agree with Wendy. And to supplement her advice, this is what I did with my ex fiance and it worked for us . . .

    We both loved Christmas with our immediate families. His lived in the same town as us. Mine lived 1800 miles away. Christmas was the only holiday I made sure to fly home for. He wanted to stay in town with his family because his sister was always flew home. We both understood that our own family traditions were important to the both of us. So, before I left town, we had our own little Christmas at my apartment. Also, his parents, brother and I had a Christmas dinner before I left as well and exchanged presents. My fam sent presents to him. Then, I left and had my Christmas. We were planning on doing this once married as well. Like I said, it worked for us. Now, once kids would have been involved, things would have had to change and compromises would had to be made. But until then, we didn’t see the big deal about spreading out the holidays. Also, I should add we were in our mid 20s at the time.

    I get that most everyone wants to spend the actualy holiday with their significant other, but I’ve read other stories where this has worked, celebrating with the SO a few days before or after. Why does Christmas always have to happen on the 24th/25th?

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    • avatar

      Kerrycontrary December 13, 2011, 6:56 pm

      I think that this is a really good idea. Last year my boyfriend and I went to our college alma mater, got a hotel room, and exchanged presents there. We got to go out to our favorite bars and eat at our favorite places from college. It was OUR christmas. This year we are visiting with family because we are trying to spend more time with them (neither of us lives in the same state as our families), but yours is a really great idea.

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady December 13, 2011, 9:38 am

    LW, my parents had the same problem when we moved away from the hometown they’d always lived in to a few hours away, and then my dad’s parents moved an hour and a half in the other direction. My grandmother – my dad’s mom – came up with the most brilliant solution: the Saturday before Christmas, we would drive to her house and do Christmas with that side of the family. It was so fun and such a great tradition, we started doing Thanksgiving with her, too, and my mom’s family was totally fine with it because they got us for Christmas day. And then, instead of cooking for both Thanksgiving AND Christmas, she called one year and asked if we would be terribly offended if she ordered pizza for Christmas. No one was – in fact, when she died in 2008, we carried on the tradition and still do Christmas pizza at my cousin’s. It’s one of my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays. Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean a different way to do things wouldn’t be just as fantastic.

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    • avatar

      ForeverYoung December 13, 2011, 11:19 am

      I love that attitude and completely agree! Flexibility and making new traditions is half the fun!

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        Painted_lady December 13, 2011, 2:21 pm

        It’s so great – everyone brings a side dish or drink mixers and we munch and gossip and drink cosmos or peppermint martinis and razz each other. By then everyone’s sort of Christmas-ed out, so it’s very laid back. It was great with my grandmother because she was one of those people who’s on everyone’s list of favorite people, so now one of the Christmas traditions involves telling funny stories about her, like the time she took on a sledding hill with her handbag arranged just so on her lap and probably could have balanced a book on her head, or one Thanksgiving where she had been reading a book that had a funny bit about Viagra and she got so tickled when she tried to read it to us she couldn’t finish the story. Everyone on the other side of the family gets so worked up about Christmas it’s sometimes a bit overwhelming to try and enjoy, so it’s nice to have a way to celebrate that involves zero stress.

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  • avatar

    Ktfran December 13, 2011, 9:44 am

    Another idea. This is another compromise, but sorry LW, you’re going to have to compromise in this situation.

    If you do the cooking. How about you cook on the 23rd. Celebrate the 24th with your family and spend Christmas day with his? Win/win in my opinion.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com December 13, 2011, 9:45 am

    LW, in case no one else takes the time to say so, I am seriously impressed that you do all the cooking for both holidays at age 22!

    No doubt you do this because there isn’t someone else who is ready and able to do it and because you want to ensure that the family has a “proper” holiday meal. That is absolutely commendable and it makes me smile. And I feel sure that your family will be happy to return that generosity by releasing you to be with your boyfriend and the expanding sense of family that you are in the process of creating with him.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom December 13, 2011, 9:47 am

    Once you get married your husband will be your immediate family and your current family will become your extended family. Your relationship with your husband will be primary and so come before the relationship with the extended family. That means you figure out how to spend the holidays with your husband, and children when you have them, and you work out arrangements with both extended families. It would be nice if you got every member of your family to each make or purchase one dish for Christmas dinner this year. They need to start practicing stepping up to the plate and contributing in a meaningful way to their own holiday. Have at least one other person help with the entree/entrees this year so that they know how to prepare them. You should make sure others know how to do this so that if you couldn’t be there for them they could still have a Christmas dinner. Even if you weren’t married you couldn’t assume you could always do all of the cooking. I had the flu one year for Christmas and my son had the chicken pox for Christmas. Last year my mom was hosting Thanksgiving dinner and she passed out just after getting out of bed. My brother cooked the turkey and stuffing for her and they moved the dinner to my aunts house while my mom stayed home in bed. Things happen that are beyond your control and that means that the other members of your family need to be able to help in a meaninful way. Everyone should be able to provide at least one side dish and one dessert even if they buy them the day before at the grocery store. If you have traditional family foods that are meaningful to your family and it just wouldn’t be the same dinner without them then get together with other family members ahead of time and teach them how to prepare one of those family dishes. After you’ve done this a few times you can have a number of family members, both men and women, prepare the important foods. That’s how traditons are maintained. Each generation has to learn to prepare the food if they want the tradition to continue.

