The Holiday Shuffle: How do you Split it up??

The Holiday Shuffle How do you Split it upThink 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.

Double Duty:

Double Duty

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!

Terrible Trifecta:

Terrible Trifecta

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!

Quadruple Conundrum:

Quadruple Conundrum

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!

Happy Holidays,

The Perfectionist Mom

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23 Comments

  1. We have a real holiday shuffle. My husband is divorced. My mother is remarried after my father died. His parents are deceased, but we have to contend with the x. We get to see the kids on Christmas Eve. She gets them Christmas morning. Our kids are now grown so it is not so bad. We have grands though too,now. It is crazy because one of our children are married and have a son. The other daughter did not marry but has two children. She does not have custody and has moved away leaving her kids with the X. Have I totally confused you yet? Do you think you can draw me a diagram thingy. We go to my mom’s new family for one hoiliday. Both my mom and her husband usually go with us to my sister’s for another hoiliday with their children and my two brothers show up there too with their families. Then we celebrate with his family somehow in all that too. Christmas Eve is always reserved for his kids which kind of makes it easier because his kids are pretty staunch about it. So we go to my family somewhere on Christmas day.

    1. I am sure I could come up with one 🙂 That is a lot of dynamics. Life always gets more complicated the more generations are involved. It sounds like you have a lot of family time to cover each year!

  2. We’ve always been of the mindset that we are hosting dinner at our house and all are welcome but no drama is allowed LOL

  3. I keep it simple. We stay home for Christmas and dam is welcome to come to us. Thanksgiving pretty much goes to the first invite. LOL

    1. We tried that and it did not work! I am hoping as our daughter gets older and we have more kids, (finger crossed) we will get a chance to stay home too! Right now we are in the odd transition time of our parents still wanting to host but we want to start hosting holidays as well. Hmm did that make sense 🙂

  4. That is supposed to say “fam” sorry

  5. Love these tips…holidays can get sooo chaotic when in reality they are supposed to be relaxing!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I agree! Thank you for visiting!

  6. We’re pretty lucky in our holiday scenario. We visit my family on the “off season” – think Memorial Day or summer BBQ. They live about 2.3 hrs away, so not that bad of a drive on a 3 day weekend. Hubby’s family is where it gets tricky – his mom & dad are divorced. We actually see his mom quite a bit, and when we had our first daughter she moved from Missouri to about an hour down the highway … i.e. we see her every other weekend. She gets Christmas, and hubby’s siblings fly in. That means Thanksgiving we’re traveling to Floriday for hubby’s dad + stepmom, and with little ones, it can be a little hectic. But thankfully, we’re expecting #2 any day now, so this year we have a “Get Out of the Holidays” free card.

    1. Sounds like you have a pretty good plan on normal years. Good luck with #2!!!! Gotta love the years off! We got married on New Year’s Eve one year and got that year off of traveling, best year ever!

  7. Thankfully when I was a single mom my son’s father agreed that I would have him for Thanksgiving (near his birthday) and on Christmas Day he would open gifts with me in the morning and go with his dad for the afternoon then back home to me. We lived close so everything worked out pretty well. I know it can be very difficult but you’re right…finding that balance is key for everyone.

    1. That is very similar to how my folks handled holidays when they were separated. Then my dad moved and everything changed. Balance is Key!

  8. I think our system is to basically throw all the pieces up in the air and they fall wherever they may! Luckily everyone is pretty understanding that we have 3 separate “parent” sets to deal with. And they’re all in one state.

    1. The trifecta! Gotta love it! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  9. When our older kids were small, it was so hard doing the shuffle between their mom and then us. When they became older and their mom disappeared it became our house and whoever wanted to join us.. even their mom.. could join us.

  10. In our pre-canna counseling class they actually made every couple discuss this topic. We were amazed that so many couples about to be married had not even thought about this reality. We’ve never had an issue.

    1. We discussed this in our pre-martial class as well. That was one of the reasons we came up with our spreadsheet. You are blessed to never have had an issue 🙂

  11. This is the one thing that gets me the most on the Holidays. It’s so hard on the parents, I can’t imagine what it is like on the kids. My parents just recently relocated/retired and it is nearly two hours away. I told my mom when they left that I wasn’t going to be able to come out on the holidays, but we could do something sometime another day. The kids just don’t enjoy it if you spend the time traveling. Thankfully my In-Laws live just 5 minutes away. Thanks for this, I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks this!

    1. You most definitely are not alone Holly! It is really hard on the kids with traveling. They want nothing more than to have fun and a lot of travel can be tough on them. You will fall into a routine soon enough.

  12. This is so true! My dad just came back in my life recently so I am having to deal with the whole 2 parents who don’t like each other thing for the first time in 32 years. But most of the time, I invite everyone else to my house and everyone better get along or they can leave. That way it is my house and my rules and I feel like I got the upper hand on the situation. No bad mouthing allowed.

  13. The Holidays are pretty simple for us since we do not have kids yet. We do Christmas morning with the in-laws and Christmas NIGHT ..yes night…With my family.

  14. My parents are deceased. My in-laws live about 3 miles from us but we don’t go there on Christmas. When you become grandparents, you travel from house to house seeing the grandchildren. There is no end to it but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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