Holidays can be a challenge as relationships become more serious. You would like to be together with your significant other, but also have family obligations. Maybe you’ve never met your significant other’s family, and this could be the first opportunity to meet them. Or now you’re married and need to determine who will get your attention for each holiday. How do couples decide where to spend the holidays?
Between Thanksgiving and New Years, my family can get together an average of 3-4 times for big holiday meals. For the first few years I dated Mr. E, the only holiday he would spend with my family was Christmas Eve. Primarily because my Italian family does the traditional Seven Fishes dinner, Mr. E loves seafood, and his family wouldn’t start their Christmas celebrations until Midnight Mass. But once we were officially married, our attention was pulled in multiple directions.
That first year we were married, we celebrated 2 Thanksgivings (Thanksgiving Eve/Thanksgiving Day), 3 days of Christmas dinners (Christmas Eve through the day after Christmas), and a New Years dinner with my family. By January 2, we were tired of eating!
Over the years we have done our best to space out the celebrations. Doing Thanksgiving with one family a week later. Celebrating Christmas Eve with my family, and Christmas Day with Mr. E’s family. Hosting Christmas Eve to introduce Mr E’s family to our Italian tradition – and try not to gross anyone out in the process with the insane amount of food!
With Mr E as the oldest of 3 boys, all the men in the family married women with strong family holiday traditions. As a result, it has become even more challenging to get together on holidays with families spread all over NJ and PA. In the short time we have been married, Mr E lost both of his parents. This by no means makes the holidays any easier emotionally. And without my in-laws around to bring all the men home, the challenge of spending time together increases.
This year, to alleviate the stress of dividing up time among families, traveling all over, and overeating at multiple large family dinners, Mr E and I have come to our own solution. This year we are proposing Enrightmas, a special family holiday to be spent with his brothers, their wives and kids, and to be celebrated nowhere near the “Holiday Season”. We have not settled on a month/day yet, and perhaps when they read this post it will be their first time hearing about it. But it has gotten to the point where enough is enough with the celebrations. We have decided to give the rest of the year some holiday love and an excuse to get together without the pressures and insanity of the holiday season.
Our solution may be a more extreme one. Curious to hear how other couples handle spreading their time among family, I reached out to some fellow Registered Dietitian Nutritionists to get their take on where they decide to spend the holidays.
Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, Family Nutrition Expert & Founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. (@):
Christmas isn’t a big celebration with my family but Thanksgiving is because we love to eat. However, my husband’s family makes a huge deal out of Christmas and there are 23 people and 7 dogs celebrating and sleeping under one roof. So my husband and I go to my family’s house for Thanksgiving and his family’s house for Christmas. My parents now come to the in-laws’ house for Christmas, too! We’ve merged the families and, surprisingly, everyone gets along fabulously.
Amy Baertschi, MS, RDN, Green Eyed Nutrition, LLC, A Fresh Look at Everyday Eating. (@):
Always carve out alone time for each other and for your kids. You do not have to spend every second with your extended family. Go for walks around the neighborhood. Reserve a night that it’s just you two for dinner and you join the rest of the family for dessert.
Karla Moreno, MDA, RD, Eat. Simple. Healthy. (@):
Deciding where to spend the holidays isn’t always an easy decision. For my boyfriend and I, my Hispanic heritage gives us a bit of an advantage since we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. Spending time with my family on Christmas Eve allows us to spend time with his family Christmas day, which includes a lot of fun games! It’s nice to know that this arrangement has worked for us thus far.
Kathy Brown, RD, LDN, Live Life. Love Nutrition. Practice Yoga. (@):
My husband and I also have 3-5 Christmases to attend, and are completely spent by the end of it all. Last year, we talked it over with some family members and decided to do Christmas with some of them after the New Year. This way, we could still enjoy that time, but not all at once. Another thing that worked out in our favor is that many of our family members have several Christmas parties to attend as well, so many understand the conundrum. In this sense, we will eat with one family and not the other (if we have conflicting parties on the same day) or have dinner with one and dessert with another. Either way, as long as the rest of the family knows your plans for the day, they are more likely to be okay with it.
Jamie M. Marchetti, MS, RDN, LD, Clinical Dietitian, Nutrition & Wellness Blogger, and Freelance Writer (@):
When it comes to spending time with our respective families, my significant other and I are in a flexible situation. My family does not focus on food for holiday meals; rather, we view holidays as more of an opportunity to spend time together. Since my significant other and I live closer to my family, we are able to spend that time with my family more regularly. Holidays are much more important to my significant other’s family, so we partake in larger celebrations when we visit his relatives. My significant other has also lived away from his family for several years, so his parents are very willing to accomodate and adjust celebrations to be on days when he is home if he will miss the actual holiday.
How will you and your significant other divide time among each other and families this holiday season? Have a unique solution?
Sound off in the Comments below!
Thank you to my fellow Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for contributing. Make sure check out their sites and follow on Twitter & Instagram for more great nutrition information.