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  • avatar

    Allison December 13, 2011, 10:02 am

    Just look at what other couples do, like your parents or friends or other relatives. My dad and stepmom usually go to her family’s house on Thanksgiving day, but spend Christmas with his family and then have a mini-Christmas with her family the next weekend. Sometimes it changes up because he has a job that requires him to be on-call, so they have to stay home that year. One friend goes to her fiance’s family’s Christmas on Christmas Eve, and then they spend Christmas day with her family. You’ll work it out eventually. You just have to be willing to compromise.

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  • avatar

    MissDre December 13, 2011, 10:21 am

    Every second year, my brother and his wife drive 7 hours away to be with her family. So on the year they’re gone, we usually celebrate all together a few days, maybe even as much as a week before Christmas. It’s just as wonderful to have a big meal, drinks, laughter and presents on the 20th as it is on the 25th 🙂

    This year, I’m spending Christmas Eve with my boyfriend’s family and Christmas Day with my family. Luckily our families are only an hour apart.

    You can make it work, LW 🙂

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  • avatar

    Amy December 13, 2011, 10:22 am

    I’m sure if you just tell your family (next year), “this year I can’t do all the cooking for these reasons,” they will be fine with it. Probably more fine with it than you think. And if they aren’t fine with it, then they don’t deserve to have you make all the food for them anyway! So what’s the harm? One member of my family does all the cooking, starting days ahead of time, but for the most part it’s self inflicted. We would all be happy to do the cooking and let her rest, but she is convinced that isn’t the case so she martyrs herself. It sounds like this part of the problem is more your reluctance than your family’s, since you didn’t mention how they feel about the whole cooking thing.

    When I started splitting holidays with my boyfriend, I thought my family would be upset, but they just shrugged and said “okay,” because that’s what happens when you grow up. My boyfriend’s family lives 3 or 4 hours away (depending on where we go). We spend Christmas eve with my family, then on Christmas morning, we get up very early and drive to his family’s house and spend the night there. It’s not a big deal, it’s actually fun because we get to spend several hours alone together during the drive.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B December 13, 2011, 10:37 am

    My boyfriend’s family lived in LA, while mine is from San Francisco. If we wanted to spend the holidays together, we had to divvy them up. Both of our moms were upset about it, but they learned to deal, and so will your family.

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  • avatar

    sarolabelle December 13, 2011, 10:52 am

    Why do you need 24 hours to cook a meal? Seriously, it takes 3-5 hours to cook a turkey, then you have about an hour or two for each side dish. I’ve never heard of 24 hours of cooking.

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    • avatar

      sarolabelle December 13, 2011, 10:53 am

      Also, you are only 22. I’m sure not less than 10 years ago you weren’t cooking. Tell whoever cooked before to cook!

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      • avatar

        savannah December 13, 2011, 12:21 pm

        22 is pretty young to be cooking holiday meals. Which is why its likely that the person who cooked before is no longer around.

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      MissDre December 13, 2011, 11:54 am

      There is a LOT of preparation involved. I always help my mom out before Holiday dinner. It’s a shit-load of work for one person to do in a single day so we always start preparing the day before and refrigerate everything until it’s ready to go into the oven.

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    • avatar

      Rachel December 13, 2011, 5:23 pm

      Agreed. I baked a turkey, two casseroles, rolls, and profiteroles all by myself for the first time this year. It’s more time-consuming than labor-intensive. I suppose it depends on how many people you’re cooking for. The way I see it, the more people one is hosting the less food they should have to prepare. If there are 20 people eating, it makes sense for at least a few of them to bring something already made and ready to serve (like rolls or a dessert or a side), right?

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  • bagge72

    Bagge72 December 13, 2011, 11:01 am

    I think you will notice that next year both sides of your families will be willing to make compromises so they can both see you guys, and to make that work you are going to have to make some compromises too with regards to the amount of work you put into your dinner, and you are going to have to figure out what to give up. At 22 this might be easy for you now, because it is what you are used to and you never had to worry about somebody else, but as you get older your priorities have to change, and if your loved ones can’t help you with that then you almost have to threaten them a little bit, and tell them that if no one wants to help you out then they wont be having dinner, because you will be with your boyfriends family.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark December 13, 2011, 11:53 am

    Okay. Seriously, somebody else needs to learn how to cook in your family, LW. What are you — an indentured servant? Look,you seems to be USING your need to cook absolutely everything as an excuse so you won’t be the one to compromise any of YOUR family time… I mean, your husband doesn’t cook! Moreover, even inviting his family over would be an insult!!

    Wait… An insult. Really?

    C’mon! Drop the act…because, frankly, I’m not buying it… Especially since you’re laying it on a bit thick. I mean. if you REALLY want to compromise, you have to be willing to actually, you know, do it. This whole letter is more of a reason of why you can’t. I think you were expecting us to tell you that since you are so VITAL to your family, your hubby-to-be should accept that he is going to have to all but abandon his over the holidays… Sorry to disappoint you, but most of aren’t don’t seem to be doing that…

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    • avatar

      Mwalt December 13, 2011, 12:07 pm

      Amen, BGM. I think LW needs to think about what she really wants. Does she want to spend the holidays with everyone? Becuase that means she’s going to have to compromise. SHE is. If she wants everyone to come to her, that’s not really the same thing, is it? I agree completely with that you are saying…it’s good this is a year away so she can get her motives right.

