How To Navigate Where To Spend The Holidays In A Relationship

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When Addison and I first started dating, obviously we were still in college and there wasn’t any debate of where we would spend the holidays--it was obvious we would be with our separate families and that would be it. But when we moved in together earlier this year, this was a whole new territory. Neither of us had any interest in spending the holidays apart, but we didn’t know how we’d navigate the choice with our families, especially since we live so far away from them. This leads me to my first piece of advice because the best thing we did was:

Start talking about it early.

We were literally thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans in JULY. And although that seems kind of ridiculous, there’s a couple of reasons why it really is beneficial to map this sort of thing out in the warmer weather.

  1. It gives you plenty of time to discuss it and make a decision.

  2. Your families can mentally prepare for the holiday you’re not going to spend with them.

No family likes to be told a week before Thanksgiving that they’re not going to see their son or daughter like they have for the last 22 years. You need to ease them into it and explain your reasoning, and if you tell them in warm weather, they have plenty of time to acclimate to the idea or even make alternative plans if they need to. In my opinion, it’s just courteous to tell them as early as possible.

Now, the next piece of advice I have for you is:

Keep communication open with all the involved parties.

When we first started discussing this over the summer, I was very open with not only Addison but with my mom and his mom about what we were thinking. We originally went back and forth about where we would spend Thanksgiving and Christmas, and our families were involved in each part of the process. This meant that they were kept in the loop the whole time and weren’t surprised when we finally made the call. Speaking of making the call...

Make the decision together.

Although I know you have great traditions on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Hannukah, etc , chances are your partner does too. It may be hard, but when deciding where to spend each holiday, you can’t discount their traditions and feelings. Ask them which holidays are most important to them, and together, consider all of the facts. It isn’t all about feelings and fluffy things--expenses are often an important consideration too. Whatever you do, don’t let the decision be one-sided because that is a breeding ground for resentment and hostility--both of which do NOT belong in your relationship, girlfriend.

Now, what’s really nice about how it worked out for Addison and I was that Addison’s mom told us pretty early on that his family was going to be celebrating thanksgiving the weekend before the actual holiday. This worked out super well because we could make the long drive up north and spend the week with his family, and then the following week spend actual Thanksgiving day with my family.

The only thing that sucks about our situation is that we live SO far away that it really doesn’t make sense, especially since we have 3 pets, to travel from Nashville AGAIN for Christmas. So, since we’re having an extended trip with our families now, this Christmas will just be us and our animals, and that will be different. Instead of partaking in the traditions we grew up with, we have the opportunity to start our own traditions in a new state all by ourselves. We’re looking forward to it, in case you can’t tell. ;)

One thing to keep in mind before I wrap this up you guys is from a conversation I had over the summer with my cousin Heather. It was July and I was already starting to think about the holiday plans, and I expressed to her that I was feeling anxiety over the whole thing because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I asked her what her and her husband Bobby do, because they’ve been together a long time and started dating in college, too. And she said something that stuck with me and I just really heard it, you know? She said, “Kristi, they’re family. They love you, and they are going to respect whatever decision you make. You just do what’s right for you, and no one who loves you is going to make you feel bad about it.”

Oh, this made me feel so much better! I felt the weight lifted off my shoulders and was like, you know what, Heather’s right. And I’m sure that it’s right for you too. You need to handle your holiday plans the way that it works for you--whether it makes sense to split the day and see both families, see one on each holiday and switch holidays every other year, or not see your family at all! Whatever it looks like for you, your family will love you through it all.

So guys I hope this helped you navigate the tough decision around the holidays, and you use this episode as a resource next time you need to decide on your plans. Happy Thanksgiving loves! Talk to you next week and enjoy stuffing your face with turkey and pie!