Think about the top 10 things you and your spouse fight about. For a lot of couples the top 10 include money, sex, how to raise children, etc, etc. For my husband and I one of our top arguments is not even in most people top 50, splitting up the holidays.
When you are little the holidays are a time of joy and merriment you go where mom and dad go and have fun, see family and get presents. Then you get older, find a partner and split the holidays between two families, easy peasy, at least that is what I thought. Without further adieu I would like to share with you the three most popular holiday splits and how to handle them…or not.
In this scenario both you and your partner have parents that are still married. This is best-case scenario! You have hit the lottery, congratulations!!!! Bonus points if all parities involved live with a 30-minute drive of one another. This is the happy scenario that most of our parents grew up with. Now sadly with divorce rates what they are and people moving away from their home towns at a never before seen rate, this tends to be the exception rather than the rule. You can either visit one per holiday or both on both. Wonderful!
In this scenario one of you has parents who are married (P1) and the other has parents who are divorced (P2) or at least seperated. This is my scenario, so I know the most about this one. My husbands parents, god bless them are perfect for each other. They have been together for 35ish years and I can see us dancing at their 50th wedding anniversary without a doubt. My parents on the other hand were not as lucky. They found their soul mates the second time around, so my brother and I get to have this scenario at best. This one can be very tough to navigate. P1’s children tend to not understand what having divorced parents is like on holidays. It is not their fault; they have never been there. I personally can only remember one holiday my parents spent together. So P2’s children tend to be a bit easier on the splitting BUT their P2’s themselves, tend not to be.
Please be patient with P2’s and remember they have already lost one holiday to their former spouse, now you are asking them to potentially lose two. We had to come up with a spreadsheet in order for the chaos of holiday planning to cease. Every year someone does not have us. No one likes our spreadsheet, including us, but we did not want to become P2’s ourselves so we did it to help our relationship. We literally had to use the slogan “As long as no one is happy, everyone is happy” to float this idea…how terrible is that. It is an ever evolving process which will be continue to be ongoing…forever, kind of like a construction project. YAY holidays!
In this last scenario both partners have parents who are divorced or separated. You have 4 sets of parents to visit, 4 unique families. I am so sorry, good luck with this one. You do have one benefit that those who have the Trifecta do not have, both families understand that splitting holidays will happen. Both have been there, both hate it, both should get over this new arrangement a tab bit easier. Having never been in this scenario I do not know if this is fact, it is simply my hypothesis. If you have the added struggle of all four families spread out around the country I give you an extra head nod, I don’t know how you do it.
My best advice would be to do as my mother and stepfather do; they have the quadruple conundrum. They spend the holidays in some variation with one family, both of his folks on Thanksgiving and both of hers on the Christmas. Basically they turn it into the Double Duty scenario. When that is not possible a spreadsheet is always a fantastic idea ;)…or you can get together every year on a different day and know that you will never be together on that holiday. For example, you always get together with your mother on November 15th, that is your Thanksgiving, every year, without fail. This way you may not be there on the holiday but you still get the traditions together. You can also pick another holiday during the year that is important and make that your big holiday. My stepfather would be VERY happy if all we did was get together on the 4th of July, that is his Christmas. He doesn’t like Christmas and would be please to sit at home, watch TV and do nothing on actual Christmas. (My mom does not agree so it doesn’t work for us but I digress.)
I know there are a thousand scenarios I have not touched on; I only gave the top three. Whatever your scenario is keep in mind that every family has their challenges but a big point of the holidays is family together time.
Remember you are all doing the absolute best you can.
Which shuffle style do you fall under?? If it is one not mentioned give yours a name, have fun with the crazy!
The Perfectionist Mom
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