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl December 13, 2011, 12:26 pm

      Yeah, come on, how is it remotely offensive to invite your bf’s family over for the holidays? I don’t get it. I also don’t buy that she cooks HARD CORE for 24 hours STRAIGHT before each holiday and ABSOLUTELY CANNOT rearrange any of her family’s stuff to accommodate his. To me, this letter sounds like a long list of excuses for why she can’t go see her bf’s family for any holidays.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. December 13, 2011, 2:16 pm

        I had a problem with this, too. My dad is a hard-core cook and even he doesn’t do that, unless he’s brining a turkey, and then he just sticks it in a cooler.

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      • theattack

        theattack December 13, 2011, 2:55 pm

        Well, it’s the truth. You don’t have to buy it, but it’s true. This year I spent 26 hours on Thanksgiving. And when I spent Easter with my boyfriend’s family (my family doesn’t do Easter so this wasn’t an issue) I was strictly instructed by his mother to not bring anything because his grandmother is incredibly touchy and easily offended. So yeah, making a suggestion to host the holiday meal instead of her would be majorly stepping on her toes. Which is why I’m writing in for ideas. Not an excuse to get out of it.

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      • bagge72

        Bagge72 December 13, 2011, 3:49 pm

        I would just like to know how much food takes that long to cook? As far as I can see you put the turkey in, and check on it every couple of hours, not sure really what else takes as long to cook? Not trying to say it didn’t happened, just would like to know what you are making that does take that long? If it is stuff like homemade stuffing, and cranberry sauce, or pies it might be better to start those the day before, and spread some of this stuff out. If you do make absolutely everything maybe your family feels left out? I know my mom used to make everything, but then one of my aunts started to complain, because she wanted to helpout, and she also felt that she wasn’t allowed to take as many leftovers home, because she wasn’t the one doing the cooking so now my mom has a bunch of people bring stuff over.

        It is hard for me to give you any information on what to do, because I don’t cook any of those dinners. I know for thanksgiving we do go down the cape for my fiance’s family for dinner, and then go to my parents for the after party for cookies, pies, wine, all of that good stuff. For Christmas we do our own gifts Christmas eve morning, and then that night we go to my parents house so she can open her gifts from my family, and then go to my fathers side of the family for a nice dinner and a visit from Santa Claus, we spend the mornings separate at our on families houses opening gifts, and then I go to her families house for a dinner and I open presents from her family. Not sure how that is going to change once we are actually married.

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      • theattack

        theattack December 13, 2011, 4:25 pm

        Oh, my 26 hours was definitely spread out over two days (I guess mathematically it has to be). I do anything I can the night before, like deviled eggs, pies, cakes, etc. We stick the turkey in early in the morning of Thanksgiving, and we do homemade stuffing and about fifteen different side dishes. When we’ve tried to cut back on some of it, someone always gets their feelings left out because everybody else had their favorite dish and theirs was forgotten that year. It’s not very fair, but a lot of my extended family is pretty poor, and it’s really the only time of the year they get to eat something besides hot dogs and boxed macaroni. So it’s worth it to make someone else feel special and get something they never get any other time. Basically, over the years we’ve tried various different things with reducing the food, and we’ve gotten to where we are now. And I’m very glad to do it. It’s the only time of the year the family stops thinking about all the bad stuff and just appreciates each other. It’s truly not an issue to me that I cook the holiday meals. It makes me happy to make other people happy, and it’s also a rite of passage for a young 20-something in my family. I’ve just got to figure out how to balance it with his family and their expectations too! And I really like the idea of moving the holidays to different days that some commenters have suggested!

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        Rachel December 13, 2011, 5:37 pm

        Is there any way your extended family members could possibly afford to purchase what it takes to buy the ingredients for one of those side dishes and prepare it themselves to bring along to the dinner? It might be nice if you could provide them with neatly written recipe cards with their favorite one this Christmas. That way, they’ll have a whole year to save up and practice and take some of the burden of preparing the dinner solo off of your back so you can spend time with your boyfriend’s family.

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      • theattack

        theattack December 13, 2011, 5:52 pm

        Maybe. But my aunt and uncle are about to lose their trailer and may be homeless soon, with two little children. (By homeless, I mean that my parents will let them live with them). I mean, they are truly poor. It’s a good idea for in general, but things are really so so tight for them. I guess this is going way beyond the point of my letter and into my family dynamics and stuff, but oh well. As Wendy says, it’s about to get personal.

