If you had to cut out some of our national holidays, the chances are that Christmas and Thanksgiving would be the last to go. Yet, experts tell us that Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the most stressful times of the year.
One of the most common things leading to added stress during these holidays is the age-old argument over where your married children will spend them. Will they have dinner with the woman’s parents or with the husband’s parents? Or will they try to gobble down one dinner at “her” former home and then, stuffed, rush over to “his” parent’s home and force themselves to eat again?
Sound silly? It happens more often than you think.
As the parents of three lovely daughters, of course we would like to have everyone home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but so would your married child’s new family. That can cause friction so what is the solution? Will your married child be eating at your table, or at the table of his or her in-laws this Thanksgiving?
Here are some solutions that have worked for other people. See if one of them might work in your case.
1. Talk the problem over with the other family.
Lots of problems can be solved if the parties involved take the time to talk to each other. Maybe you could take turns. One year, have the celebration at your home (inviting the in-laws and their families if you like, or just with your own children and their spouse.) and the next year, the in-laws would do the same.
2. Let the newly married couple host Thanksgiving at their home.
If you have several married children, this wouldn’t work well, but otherwise it is a pretty fair solution. Both families could bring a part of the food and help with the cooking. That way, everyone would get to know each other better, and hopefully become good friends.
3. You could change the day of your Thanksgiving celebration.
If your family members all live within driving distance, have one family celebrate the week-end before the holiday and the other on the exact date of the holiday. We did this for a number of years and actually came to prefer it. We got to enjoy our family dinner together a week early, without anyone getting upset. The following week our married daughters got to celebrate again with their other family. No one seemed to notice that it wasn’t really Thanksgiving Day on the years we did it a week early. The turkey was still there as usual along with all the trimmings, and we all had a great time. An added bonus for us was that Christmas didn’t follow as quickly on the heels of Thanksgiving as it usually did and it gave us an extra week to prepare for Christmas.
4. Have young couple celebrate Christmas with one family and Thanksgiving with the other.
This is often the best solution. The young couple can talk with both sets of parents and decide which holiday would be best to celebrate with each. If both parents prefer Christmas, then alternate each year. The advantage to this plan is that the parents each have to plan a big celebration only once a year—not two within a few weeks of each other.
5. Go out to eat and give the cooks in your family a rest.
Pick a restaurant that serves a nice Holiday meal, and have both families meet there at a scheduled time. Each family pays their own way and can enjoy having, “no dishes to wash,” afterward. (Of course there won’t be a lot of leftovers either, but you can’t have everything.)
Out of the 5 solutions above, you can probably find one that fits your family situation well. The secret to making your choice work is to talk it over with both sets of parents ahead of time rather than springing it on them at the last minute. You may find that settling the problem of just where you are going to be celebrating major holidays from now on will remove a lot of stress from your life, and we can all use that, can’t we?.