A million visits to Coos Bay and this was the first time JB and I took off on our own for a drive up the coast to Yachats. Oh, it’s such a beautiful area—wild and salty and glorious.

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The boys are at a great age for Christmas, and watching them open presents was an absolute joy. Man, they had a blast.

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I initially had more to this post but after an afternoon of fretting about it, I decided to do some deleting. Thank you, though, for all your comments—they have been really helpful to me.

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chelse
13 years ago

You do everything so tactful. If I wrote a post like this on my blog my Mom would be calling thinking I didn’t want to do Christmas with her! We crammed 7 Christmas’ into 3 days with our 2.5 year old and I never even had a chance to sit down and play with her and her new toys. My husband and I have been talking about how to make our little family’s Christmas special without hurting others feelings.

Christine
13 years ago

My husband and I don’t travel on the holidays. At all. We have three kids, one of whom I have to drive to her dad’s on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas Day, so that precludes any big family gatherings. (Ok, so I guess I travel a little on the holidays) Too much of a pain to drive across VA to Charlottesville deliver her, then go back across VA to come home (Richmond) or go to my mom’s (Fredericksburg) or my SIL’s (Eastern Shore). We have come to really enjoy it being “just us” over the holidays. Usually there is some “second Christmas” stuff either right after, or a few days after, the actual Christmas, for us to get together with my mom and brother, etc. That works for us. It cuts down on the zillions of gifts we feel compelled to buy, cuts WAY down on the travel and the expectation for us to be someplace other than our house, and frankly, the kids are happier. They love their grandma and their extended family, but really like being able to stay home, open presents, eat cookies, and play with their toys without having to rush out the door. Plus, I cannot imagine waking up on Christmas Eve someplace other than OUR house. The whole Santa ritual, coming down the stairs early in the morning, etc is all very important to us. We get on Skype to talk to my dad in Miami and my MIL in NC and it’s all good. Developing your own family’s traditions is a really important thing, in my opinion. :)

Kristen
13 years ago

We are going through this right now in our family in a BIG way. Two years ago, while I was pregnant with my daughter, my mother had a MASSIVE aneurysm, was in a coma for weeks, and in the hospital for months. She has since recovered…physically. But, my formerly very Martha Stewart-y mother now really doesn’t have the motivation or initiation to do much about the holidays and it’s incredibly depressing to be there. Yet, I feel like a witch for even considering not being there – how mean would I be to keep my dad and mom from seeing us at Christmas just because she’s not the same? I have *always* spent Christmas with my family.

This year, as we sat eating leftovers we found in the cupboard for Christmas dinner because my mom forgot to go to the store, and sat around the tree with basically no presents because she didn’t feel up to shopping…I really missed the fantastic holidays I grew up with and that I had hoped my daughter would also experience with my mom. I have to accept that it’s not going to happen, and my husband and I are already talking about how we’re going to deal with this next year. Do we take one for the team and deal with it? Do we stand our ground and preserve our daughter’s right to a fabulous and fantastical Christmas experience without the stress of Grandma’s brain injury?? It’s so hard.

Also, they live in Grants Pass – not too far from your holiday neck of the woods.

Ginger
13 years ago

Right now, we’re still figuring out what to do (there are 4 sets of grandparents, and they live in varying distances from 400-1500 miles from us).

But growing up, we alternated years–one year with my mom’s family, one year with my step-dads, one year at our house (usually my mom’s mom would join us those years).

The years at our house were by far my favorites. Even as a kid, I liked OUR traditions better, our way of doing everything from Christmas eve to Christmas morning to our annual Christmas day movie outing. And when I think of my favorite holiday memories, it’s always the ones at our house, not at anyone else’s.

Corey
Corey
13 years ago

I’m so curious to see what your readers say…this post is SO close to home for me. And I have yet to find an answer that makes everyone happy. We’ve tried just staying at home the four of us and then we feel kind of lonely. And we’ve tried going and seeing ALL THREE sets of grandparents. And while the 2nd option is definitely more fun when it’s all said and done…it is a BITCH getting ready for it, and DRIVING all OVER hell and back. So I’m interested to see what everyone else says…

Jen_Ann_W
13 years ago

I totally understand about the ‘weirdness,’ there’s a bit of that around our place at the holidays too. We’ve found that it’s perfectly acceptable to split the holidays up differently to find a good balance for everyone. What about spending New Year’s with the Grandparents instead, so the focus is more on spending time together in a comfortable way rather than following Christmas traditions? The anxiety levels might go down just by simply not being ON Christmas, and you can create new traditions that are good for everyone involved.