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        Rachel December 13, 2011, 6:55 pm

        I really feel for you. It sounds like your family has fallen on hard times. It’s very thoughtful of you to want to take care of all the holiday preparations, but if they’ll be moving in to live with your parents, then it sounds like there’ll be even more hands in the kitchen who’ll be able to help out. You could definitely show them how to prepare some of these dishes this year so they’ll remember for next year, so you won’t be so swamped. And really, if you’re just hellbent on cooking for your entire family by yourself, I’d just encourage you to be open to switching the day that your family celebrates to a week ahead, that way you can comfortably make both celebrations. My husband’s extended family celebrates Thanksgiving a week before the holiday so they can meet up then, and still spend Thanksgiving with the rest of their family. My maternal family celebrated Christmas this past weekend. It’s a part of growing up and sharing families.

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      • JK

        JK December 13, 2011, 5:38 pm

        Maybe,(not sure if it would be feasible), you could ask (maybe via email) the people that usually go to these meals, for everyone to tell you what dish they HAVE to have. I know maybe this way you end up with everyone asking for a different one,but it might be wrth a shot.

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      • katie

        katie December 13, 2011, 8:08 pm

        from the sounds of it, and im not trying to be mean- but there will never be a compromise until you stop doing all the cooking…

        im a chef, i totally get the love of all the work- and i also get 26 hours of cooking, lol, thats easy to do if you pick the right things to make.

        but, a compromise means that you take one thing and another different thing and merge them to make a third thing. so, your one thing is that you cook the meals on holidays. the different thing is that you are now wanting to also see your future husbands family as well. so, a new thing has to be born from the merge of those- and that means you will have to give up some aspect of cooking the meal…

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  • avatar

    Renee December 13, 2011, 11:58 am

    In regards to the LW doing all the cooking, maybe she picked it up when one parent passed away unexpectantly and the other parent is disabled. Right now it seems LW lives at home with her family, because she has not yet moved in with her boyfriend.

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    • JK

      JK December 13, 2011, 12:29 pm

      she does say “my parents´ house” though, so it sure sounds like they´re both alive and she lives elsewhere.

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      • theattack

        theattack December 13, 2011, 2:48 pm

        (LW) Right. I drive three hours to my parents house the night before Thanksgiving and start cooking before I even bring in my bags. To clarify, my mom knows how to cook. She’s just at a point where she can’t really handle it anymore, but she’s stubborn enough that she would try and most likely injure herself. I know that not everyone has families like mine, but we’re a small town rural Southern farm-type family, and it’s my role to step in and cook just as much as it is to take care of a family member after surgery or send flowers to a funeral.

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    Mwalt December 13, 2011, 12:03 pm

    How about letting everyone know now, a year in advance, that you won’t be cooking but once every other year, so you can enjoy the holidays yourself? Just a thought… 🙂 Good luck!

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  • avatar

    savannah December 13, 2011, 12:18 pm

    Ah holidays. Just be happy you celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas because as someone whose family and BF’s family (and all extended families) only celebrate Thanksgiving it gets a lot tricker. Yikes. Thinking about next year already gives me a headache.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl December 13, 2011, 12:46 pm

    As Wendy and all the other commenters have said- you just have to compromise.

    My BF of 4 years and I have a complicated situation. We both now live in FL, His parents and paternal grandparents in NC, his maternal grandparents in SC, and my extended famliy in PA. To make things even more complicated, our anniversary is one week before Christmas. Also, New Years Eve is by far my favorite holiday of the year and my family owns a restaurant that is open on Thanksgiving.

    So Thanksgiving is rotated yearly between his NC and SC families. My family doesn’t celebrate it so not seeing them isn’t a big deal. We’ll be going to SC to celebrate Christmas with that side of his family the weekend before Christmas. Which means we won’t be celebrating our anniversary on the day, but that’s okay. He’ss going to NC and I’m going to PA for the actual Christmas Day. He’s coming up to PA for NYE and to celebrate Christmas with my family. This is the last year we’ll be spending Christmas apart…I imagine next year we’ll to Thanksgiving with his family, Christmas in SC and than Christmas Day with my family. But it really is all about talking and working out a compromise that’s best for you and your BF. Changes are someone will be frustrated with you, but you can’t please everyone.

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    SherBear December 13, 2011, 1:09 pm

    Maybe I’m reading into this wrong but it strikes me as odd that she can’t go with his family since her family “will be grieving the one year anniversary of her grandmother’s death”. Would that really be LW’s grandmother’s wishes to have the family grieving over her passing during the holidays? Or would she perhaps be joyous that LW wants to celebrate a new birth with her bf?

    This reminds me a lot of my mother’s family where “image” and “loyality” are EVERYTHING and you do not go against the family. I’m sure it has been engrained in LW’s head that the holiday meals will now be her “job” as that is how it will be done. I have had some much tension with my family since I do not blindly follow and do what I’m told. My mom’s entire family (and my sister) blindly worship my grandmother and see her as the ultimate role model and savior…my dad and I are the only ones who see her for what she is – a control freak who verbally and emotionally abuses my mother. My mother’s “image” took a huge blow when I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving and stayed in my city and celebrated with friends. Nevermind that the last time I saw my mother she exploded into a rage at me and that I haven’t spoken to my sister in almost a year, it’s a holiday and I’m supposed to celebrate with the family and enjoy it!

