Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Family Gatherings

This week is Works for Me Christmas Edition. Well, it seems I jumped the gun and posted my favorite Christmas tip, Four for Christmas, a few weeks ago. If you didn't see it, it is about what we buy our kids for Christmas.

This tip, though, is about how we handle family gatherings. When my husband and I first got married we tried to attend all the family Christmas gatherings. This included, one with my parents and siblings, one with my husbands parents and siblings and one his dad's family and one with his mom's family. A typical holiday went like this. Christmas Eve afternoon with my family including Christmas Eve service. After the service we went to his parents to have Christmas. Christmas morning, brunch at Grandma's with Tim's dad's family, Christmas afternoon dinner with Tim's mom's family.

I know some people thrive on the busyness and the people. I am not one of those people. By Christmas night, I was tired, grumpy and very annoyed. We said we would do it until we had kids.

Then Kellen was born. Somewhere along the line we started doing Christmas with his parents between brunch and dinner on Christmas day. My parents moved out of state so that also changed when we got together with them. We didn't cut anything out. We were still trying to do it all and trying to squeeze in Christmas morning with the kids before brunch. I don't think it changed until Nolan (our third) was born.

It is hard when you are newly married or new parents to figure out how you become your own family. When should you make new traditions and when should you stick with the old ones? We enjoy spending time with all the family, but felt like Christmas was getting out of control. It was becoming a blur. We would rush from house to house ripping off paper, giving hugs and loading the car. Something had to change.

It has been a gradual change. And we still don't have it all figured out yet. First, we decided that Christmas morning was all ours. We wanted to spend time with the kids. We want them to enjoy their gifts, to actually be able to play with them before we are jumping in the car. Sometime around Christmas or New Years we get together with our parents and siblings.

It is more complicated too because now we are four hours from Tim's family. We don't get to see everyone for Christmas anymore, but we do try to make sure we see them at other times. For example, we don't make it to brunch, we do stop into see Tim's grandma when we are in Ohio and we go to the family July 4th picnic too. We also get to spend more time with people when we do see them.

Planning Christmas is a little more complicated now. Every year about this time we break out calendars to start planning when we can all get together. This year my side will get together the first weekend in January. We will talk with Tim's family over Thanksgiving (they are coming down.) I am looking at the weekend before Christmas, since Christmas is on a Monday this year.
But we always know Christmas morning is for us and our kids.

I like spreading out the celebrations for a number of reasons. We get to spend more time with each part of the family. We get to enjoy and not feel rushed around. Celebrating some after the first of the year gives me more time to get it together, especially the homemade gifts! Also, we have gotten some great deals on Christmas presents by shopping after Christmas.

Family is important, but sanity is too! This is what works for us !


  1. I decided that this year I will spend Chistmas eve day with the in-laws and that night with my parents. Christmas day I am staying home and enjoying my kids. I am tired of feeling rushed. BAH HUMBUG! If they want Christmas day, they can come to me.

  2. We have been so much happier in our home since we simplified this process!


  3. I know what you mean, but I am one who likes the hopping back and forth. I love Grandma's brunch even though we are usually late. The last 2 years, we've had Mom, Ernie and Grandma here on Christmas eve for take out, so I wouldn't be hurt if they did away with it- which they "say" they'll do every year...

  4. Family gatherings are always tricky.
    I really liked your 4 gifts tip; I linked it on my 3 gifts WFMW tip. I think I will use that, but useful and practical will be combined for one gift. Great idea though!

  5. Stephanie I could have written this! LOL After our first horrific year of non-stop visits and our new baby we vowed - "Never again." We've told our family it's more important that we spend quality time throughout the year and not just on one day/holiday. It's okay to simplify! Thanks for sharing.

    Holly's Corner

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I am newly married and once we have kids we will need to figure things out a bit more.

  7. Christmas is in the air!!I'm spending the next weekend planning and shopping and giving shape to a few ideas that I feel would be something unique this time. If you are looking out for some cool and out of the box stuff, you can jus peep into my Holiday Blog.......

  8. We learned this one the hard way, too. Now that we live so far from all our family, it makes it easier. We just don't travel to see anyone on Christmas. The grandparents come some years, and we willingly travel to visit family during the rest of the year, so we still get to see everyone. Just at more relaxed times and at a pace that is better for our sanity.