Melissa
Melissa
13 years ago

We have 2 kidlets (age 3 and almost 1) and we travelled this year but think we are going to be alternating. One year away, one year home. That way we can do our own thing at our house and then let grandma/grandpa run the show the other year.

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Ever since the kids were little, we’ve made it a rule to just do Christmas on our own. We do Christmas Eve dinner with my inlaws and some cousins and then Christmas is all our own. Sometimes we do Christmas dinner with the inlaws too. And if we see my side of the family, we go after, for the week b/w Christmas and New Years. Christmas Day is just too special to waste it dealing with other family members drama. Even if you really love them.

Sheryl
Sheryl
13 years ago

I really tried to build a bunch of traditions when my daughter was younger and frankly, a lot of them ended up being a bit PITA that made us both stressy and bitchy. She’s 13 now, and here is what we–together–have decided to stick with: we have dinner with grandma Christmas eve and she spends the night; one gift each gets opened Christmas eve; we have Christmas morning with grandma–presents and waffles. That’s it. We do other stuff that we enjoy, some of it every single year, but those three things are non-negotiable.

KA
KA
13 years ago

I don’t see anything wrong with, at this point, having your own family Christmas at your house. I mean, let’s be honest, you hold the trump card, which is the kids. I’d bet if you say you’re not traveling, at least a few people would be willing to do the driving instead, and if Christmas is at your house, you call the shots and do what you want. (500 cookies? Sure!)

Seriously, the person who controls the grandkids has the power. Don’t be a wuss, now!

squandra
squandra
13 years ago

We spend Christmas with just our immediate family, and we LOVE it. Because my husband’s busy season (18-hour days) ends Dec 24, he’s in no mood to travel for the holiday.

My family has a New Years Day tradition (gift exchange and special meal), and we do attend that. But Christmas is just us and our two pups. We don’t even do gifts, generally … Exchanging with our extended families when we *do* get together is plenty. We just make a nice meal together (did that on Sunday this year purely because we’re lazy!), take a long “family” walk, and lay around watching movies. It’s one of our favorite days of the year.

Megsie
13 years ago

Delurking to tell you that I have the same issues. When we are at my parent’s house it is THEIR HOUSE and my in-laws–it is the same. So, because of the chaos, I chose several years ago to create our own night. On December 23, it is my own little family Christmas. Our family is all close so there are no long drives, so I suppose I can do this easier than you can. I make a nice dinner, and we eat in the dining room with Christmas dishes and candlelight. The kids clear and begin the dishes while my husband and I sit and relax. Then we open our family presents under our own tree. It is my very favorite celebration. And, it is the FIRST one so the kids are really excited. Best decision I have ever made!

Melissa
Melissa
13 years ago

Both of our parents are local so we don’t have to travel. My MIL lives in assisted living facility because of MS and my FIL passed away a few years ago. So we have her over to our house Christmas Eve along with BIL’s family. We have a dinner and open family presents. She has a pretty low tolerance for the kids noise, but it’s only for a couple hours. MIL spends Christmas Day with her sister and a bunch of their friends. (No little kids) Christmas Day we have the morning to ourselves and then around noon we meet my family at the local elementary school. We are able to rent the lunchroom and gym for $50. We have Christmas Dinner and then visit for awhile. We have TONS of little kids and many many teenagers. So after everyone is done eating and visiting we play games. This year we played dodge ball and kick ball. The rules are loose and we make accommodations for ages and it’s not unusual for an adult to be playing with a toddler on their hip. On Thanksgiving we hooked up a Wii to a projector and had a Just Dance contest. We always have a lot of fun. It reminds me when we got together with our cousins growing up. My husband always says that he wishes his family had done stuff like that when he was little.

Jessica
13 years ago

This was the first year we had Christmas at home instead of at a parents and I anticipate that we will be doing Christmas at our home more often. Our parents live close so it’s not a big deal, but it’s nice to just open presents and then chill out at home. Growing up, we were always home for Christmas and I really want to do that for my kids. It will depend on how far away we live from the grandparents next year, but I am fine if it’s just the 3 of us!