    My advice to LW is that you can start your own traditions! If you don’t want to cook for your family on one holiday one year that is perfectly fine!! You are your own person and do not let your family guilt trip you into doing your “job”. They can either figure out how to cook on their own or go out to eat. If they insist on having you cook and you WANT to cook for them (remember, that is your deicision) then they will have to be okay with the date and time when you choose to serve it. That means they might get a toned down Christmas Eve dinner one year (with maybe 2-3 hours of work put into it instead of 24 hours) instead of the grand Christmas Day feast. Also – potluck style meals are excellent…those who can’t cook can pick up a prepared dish. I’m sure someone can figure out how to make a green bean casserole.

    Maybe I’m way off base on my assessment of your family, but if you come from a controlling one like mine it’s okay to spread your own wings and live your own life! They will survive one day without you.

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    ApplePancakes December 13, 2011, 1:28 pm

    This has always been a big issue in my relationship too. We’ve been together for four years and are now engaged, but we’re still working on getting this right. Our families live 5 minutes from each other, but trying to convince them all to merge the holidays has been a nightmare. It’s taken us a while to realize it, but in the end, Wendy is right, these are the kind of compromises people talk about when it comes to joining your life with someone else’s. Feelings might be hurt, traditions are going to change or stop altogether, it might be hectic, but when you and your significant other are ready to join your lives together, you realize that the upside to all of that change is creating new traditions that are unique to you as a couple.

    I understand the “control” bit too… I personally love to cook and hold the reigns of the holiday feasts, but so do the mom’s in our families. I understand that for myself and others, preparing a feast that is central to the celebration for the family is a huge pleasure. Knowing how much I love it, I can’t deny someone else who loves it too. Merging our lives has also meant that I have to let that go sometimes and we take turns hosting. Taking turns has proved to be a good thing because I can focus all of my cooking planning/energy on one holiday, and relax for the other, while someone else gets to enjoy the spotlight of playing hostess.

    It can be done, but the most important thing to realize is that as you get older and start your own family, your holidays will never be quite the same as they were when you were younger. But, by incorporating new and old traditions, you will be creating the foundation for the same type of nostalgic memories you had, but for your own family to look back on when you’re even older.

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  • avatar

    Mel December 13, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I agree with everything everyone has been saying. Marriage (and even long term relationships) are about compromise. You will not always get what you want or get maintain all of your traditions. What counts is that you find a way to work it out with your significant other and families that strives to help each of you preserve the aspects that are most important to you and to be fair to both families as best as possible. It’s not rocket science that you can’t be in two places at once, and even if your families are a little disappointed at first I promise they will get over it.

    Also, it is not true that you have to do all of the cooking that day or even the day before. My family routinely bakes/cooks many of the key dishes for holidays WEEKS in advance and then freezes them to cut down on the work that must be done. And for every holiday, every family unit is expected to bring food, so that lessens the work on the hosts. You don’t have to be a great cook to contribute a store-bought pie or bottles of wine.

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  • Lili

    Seattle _lili December 13, 2011, 2:00 pm

    I don’t mean to be off topic, but I was wondering if anyone has some useful advice on how to get better at setting boundaries? I think getting better at that can help the LW, but also I’m in need of some tips as well 🙂

    Thanks!

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      SherBear December 13, 2011, 2:47 pm

      Ugh, I have to set tons of boundaries with my family (my mother especially). The key is to know what you will and will not put up with and most importantly why – the why will help you when you feel like an asshole puting your foot down. You have to be able to put yourself first and the other person’s feelings second. It might make you feel like you are being selfish – but anyone that needs boundaries set on them is very selfish themself.

      For me I have had issues of my mother transfering her stress onto me. She unloads all of her issues onto me which makes her feel better but makes me feel weighted down. She has been doing this my entire life and with the help of my therapist I have put my foot down. If she brings up a topic that I don’t want to discuss I will tell her I am not the one to discuss that with. She of course will try to push the conversation and I will have to immediately shut her down and end the conversation. It’s all about transference of energy, if she wants someone to unload to she can get her own therapist.

      Just to give example, I was walking to my therapist one day after work and talking to my mother on the phone (I still talk with her regularly, but stick with superficial conversations). She does this thing were she puts out loaded statements and try to gets me to react and ask her more questions. Since I don’t take her bait she has to try harder. On this particular day she had recently come back from visiting her mother and during that time had lunch with some long lost cousin. My mother starts the conversation with “maybe we shouldn’t discuss this now since it’s such a heavy topic” and then goes silent waiting for me to tell her she can keep talking. So she starts telling me about all these horrible things that happened this woman who I have never met or even heard of before so I told her “I don’t think I’m a good person to tell these things to” and “I actually do not want to know about her past abusive relationships”. My mother does not listen to what I say and goes “well her first husband broke her jaw and then she was raped…” at this point I firmly put my foot down and ask “what part of I do not want to hear these details do you not understand???” In her mind I was a complete bitch because I raised my voice but in reality I had given her multiple cues and warnings that this conversation needed to end. I should note that a big reason I am in therapy is because I was kidnapped and raped at 13 and my parents try to pretend that it didn’t happen and didn’t have any lasting effects on my life.

      It’s a pain in the ass having to set boundaries, but you will be so much more emotionally healthy because of it!!

