Surviving Family Holiday Drama: Making Your Own Family Traditions

Surviving Family Holiday Drama: Making Your Own Family Traditions

Everyone wants what they want. Especially at Christmas time. It seems that the “season of giving” turns a lot of people generous with their money, yet selfish with their time. Many families struggle with how to keep all the loved ones happy during this season.

The reality: You can’t. There comes a point when you have to choose.

You need to decide on your family’s priorities.

It is important to create your own family traditions. Do you want to have your children remember moments on Christmas morning with just Mom, Dad, and siblings, or do you want them to remember being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of waking up at Grandma’s with all of their cousins? Perhaps you want to go away for Christmas or have a completely different vision. Do you and your significant other share the same vision for your family’s Christmas traditions? Talk about it. (If you are unable to come to an agreement or compromise, maybe you could try to alternate years for each others’ wishes.) According to their personalities, what would your children appreciate? If they are old enough, maybe you could ask them for input as well. While input from kids can be helpful, don’t let their ideas overrule your desires for the family (you are the parent after all).

Surviving Family Holiday Drama: Making Your Own Family Traditions

Now comes the tough part: letting everyone plan their holiday events and then picking and choosing which events you are able (and choose) to attend.

There comes a point when you may need to decline some of those invitations.

It isn’t realistic to think that you can be at your parents’ Christmas morning and then his parents’ for lunch and then his extended family for dinner and your extended family Christmas eve and then a work function on Boxing Day. You will likely end up feeling burnt out. (Not to mention broke, if you are expected to bring gifts to all these functions.)

Choose which of these events fits with your desire for your family’s Christmas and decline the rest.

If a specific function makes your blood pressure go up just thinking about it, then you have every right to make the choice not to attend. If it’s causing you that much stress, you can be assured that your children are picking up on it. If there are certain people that you truly want to see around Christmas time, perhaps you could make alternate plans (such as visiting with your side of the family the weekend before Christmas and his family the weekend after Christmas).

It’s not always easy to go against certain long-standing events (such as Great Aunt Ruth’s 46th Annual Christmas Eve potluck that the whole family is expected to attend every year) but it also isn’t fair to you or your children to put off your own family traditions. Though others may make you feel like you have specific obligations at Christmas time, your obligations to your own family and children should be a top priority. It may be tough to stand your ground the first few years but, eventually, people will begin to accept (even if they don’t appreciate) your view.

What are your plans to make this Christmas special for your own family? Share some of your favorite traditions.

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