Katherine
13 years ago

You know, I started to get a bit panicky when I read that it was ‘such joy’ for you to go see your grandparents every Christmas – because that was SO NOT my experience, and I refuse to make my children do it as well – but than I worry I am robbing them of this wonderful experience, because I hated it growing up.

My parents where divorced, and growing up I split Christmases (and Thanksgiving…and Easter… and July 4th) between three families – all the time, and I hated it. I hated the holidays – period – as a kid, the stress and planning and endless travel. Now, as an adult with two (almost three) small children I refuse to go anywhere for Christmas, ever. MY family is very accepting of this… my husband’s family is less so…
Still, I am so flexible with most other holidays and visits, etc – that I think they don’t want to complain…

We are in Oregon, and our families are in British Columbia, Ontario, Texas, and Wisconsin. Next year we will be in Ontario, as well – and I realize that may complicate things, but I am sticking to my guns!

Christmas Day is just us, and we have these small traditions that we have started over the years. The rest of the week may be hectic, and over-scheduled, and stressful – but Christmas Day is quiet and cozy, and perfectly wonderful. The kids are a delight, and we get to focus on each other, and, man, I hope they love it as much as I do. I am never glad it is over, and I always look forward to it the next year – and I think that is what it is supposed to be.

Erin
Erin
13 years ago

Growing up, my family usually spent Christmas Day just the four of us (and often Christmas Eve, too, though not always). Sometimes grandparents would visit us, but we rarely traveled anywhere over the holidays. We were lucky to be close enough to extended family that we could get together with them for just one evening around Christmas (usually a week or two before); it was always fun to see everyone, and we didn’t have the stress of travel.

Now, as an adult, it seems to vary every year — but one thing my husband and I have discovered is that we like hosting our parents, too, not just visiting them. Is that an option for you? Maybe the kids would be a bit calmer in their own environment, where you can maintain some of their usual routine. And it lets the grandparents off the hook for hosting, which can be exhausting on its own (though it does move that burden onto your shoulders). The grandparents could even stay at a hotel if they wanted; it would be a peaceful, kid-free haven if they get too stressed at your house. Of course, that’s a tricky thing to suggest, and every family is different.

Good luck! Family stuff like this is never easy, but I’m sure your kids will have wonderful memories no matter what.

Cara
13 years ago

I, too, am interested to see what your other commenters say. We’re seriously considering Christmas just being the 4 of us at home next year and then getting together for the “big meal” and family-togetherness shortly after Christmas. We’ve got two kids and my brother has 3 and they live 200 miles away. It’s a pain for either of us to have to travel with all our kids’ presents, so why do we do it? I’m not sure how to approach this with my parents without hurting anyone’s feelings though.

Operation Pink Herring
13 years ago

My husband and I spent Christmas at home, alone, this year. I had a small twinge of regret first thing in the morning, thinking that we should have gone somewhere to be with family… but then that passed and we had a seriously delightful time all alone, by ourselves. I’m wondering if we’ll be able to pull that off when there are kids in the picture, and therefore granparents wanting to see the kids, but MAN, it was nice. I just can’t deal with the holiday traffic and the endless hours on the NJ Turnpike.

Em
Em
13 years ago

When I was growing up, we always spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home with just our family of 5. I loved that as a kid, and plan to do the same thing with my family someday. It was so relaxing, we didn’t feel like we had to worry about entertaining anyone else. Both sets of grandparents lived about 2 hours away, and we’d always make an effort to visit for a day or two sometime around the holidays, but never on the actual holiday itself. It worked great for us.

Of course, my mother-in-law will probably have a thing or two to say about my plan to do that with my family, so we’ll see if it actually happens. Dealing with family sucks sometimes!

Courtney
13 years ago

My parents are both from the same very small town in Eastern Washington. Every year when I was a kid we’d open presents to each other on the 23rd, then drive down/ over and do Christmas Eve morning breakfast at my dad’s mom’s, then spend the rest of Christmas Eve (beginning with lunch at noon) with my mom’s side of the family (and my 8 cousins). Christmas Day was with my dad’s side of the family (with my 15 cousins).