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        Painted_lady December 13, 2011, 5:05 pm

        I second you on the “why” part of setting boundaries. My brother throws all sorts of tantrums around the holidays, and aside from this being completely unpleasant in and of itself, I hate that my parents drop everything to rush to the aid of/calm down/fight with my brother who cares not a bit about them, while I’m a lot of times left to fend for myself or plans are changed or canceled entirely to accommodate my brother. If they won’t set boundaries for him, I will for them. I finally decided – and told them – that with the exception of Christmas day itself, I wouldn’t be at their house if he was there. I also told them that if he threw a tantrum Christmas day and it was tolerated, I would leave the house. I feel like a jerk, but all we do in the last few years is either deal with my brother or talk about how my parents ought to deal with my brother – as in, what they plan on doing and then never do, over and over and over. So while I can’t change whether or not they actually stick to their guns, and I can’t kick him out of their house, I can change whether or not I’m involved.

        It may be completely coincidental, but my parents finally set some major boundaries on him that render my own boundaries moot. It may just be that they’re finally fed up, but at least I made my limitations clear.

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    • Lili

      Seattle _lili December 14, 2011, 12:28 pm

      Thanks SherBear and Painted Lady! Those kinds of examples are exactly what I needed to hear and shall hopefully be able to figure out the why and formulate some effective ones soon!

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  • avatar

    heidikins December 13, 2011, 2:18 pm

    LW,

    This example isn’t necessarily like yours, I’m not talking about splitting time between in-laws/potential in-laws and your parents. But my entire childhood I had to split holidays between two parents. And it was fine. It sometimes sucked, but it was fine. Instead of alternating my Dad came up with some brilliant new solutions. The Friday after Thanksgiving we have turkey sandwiches and pie at his house. Every year. On Dec. 23rd we all go over for a party (and when we were kids we’d sleep over and open Christmas presents on the 24th, just like it was Christmas Day). That way he got the full holiday experience every year and so did my Mom. Now, as fate would have it, all my sibs are married and with kids of their own and are trying to split holidays with their in-laws. But, Friday after Thanksgiving and the 23rd of December are still my Dad’s days because he learned to compromise really really early in the game.

    Something to think about.
    xox

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  • avatar

    liza December 13, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Hey LW!

    In in no way am trying to diminish the stress you feel about this, because I know how important it is to see one’s SO during the holidays. It feels incomplete without them! However, I envy your situation – just two and a half hours away? My boyfriend of 2.5 years had to move back to England, so Christmas is complicated for us as well (mostly because the plane tickets are so *$@#*& expensive!). At that short of a distance, I am sure you can make something work, but to do so you are going to have to reevaluate what your expectations and plans are for Christmas and the holidays.

    For us, being with each other on Christmas means that one of us has to give up being with their family. Last year I was able to spend Christmas and NYE in England. This year, neither of us can afford to make the trip and have to go without seeing each other. Hopefully, he will spend Christmas with my family next year. Usually I set up the tree, decorate the house, and help my mom cook. But obviously, those plans changed when I spent Christmas with my bf’s family and my parents had to make do.

    What could you change? It might be that you cook WAY in advance and freeze the food. Or you only cook your favourite dish – maybe even nothing at all! Like Wendy said, as you grow up and start a life and family of your own, all your traditions will have to change to accommodate your new situation. This might mean having a different family member do the cooking and you just showing up for dinner with a dish or two. It might mean one of you skipping a family dinner to attend the other person’s family gathering. Maybe you could spend Christmas Eve evening at one home and Christmas evening at the other. Either way, you are going to have to give up an old tradition to make room for a new one.

    Good luck!

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  • theattack

    theattack December 13, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Hey guys, I’m the LW! I’m pretty surprised that everyone has misconstrued my letter so much to show that I’m looking for an excuse to get out of spending holidays with his family. I know that I need to compromise. I wrote in looking for ideas of how to do that. I’ve never seen how other couples do this. My dad never had a family, so that was never an issue for my parents. My only brother is not marriage material, so I’ll never really see much from there. His family is in the same situation, never having had to split holidays before. We will be the first to have to do that for both of our families. And both of our families have stayed in the same place and don’t understand leaving town to go do things like go to college or to a husband’s Thanksgiving. I truly do not know how couples divide holidays, and that’s why I’m writing in – not for permission to be a bitch. In fact, I know that his family holidays are more fun than mine, and I’d really rather go to his instead.

    And yeah, I have a feeling that most people don’t have families who are as intense around holidays as mine. But keeping up the traditions for my grandfather is important, and yes, there’s a lot of care put into making sure it all comes together. Anyway, there were a couple of people who answered my actual question. Thanks for answering, Wendy!

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    • avatar

      Matcha December 13, 2011, 2:56 pm

      Hmm. I think you just have to tell your family that you can’t be at both every year. You know it’s not possible. Other couples that live farther away to where it’s actually infeasible (cross-country) have to switch off, so just tell your family that. Can you pre-cook some dishes and just purchase a turkey? Would it be possible to bring your family over to his parents’ house and have a combined Thanksgiving if you all get married? Not sure how large your family is. My mother remarried and our families combined holidays.

