Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Negotiating Holidays with a Newly Bi-Coastal Family

My entire extended family (4 grandparents, 10 aunts and uncles, 15 cousins, 8 cousin's spouses, 5 cousin's children) all lives within a two hour radius of one another.  Until now, this had made the holiday season a relative (ha! relatives - get it?!) no-brainer.  My father's side of the family gets together every Christmas eve, my immediate family does Christmas morning on our own, and then we go see my mother's side of the family for the afternoon of Christmas day.  It's been this way since before I was born and our tradition is practically etched in stone. 

{mom's side of the family, from several years ago, and we've grown since then}

Mr. NM, on the other hand, has an extended family that's more spread out.  His immediate family lives in San Francisco (although his sister has now moved to Maryland), and his extended family is spread out from Los Angeles to Toronto and multiple cities in-between.  When he was younger his immediate family went to LA for the holidays, but then they began to stay in SF.  They have their own holiday traditions, but nothing as jam-packed a routine as my family has.

So far Mr. NM and I have not spent a Christmas together, instead spending the holiday with our own families.  Then we would use New Year's Eve as "our Christmas." 

{New Year's Eve/Christmas of 2006}

Having moved to the Left Coast several years ago (and being the only person in my familiy to have moved away), I've had a lot of time (and reason) to think about how I would want to spend holidays in the future.  Even though it pains me to think about giving up my family's holiday traditions, I don't like the idea of traveling with kids over the holidays, and it feels really important for me that my children have Christmas in their own home.  So I'm in the process of trying to work out alternate times for my extended family to get together in future years.  It's tough, for sure.  But it's the future.

Oh but the right now.  Well...  Because Christmas is such a big deal in my family, no one has ever gotten married without bringing their significant other to at least one year's gathering (and usually multiple years).  I didn't even notice this fact until I was engaged myself, and I realized that it wouldn't be kosher to send invitations to family members who hadn't met Nr. NM.  We should just go to Georgia for Christmas then, right?  But going to Georgia for Christmas to see my family means Mr. NM would have to miss Christmas with his family, take extra days off work, and we'd have to shell out the money to pay for his ticket - not to mention that I'd be introducing him to my family without any sense of how accepting they will be of him or of our relationship. 

The debate on this topic raged intensely in our house for a couple weeks, and in the end it was decided that we will be going to Georgia together.  It wasn't an easy decision and there's a part of me that worries it will be a tough trip.  Yet there's also a bigger part of me that's hopeful my family will be loving and supportive (or at least silent if they're not supportive) and that Mr. NM will get to see firsthand the kind of magical holiday experience I've held in great esteem for as long as I can remember.

How do you negotiate the holidays between you and your SO's families?

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