When I was a kid, it totally rocked. Cousins, food, soda, playing pool in my grandma’s basement, more food, etc. I have no my mom- my dad- my sister- and I Christmas traditions, other than to be at my grandparents. I’m okay with that. Christmas Day is sometimes the only time I’m guaranteed to see my cousins for an entire year.

Then I met my now husband. His family is in Western Washington. In 2008 and 2009 we rotated, but saw everyone the week of Christmas. Translation: We drove 1600 miles round trip on shitty roads, crossing both the Rockies and the Cascades in 7 days, which meant 3.5 days in each place, which is totally not enough time with anyone and it totally sucked.

We stayed home this year. Invited all 3 sets of parents to come to us; no takers. Just the two of us and the dog. We rented cross country skiis and enjoyed living in Montana. It was quiet. And nice. And relaxing.

Did I miss my extended family? Of course. Did I miss the driving, the shitty roads and the drama of not really getting enough time anywhere? No.

I also realized that Christmas isn’t really the right opportunity to get the quality time with people, especially my rapidly aging grandparents, that I want. So I’ll go visit in February, by myself, without the 1600 mile road trip.

Stay home, unless the visit includes cousins.

jolie
13 years ago

I think it’s totally fine and normal to just have something for the four of you. In my family growing up, it was the five of us. Grandparents came and visited if we wanted, and larger family events were saved for Christmas Eve or the evening/day after Christmas. Do your thang!

Alissa
Alissa
13 years ago

This is the second Christmas with our cute kid, and we set the ground rules last year – Christmas morning is US and us alone. Last year everyone came to us before and after Christmas Day (they live between 5 and 9 hours away). This year we are still in the midst of the “going to see the relatives driving extravaganza” between Christmas and New Years. But having Christmas at home, with just us? Non-negotiable. It causes a few hurt feelings, as Christmas Day is also the MIL’s birthday, and the SIL’s birthday is on the 27th, so we’ve always been expected to be there. But no way. I’m not doing that to my kid. That day is for us. Our little family. End of story.

Maris (In Good Taste)
13 years ago

I think the grass is always greener. Holidays have always been just my immediate family and still are (I am still single and my brother only recently started dating a serious girlfriend and they haven’t spent holidays together yet). And I’ve always longed for groups and crowds and relatives and if/when I have my own kids I hope they’ll have the grandparents and the whole nine years, because I didn’t and feel like I missed out.

jonniker
13 years ago

We do mini visits after the holidays OR people can come to us. We stopped the whole traveling shenanigans once we had Sam, because honestly, it’s just too much, and it’s time, now, for us to focus on our own traditions as a family, in our house. Or so we figure and tell ourselves.

It’s better. It’s less stressful, it’s a lot more relaxing, and some people are pissed, but frankly, they can deal. It’s just a day. You can make a holiday happen anytime.

I’m sorry, dude. Been there.

Kirsty
13 years ago

When I was a kid, we always spent Christmas at either my grandmother’s or my aunt’s and my dream was to wake up in my own bed (not a lumpy camp bed wedged at the bottom of my parents’ bed) on Christmas morning. My dream finally came true when I was 19…
Since moving to France and having kids with a Frenchman, things have become complicated. Till last year, we alternated – one year his mother came to us (she lives in a tiny flat in Paris), the next we trekked up to Scotland to see my dad (my mum died years ago). BUT – my partner and I separated (painfully, miserably for me) in May, so things are now complicated even further: luckily, this year was a “MIL coming from Paris” year, so it actually worked quite well in a sense (I had to spend less time with my MIL from hell than ever, so I was quite content with that) except that I spent Christmas Eve totally alone, half of Christmas Day, most of 26/12, all the afternoon of yesterday (my daughter’s 9th birthday)…
Next year will be hell: I can’t imagine my ex “letting” me take the girls to Scotland as he wouldn’t see them at all (for Christmas and our elder daughter’s birthday on 27/12), but I can’t imagine depriving my dad of a “his year” Christmas… And he’s too old to travel (he’ll be nearly 81 by then) to us. *sigh*
To be honest, I would just like to have me and the girls (and either Johnny Depp or Pat Monahan, I’m not fussy) here, at home, on our own. But that’s obviously not going to happen, ever.
These holiday things are sooooo stressful… This year has been pretty much miserable and wretched and I’ll be glad when it’s all over…

TT
TT
13 years ago

Delurking to say we finally made the decision to cut the cord this year and it was fantastic. Something else to think about…at some point in the past, our parents probably had to have this same crisis (at least mine did, because I remember when we were small, making the journey, staying for days, etc. – but then it stopped) and worried about the hurt feelings, too. Would they be understanding?