      Edit: I just read that neither family wants to travel. Well, tough on them! They’re putting you in an impossible position, and I think that the result is either:
      a) You can only spend every other holiday year with them
      b) They can drive every other holiday thus spending each holiday with you but having to accept guests in their home
      c) Uh, your relationship is seriously strained?

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest December 13, 2011, 3:00 pm

      “I’m pretty surprised that everyone has misconstrued my letter so much”…silly girl! You’re a frequent commenter, you should know better 😉
      This just speaks to how much we interpret and add-in things that are not there. You ASKED how to divide holidays and how many of us actually gave suggestions?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest December 13, 2011, 3:04 pm

        I wish I could offer helpful advice, but my parents are divorced and my SO is super close with his family so I spend every holiday driving all around the county I live in to please everyone (but myself). Its my fault though, I want to see everyone too.

        This Christmas, I’m spending the morning in NY (mom/SO’s family) and flying to FL (dad) at noon. My sister from ME is flying to NY Xmas Eve, then flying to FL with me the next day. My sister from DC is doign the same and even my brother from San Fran is doing that. Can you say people pleasers! Should be interesting…

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      DramaQueen224 December 13, 2011, 3:02 pm

      I think the problem mostly came from this line, “Alternating between Thanksgiving and Christmas with each family won’t work since I do the cooking”, because in order to compromise you’re going to have to make alternating work. Like a lot of the other posters said, you can do Thanksgiving vs. the next day and Christmas Eve vs Christmas rather than Thanksgiving vs Christmas, but you simply can’t (fairly) spend all of Thanksgiving and Christmas day with your family. Unfortunately, that means you gotta give up the cooking one of those days.

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    • avatar

      Rei December 13, 2011, 3:09 pm

      I think one thing that might make things easier would be cutting back on all that cooking. Can you prebuy some of the stuff? Some grocery stores make some pretty good artisan dinner rolls. Can you enlist some cooking help? Any idiot can make mashed potatoes. Can you switch some things up so it takes less time? Like, instead of a warm apple pie you can make a cheesecake a few nights before and stuff it in the fridge. Or cut up your turkey into parts before you make it so it cooks faster.

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    • avatar

      TheGirl December 13, 2011, 4:58 pm

      I’m afraid I have to stand by my original statement. If you have that many people over and you already can’t compromise on side dishes, there’s no way everyone is going to compromise on the day. There has to be someone in the family (perhaps your non-marriage material brother) who can learn to cook these dishes. Just because your mom can’t do it anymore doesn’t mean you are the only option. Maybe one of your relatives that doesn’t have the money but has the time can come over and help if you just ask. If they really value the tradition and know they don’t have you to fall back on, they’ll make the time.

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      • theattack

        theattack December 13, 2011, 5:07 pm

        Yeah, that would be really nice if people would help. I wish I could control that. Since I can’t, I’m not going to let my grandfather have a disappointing holiday just because no one else who is able will jump in, ya know? It’s been an issue. In fact, I was absolutely furious this year that I cooked for 26 hours and then only one person volunteered to help clean up. I fumed over that for days.

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        heidikins December 13, 2011, 5:23 pm

        You have a year to share that concern with your family members. Stop fuming and start communicating. Are you the only person who is concerned with your grandfather’s feelings? Perhaps bring him with you to the boyfriend’s family. It may not be the exact traditional holiday he has had for the last however-many-years, but it would be better than him staying home alone and hungry because no one is willing to step up.

        xox

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        Painted_lady December 13, 2011, 5:35 pm

        In that case, one of the things I find works when people don’t respect your boundaries is not to give them a choice. As in, when you’re planning the meal, call Aunt Doris and say, “Aunt Doris, I was trying to plan Thanksgiving out, and I need to know what all I’m going to have to cook myself. What were you planning on bringing? Will you need the oven to warm it up? Do you need a serving spoon for it?” if Aunt Doris is actually ballsy enough to say, “Hey, theattack, we were just going to let you cook everything yourself. Sorry!” well, then you say, “I love cooking for everyone but there is no way I can do the whole damn thing myself. Again, what are you bringing?” Or if everyone’s coming in from too far to cook something ahead, my mom will do this thing on holidays where she buys the supplies and gets everyone else to pitch in cooking. People email their shopping list a week before and then the day of, we all take turns in the kitchen. So same call to Aunt Doris, just different question, and no option to weasel out.

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        Rachel December 13, 2011, 5:49 pm

        I’m sure you love your family, but it doesn’t sound like they really appreciate all your hard work if they won’t offer to bring a dish or clean up. Maybe if you leave them to fend for themselves one of these holidays while you go to spend it with your boyfriend’s family, they’ll become a little more grateful and helpful.

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        savannah December 13, 2011, 6:27 pm

        If that the case, just bring your grandfather with you to your boyfriends for the holidays. Im serious– If no one else is helping you in the cooking or cleaning up and leave and take your Grandpa, whom you really seem to care about having a good holiday, with you.

