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Over the River and Through the Woods, To Whose House We Go?

On top of an already hectic schedule during the holidays, having a blended family adds even more visits for everyone.

One of the more stressful parts of the holiday season is making sure that you see everyone you're supposed to–going to your grandparents', your aunt's, your parents', your best friend's, your mom's neighbor's...you get the idea. 

Well, those trips get even more complicated when stepfamilies and blended families get involved. Whether your parents (or your spouse's parents) are divorced or you are, there are many more people to factor into the equation when it comes to which direction you're being pulled for holiday celebrations.

We have a blended family here so there's me and my two kids (6 and 4), my husband and his daughter (almost 11) and our baby, who just turned one. So when we have to make plans for the holidays, there are three sets of parents to consider, nevermind the extended family.

We are very fortunate that we all get along and can work together to make the schedule work for everyone. Christmas is a holiday that rotates every year. This year, all of the kids will sleep here on Christmas Eve (my kids will go with their dad to his family's dinner before coming home) so we'll have Christmas morning at our house.

From there, though, it gets a bit more complicated and hectic...for them, anyway. Our family heads to my parents' house around 10:30 for Christmas brunch and round 2 of presents. We are there for two hours before my kids' dad picks them up to go to his mom's house (round 3) before they finally go back to his house, where they'll have their Christmas Eve and wake up on Dec. 26 for Christmas morning (round 4). 

My step-daughter will be with us through the day, but she's got her fair share of celebrations, too. We've already had a 'Christmas' at my grandmother's, which has been the weekend before Christmas since I was little. She celebrated Christmas at her aunt's with her cousins this past weekend, too.

She also celebrates Hanukkah, so there will be end-of-Hanukkah festivities with her grandmother and Christmas at her other grandparents' house. 

Then there are other invitations from friends and family that are up in the air. We usually end up just coming home, though, as it's an exhausting process for everyone.

It will be interesting to see how things work out as our baby gets older and his brother and sisters aren't with us every other year for 'real Christmas.' We'll have to figure out how we'll go about celebrating then as now, we just have Christmas a day early or a day late as he's one and doesn't know the difference.

What about you? How do these things work in your house? How many places do you visit over the holidays? Are their step-families involved? How is the schedule handled?

Doreen Currie December 20, 2011 at 01:58 PM
This is going to make me sound like the Grinch, but one of the best things about living in a different country from my family is getting to be selfish for the holidays. Yes I miss my family, but it is great not to have to run around visiting people and trying to keep everyone happy. We have extended an open invitation to both my family and my husband's to come spend Christmas with us, and every year we invite our close friends over for dinner. My kids have gotten to languish over opening their gifts and hanging out in their pajamas while we enjoy a lazy Christmas morning. It has also meant every Mother's day I have been spoiled and not had to share the day with my mom or mother in law, same goes for my husband on Father's Day! We do chat with our family in the UK a lot via Skype, more so over the holidays. A few years ago we started a new tradition of a virtual New Year's Eve party with them, we sit around playing board games and enjoying a cocktail together even though we are an ocean apart.
Heather Brooke December 20, 2011 at 03:40 PM
I remember so many years of squeezing 3 Christmas celebrations into 24 hours when I was a kid. Christmas Eve with the step-dad's family in North Haven, Christmas morning and luncheon with mom and maternal grandparents at our house, then off to dad's for Christmas in Massachusetts. I hope we made it better for my stepsons. Christmas Eve was always with their mom and Christmas Day was always with us, usually with my husband's family in some way and or just at our house. But now their mom lives out of state, so Christmas Eve we all get together with her parents -- with only 6 of us left in CT it just doesn't make any sense to celebrate separately anymore. As you said, the most important thing is that everyone gets along and tries to make it easy on the kids. The actual date has never mattered to me, only seeing those I love.
Lise Cavallaro December 20, 2011 at 07:42 PM
I can say that some days after working all day and going home and dealing with a husband, teenagers, two dogs and a mother, I wish I was in a different country sometimes . I also don't think Doreen is being selfish, I think she is being honest. That being said, everyone comes to our house for Christmas Day. And the next day I rest!
Abbie Walston December 20, 2011 at 10:53 PM
We do many, many Christmas parties. 1. My husband's dad's side meets up in early Dec. 2. My family comes over for Christmas Eve (immediate family). 3. We go to brunch at my in-laws' house on Christmas morning, then off to 4. my aunt's house (dad's side) in the afternoon. 5. My husband's mom's side meets up the day after, and 6. my mom's side meets up the following weekend. Plus we had two bday parties (my grandfather's 80th, husband's grandmother's 90th) last weekend. And I'm getting together with my best friends from school who are back in NB for the holidays, with their spouses and kids. I feel fortunate to have such a large family who all lives so close, but Christmas is a busy and stressful time for me. I really want to just have time for my son (1 1/2 years) to enjoy time at home, but we find time to do that in the week off of school between Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Jenn McCulloch December 21, 2011 at 01:16 AM
If we could keep the comments related to the article and topic at hand, it would be most appreciated. Thanks so much and happy holidays!!
Krista Surprenant December 21, 2011 at 02:52 AM
We split the time between families but it works out fine. It can be hectic but I just keep in mind the real point is to be thankful to be with such loving people and that it is only a few days of craziness!
Michelle Petroccio December 21, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Now that my kids are older, and we have great neices and nephews, it's time to visit our relatives, as we wanted when our kids were small. It brings a certain excitement to all of us with the liitle ones who are all geared up for Santa! We will visit at my husband's neices' house on Chistmas Eve, and his whole family will be there. On Christmas Day, we settle back at home, and invite the few left un mty family for a late day buffet style dinner, coofee and and some good times to reminisce over!

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