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

When I was growing up, my family always stayed home on Christmas and visited with the extended family on New Year’s Day. I LOVED staying home and both my brother and I would have pitched a royal fit if my parents had tried to make us visit our relatives instead.

In fact, this very issue of Family Obligations over the Holidays was an important factor in my divorce. Not the only one, of course, but it helped to reveal deeper problems. My ex-husband absolutely insisted that we travel to see his family (which was a good 12-hour drive) over the holidays . . . he was open to the need to visit mine (also a very long drive), but he never agreed just to stay home, as I would have preferred. I told him that when we had kids, this would change bc/I wanted to have my own Christmas traditions with my own family in my own house, but this fell on deaf ears. Ultimately, it was a major deal-breaker for me, for many reasons. Result: DIVORCE.

So I think this is a very important issue and it’s fascinating to hear how other people handle it. Thanks for asking the question!

D
D
13 years ago

I feel like I can relate, even though we don’t have kids yet (just dogs), so I have it much easier. My husband and I have 3 families we’re expected to see – my mom and stepdad, my dad, stepmom, and 2 siblings, and my husband’s parents. For the last 4 years, we’ve tried to see all three families over the 24th and 25th (neither of us can really take vacation around the holidays), which has meant a lot of rushing and obnoxious driving across two states. The worst was last year when we drove 2 1/2 hrs to my in-laws’ place on Christmas day (after driving 45 minutes to my dad’s), only to have my MIL informed us shortly after we arrived that we would be driving her 40 minutes to her sister’s house (she won’t drive at night) where the extended family was celebrating. It was horrible, and we did not enjoy the holiday at all, so this year we told his parents to come to us. I know they were not thrilled about it, but they are retired and we didn’t get any time off other than the 24th, so they really couldn’t complain about it too much. Let me tell you, it was a HUGE improvement. The stress of hosting was SO worth not traveling. I say put your foot down and host next year.

Claire
Claire
13 years ago

Hi Linda,

Apricot Farts Girl here =)

We have stopped compromising. My son, boyfriend and I went to a beautiful little cottage in the Scottish Highlands for Xmas, 7 hours drive from home and family. Sure, we got guilt tripped a little but the folks soon got over it.

Sometimes you just HAVE to spend quality time together, just you and yours. It defeats the whole point of the holidays if you end up stressed and anxious.

This is the second time we have done this and it won’t be the last. We come home happy, refreshed and loving each other.

It’s not selfish to want to relish the holidays with your family doing what YOU want to do.

JMH
JMH
13 years ago

When my hubby and I got married, our first Christmas together was awful…we attend SIX separate family Christmases. We decided then and there, that Christmas Eve and Christmas morning would always be spent in our house. People were welcome to come and see us in the afternoon on Christmas Day, but that time was OURS. Thankfully, that was before we had kids, so all of the Christmas Mornings with our kids have been in our house. My family always gets together the weekend before Christmas, so we still see everyone, just not necessarily on Christmas Day. The big question for you is how does your husband feel about this? Since you go and see his family, would he be OK if he didn’t see them? Keep in mind, you can always “see” the grandparents via a video chat on Christmas Day!! Good luck and I hope you figure out what is best for all of you.

kakaty
13 years ago

Looks like my sister beat me to it. She (JMH above) made the decision easy for me. By the time I was married my parents were used to not having their adult children around for Christmas Eve/Morning and so my husband and I have almost always had a nice quiet Christmas at home. Before the kids there were times we chose to be at my parents house but it wasn’t a given or expected. Like she said, we do the major family gathering the weekend before (or after, depending on the calendar). But we have the luxury of only being 3 hours away so a weekend trip isn’t a huge undertaking.

Now, with kids – THANK GOD this is what we established as our tradition. I hear the stories of people having to not only wrap and pack and hide the “santa gifts” and take them on the road, but then having to drag them back home. And the hopping from house to house, stressing out the kids just to see everyone. Ugh – I like our little family Christmas so much more.