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        Rachel December 13, 2011, 6:48 pm

        SUCH a good idea!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark December 13, 2011, 6:13 pm

        As do I. I don’t think we “misconstrued” your letter. Instead, YOU wrote it in such a way that YOU made it sound exactly as we say it does. You conveniently pay lip service to wanting to compromise and then throw out a vast, insurmountable laundry list of reasons why you can’t possibly compromise. And, frankly, your further explanation actually did little to advance your cause in my eyes. (Heaven forbid there are only say, six of seven side dishes! Oh no! There MUST be all fifteen!) God forbid, somebody be left to make do without their own personal favorite side dish…

        Look, if somebody is REALLY going to get all bent out of shape simply because their one favorite side dish isn’t on the table at Thanksgiving — well, then they are missing the ENTIRE point of Thanksgiving!! No. Seriously. They are. It supposed to be about BEING with your family and actually enjoying your time together. It isn’t about enslaving the one, easily guilt-ridden member into whipping up the dinner to end all dinners. Sure, you may want to do it. But gee, maybe your husband would like to actually spend some time with you… And I mean, aside from him having to become your sous chef…

        Clearly, you are a people pleaser, theattack. And that’s just great, I guess. (Er, correction, it CAN be great. It can also be plain misery for those around you as you slavishly give to everybody else, but them… That may not seem to make much sense, but I have a good friend whose mom was so consumed with pleasing her parents, she totally ignored her own frigging kids!!)

        The bottom line is that unless you adjust your ideas here, the one person you will definitely NOT be pleasing is his husband. Because it is quite clear that when push comes to shove, it’s all about YOUR family. Not only do they deserve it so, but now they desperately need it because they apparently spend the rest of the year eating kraft cheese and macaroni. (Your list goes on and on.) I mean — if you are making the case of the most neediest, how can your husband’s family possibly compete?

        Now, that said. It’s GREAT you are open to doing a holiday for each family on different days. But to make this work, you are going to have to be willing to move YOUR families day. NOT your husband’s. This has nothing to do with pleasing your man either, or latent sexism on my part, but rather due to the fact that you can’t ask somebody else to move the dinner that THEY are hosting to fit YOUR schedule… So that means, you have to be the one who is willing to give on this issue.

        PS — Your statement below that nobody even volunteered to clean up only seals my opinion that your need to take much needed break from your family…

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    • LadyinPurpleNotRed

      ChicagoWoman December 13, 2011, 5:39 pm

      Well like other people said, you don’t have to do the holiday on the exact day. You could do Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner on a different day, especially since you’re the one to do all the cooking. You do the cooking so you get to set the parameters of when the holiday takes place. Everyone will have to deal or step up.

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        Rachel December 13, 2011, 5:52 pm

        I’m absolutely agree with this. My husband and I drive 3.5 hours to visit my family for one night and day, then drive 2 hours further to visit his parents for a night and a day, then drive 4 hours back home. It’s inconvenient, and we don’t get to see everybody on the particular holiday, but it’s better to see ALL of our loved ones than miss out on a few. We’re actually having his family over and my family’s home this year, so we don’t have to drive so far AND get to spend more quality time with both!

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    • katie

      katie December 13, 2011, 8:39 pm

      attack, your not asking for a compromise from what i have read… you are asking how to fit in seeing your husbands family while keeping all the same traditions that you have already established with your own family. thats not a compromise. im not saying that the reasons you want to keep your own traditions are bad by any means, but if you truely do want to compromise, some of those things are going to have to change. you are going to have to alternate holidays, switch the days that the holidays are celebrated on, stop cooking, something. to me, it seems physically impossible for you to still do all the things you do with your family, and be able to spend any time with your husbands family- or your husband, for that matter….

      and besides, in my opinion, the holidays should be a time of fun… so you should be able to do what you deem as fun (even if that changes year to year!) so that YOU are also happy on the holidays…

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  • Lyra

    L December 13, 2011, 5:55 pm

    Breathe, LW. Get through these holidays first, then worry about next year.

    I’m also in a LDR, and we’re on our 3rd holiday season together. When planning for the holidays, we’ve had to plan around Christmas day in order for each of us to be with our families since Christmas is an important holiday for both his and my families. We try to plan equal time where both of us will be each of our families in order for it to be fair. There’s a TON of driving involved, but it’s worked so far…should we get married someday, this plan will obviously have to change.

    My parents have something going that works very well for them. My dad’s side has a massive Christmas cookie bake the weekend before Christmas. Imagine 50 people crammed into one house, all baking at the same time. The result is literally thousands of cookies, and it is so fun! I think this year marks the 30th year the tradition has been in existence. My mom’s side, on the other hand, has their Christmas gathering the weekend after Christmas every year. It works out well because everyone is busy right on Christmas with their immediate families, and the schedule is always pretty much the same every year, so our family is able to see both sides.

    The key is compromising as many others have stated. Yes, you may have had a tradition for years in your family, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find something new that will work out.

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    Kerrycontrary December 13, 2011, 6:54 pm

    This year my boyfriend and I are being flexible about just seeing each others families around the holiday. He came to my house on thanksgiving, I came to his parents the day after. We’ll do something similar for Christmas. While this year you both are facing extenuating circumstances, maybe next year will be a little calmer and you can figure out how to alternate holidays. I’m sure he has a cousin or a sibling who spends a holiday with THEIR significant other, so his grandmother will just have to get over it every once in a while. Try not to make too big a deal out of this and realize that in the grand scheme of things missing one holiday isn’t going to make that big of a difference.

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