Rachel
13 years ago

Maybe travel every other year. Or travel for Thanksgiving some years and Christmas others. You can have beautiful traditions around just the four of you, too.

Melissa
Melissa
13 years ago

I have done the big family thing my whole life including driving 18 hours from Texas to Iowa through a snow storm with three kids under 6 crammed into the back of a small sedan. The last two years it has just been my boyfriend and I. I thought it would be weird. The weirdest part is that he likes to open gifts on Christmas Eve. No No No Christmas morning. But anyway when I go back to work on Monday morning its always refreshing to just smile and nod as I listen to tales of long drives and quirky family members.

Catherine
13 years ago

This was my first Christmas as a parent, so who knows what will happen in the future, but my husband and I are adamant about being home, just us, on Christmas Day. This year we saw his family a week before and my family a week after. I’m sure that schedule will change, but I think we’ll always be at our house on the 25th.

H
H
13 years ago

I’m not sure if this would be true for everyone, but it is for us: the actual date of a celebration is less important than you think. We have “our” small (just 4 of us) family traditional celebration on whatever day it works for us. Sometimes it is the weekend before Christmas, sometimes on Christmas Eve, sometimes on the 23rd – it doesn’t really matter because it actually feels like Christmas regardless. We work out the travel and time spent with the extended family based on whatever is going on with our schedules. Sometimes we have only a day or so, sometimes more, to spend with the extended family. I think you’ll find that as your kids age, it becomes more complicated because of their schedules (which also serve as good excuses, if need be) and this will also drive you to make some changes. I think there are ways to present these changes to your families without causing long term issues, as long as they are reasonable people. Good luck!

Maureen
Maureen
13 years ago

I haven’t read all the comments yet, but I wanted to comment right away. One of the very best things I have ever done in my life (just turned 50-yeehaw!) is to keep our Christmas celebrations exclusive to my little family. My husband, my daughter, myself-that is how we celebrate. We don’t go anywhere, we don’t do anything but have a relaxed holiday season. We have our own traditions, and I can’t tell you how enjoyable it all is. My daughter is 16 now, and she was just talking the other day how she loves the way we celebrate Christmas. I honestly didn’t feel obligated to share our holidays, because I figured my family was my priority-and what was the point if it was going to be stressful with traveling and family politics. Just my 2 cents, but I have never regretted my decision.

LizScott
13 years ago

When I was in college, I so looked forward to going home for the holidays. No, really. It was *just* my nuclear family, and there was zero hassle to it. Just us, and it was so relaxing, and fun.

I have 39 cousins. Of the families that those 39 cousins belong to, my family was the only one that didn’t live within a reasonable driving distance (Minnesota vs East Coast). My mom’s rule was simple: She didn’t travel over the holidays, but everyone and anyone was welcome to come to us. So most Christmases were just us 5, and it was so, so so SO awesome. I am VERY close with my cousins, and have found ways over the years to be close to them and be an active part of the greater family, but when it comes to Christmas, I take no part of the travel induced shitstorm that is a part of going to see them.

Now that I am married and sharing a kid (stepdaughter), I have much less say in how we do holidays, and it makes me SO sad. I really miss that feeling of looking forward to holidays, versus dreading the ups and downs of travel and being guests in people’s homes. I miss looking forward to holidays.

I guess my point to you is: I am very close to my very large family, and that happened despite the fact that we made zero effort to travel to see them during the holidays (other times, yes, of course. But not the winter holidays). As a result of not traveling, I remember holidays as a time where everyone just enjoyed having a few days off of work and school, and got to spend that time together, instead of stressed and harried and in constant motion.

JennB
JennB
13 years ago

Thanks to my husband being on the verge of a nervous breakdown this holiday, we didn’t spend it with anyone. I had to be Santa, and he spent much of The Day in bed depressed. With 2 small kids, that made for a pretty crappy day.

I’m hoping things will get better. I missed my parents over the holiday, because we were planning to see them, but they opted not to add more stress to an already tense situation.

So, I know what you mean.

Also – Christmas break? Is about to break me! When do they go back to school?

Caitlin
13 years ago

This is really hard. Both my husband’s families (divorced parents, etc) and my family are about 400 miles away. It’s not the kind of drive we can make just for a weekend (it’s 9 hours in the car each way), and plane tickets are expensive. So we’ve been compromising. We have Thanksgiving and Christmas at home, and do whatever we want to do. But the weekend before Christmas, one of my aunts has a big family party so we travel the 400 miles for a long weekend, do all our familial holiday celebrating then, and our reward is a nice quiet Christmas at home. Not everyone is crazy about it, but it’s a lot of time and money and difficulty for anyone to travel those 400 miles, and since we’re the ones who seem to get stuck doing it most often, we realized it was okay to start saying no for our wallets & sanity, and just make the one holiday trip.

That said, this year AND last year we had snow-related plane delays/disasters and I ended up in the hospital on Christmas day from being so sick & run down from all the running around we did with the families. (So much for our nice quiet Christmas.) SO! Next year we are inviting everyone to come here for Christmas, and not making the trip.
Unless my grandmother is still around, as she is getting up there. Arrgh, see? COMPLICATED!

I also want to say that I think it’s important – and so much FUN – to start making your own traditions with your family. If there’s going to be anxiety/misery if you’re there (noise! food! etc!), and anxiety/misery if you don’t go, then I say don’t go, let everyone be annoyed while you enjoy the hell out of your adorably loud kids, cookies, and turkey. Better for you to enjoy yourself and your kids at this age. (Plus, you make that trip other times of the year anyway, right? So the kids will still have great family memories.)

Lola
13 years ago

We never travel for Christmas. Thanksgiving has always been our “extended family” and “traveling” holiday. Christmas…well, Christmas to me is personal and about our own little family. My kids are about your kids ages (6, 3) and we still believe in Santa — so there are letters and reindeer food left out and cookies and milk and lots of commotion Christmas Eve (when we make the Gingerbread Houses, etc) and Christmas morning…

Hey, I got an idea. Why don’t you spend Christmas Eve + Morning at home and then Christmas Day and maybe 1-2 days after with the family? Then maybe part of your Christmas Eve/Morning can be personal and they can bring just “one or two” special toys to the grandparents house…

:o)

Lola
13 years ago

You know what, I also meant to say this — Linda, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In the end, you have to create traditions and rituals that work with YOUR family. Eventually, everyone else will come on board. My sister gave me the guilt trip from hell for not opening the gifts at midnight like we’ve always done. Whatever. I have little kids and Santa can’t come if they don’t go to sleep. I felt bad about it for a second then I decided to do my own thing.

Love you! And can’t wait for your end of the year questions. I’ve started answering them with my oldest son (now 19) and its become our little tradition.

Kym
Kym
13 years ago

Christmas is definitely for being with family for sure, but I will say in our family Santa comes to our house in VA. That is how it has been since we had kid’s. Our house, kid’s in their own beds and waking up on Christmas morning in their own house :) I let all of our family know that they are alway’s welcome to come and celebrate with us, but I tell them that Santa has to come here. Make sense?? :)

Jennifer
Jennifer
13 years ago

Growing up in Seattle, we couldn’t really afford to travel to the grandparents at Christmas (they were in Iowa and Mississippi… expensive plane flights for a family of 4). So we always had Christmas at home, slept in our own beds, had our own tree with our favorite ornaments (some of which held secret presents), got to spend all day with wrapping paper all over the floor, playing with toys, and the parents hanging around drinking coffee and eating cinnamon rolls in their bathrobes. Those were the best Christmases ever.

See if you can work out some sort of compromise with the grandparents… Thanksgiving? New Year’s trip instead? But having the excitement of Santa and Christmas and your own family fun in the comfort of your own house just seems worth figuring out some other way to satisfy the potential hurt feelings.

Cara
13 years ago

My mother simply said, clearly and unequivocally, that kids should wake up under their own Christmas tree. Anyone who wanted to come was welcome, but we stayed home Christmas day. Its easier when alot of the family is local, I’ll admit. We announced the same rule shortly after we got pregnant. Christmas here, but we’ll be going to my in laws for New Years. And, of course, they are welcome here if they’d like.

anonymous
anonymous
13 years ago

I grew up with a large, close family, and we managed to celebrate with siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Yes – we had to travel to make it happen.

Now, a generation later, we still make it happen. The travel is not enjoyable, but sharing holiday with our clan makes it all worth it. We do this the week before Christmas, by the way.

It looks like most of your replies are to stay home, the four of you; that’s ok, but I can never trade the many years and many generations of family that we and our kids are acquainted with.

Gen
Gen
13 years ago

BLARG. Ok, so it’s great to hear what everyone else has to say, and also great to know you’re in a little bit of hell too because OH MY SWEET GOD I AM REALLY STARTING TO HATE THE HOLIDAYS. And we don’t even have kids yet.

Here’s the thing: I think Christmas should be low-key, at home. My home. That’s how I always had it, and that’s how I liked it. I don’t want Christmas to be miserable–that’s what Thanksgiving is for. Christmas is all about my own little family unit’s selfish joy, and staying in jammies all day if we wanna, or getting sloshed on whisky sours if we wanna, or wearing our gifts in inappropriate combinations if we wanna. It’s not about hearing about how terrible it is that we’re not religious. It’s not about having to grit my teeth as my family fights. It’s not about having to grit my teeth as his family says something about how the world has gone to shit. Christmas is just…for fun. Nobody is gonna take that from me. Sure, the holidays are for family. The family you were born into, or the family you’ve chosen in your friends, or the family you’ve made with the one you love. Pick one.

And you can always have a Christmas-y thing in person in advance or a few weeks after the holiday, or Skype with people, if they’re cool and tech-savvy like that. It’s just a day. If my need to celebrate one day the way I want to overshadows a whole year of my being awesomely accommodating and sweet, well…that’s someone else’s problem.

Thanksgiving…Thanksgiving…I would so love to pull the same thing on Thanksgiving but everyone else is telling me that Thanksgiving is especially made for grinning and bearing it. I’m still not buying it completely.

And 5 days? Too much. 2.5 days, max.

Gen

Ashley
13 years ago

We do a bigger get together every few years or more. It’s just too insane otherwise. It was just the four of us this year, we didn’t go anywhere, no one came here. We watched movies, ate, played, and napped. These are my personal favorite years, just us.

Christina
13 years ago

Both of our familes live far away (Seattle area and Western Canada). We decided once we had kids we were always going to celebrate the holidays on our terms and everyone was invited to do that on our turf if they made that choice, the door is definitely open.

We travel to see them in the spring/summer months when there is no holiday pressure.

I read once that visiting family around the holidays is much more stressful and not as much fun because of the stress, the indoor aspects of most locations (winter time and the holidays tend to mean being together inside a house a lot), money/cost issues and the challenge of doing stuff others want to do versus as you suggested your own traditions.

We love that we mostly have the holidays to ourselves with our own silly traditions and meals and sitting around in ugly pajamas all day and maybe not brushing our teeth till well past due ;) At any rate, I can see why people tend to do visits over the holidays. It can feel lonely at times especially initially when we were younger but as time has passed we know we are happier and less stressed and I know my kids will have happy memories of our time with our families as well as the holidays. The end!

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

Our Christmases are pretty much the same every year. We have the Lindgren Family Christmas on Christmas Eve with my Father in-law’s side of the family. Then on Christmas day we go over to the in-laws and my parents meet us over there for presents. The furthest we ever have to drive is Rhode Island, about an hour and a half. Usually my Husband has to work Christmas Eve so Eric and I get stuck going to the Lindgren Christmas. The in-laws live only 20 minutes away too so we never have to do much traveling.
This year Eric took it upon himself to get up at 4am and open ALL of his presents without us. We were so upset with him.

Shawna
13 years ago

We do:
Dec. 23rd – brunch at my dad’s fancy club
Dec. 24th – pick the kids up early from care, chill out and make cookies for Santa
Dec. 25th – open stockings and presents at home when the kids wake up, then head to my mom’s/father in-law’s (SO handy on holidays that they’re married to each other) where we open a second set of stockings and presents and have a big brunch (cooked by my grandmother), chill out and cook until we all do the big Christmas dinner
Dec. 26th – head to my dad’s mid-afternoon for another round of presents and dinner
Dec. 27th – my sister in-law’s family arrives for a several-day-long visit

I don’t forsee this changing until my grandmother is no longer around/able to participate.

Thank God that all the people we go see are local and the out-of-towners come to us.