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How can I split the holidays fairly?


the new year is coming

Image: Francesco Marino /

Four Thanksgivinng dinners, three holiday parties, two Christmas dinners, and more than one New Years Eve bash sound familiar?  How can you possibly attend all of the invites this season without becoming drained, sick or fed up? Trying to solve this conundrum with your most beloved significant other can leave you feeling alone, desperate, frustrated and disappointed.  There's simply no way to please everyone, but burning bridges just before the new year is certainly not the answer.

While a couple may be stronger with a healthy degree of differentiation, holidays are truly a time for enmeshment to play a larger role.  Through out the year, it's important to have interests, hobbies, careers and friends that don't involve your better half.  Holidays don't fall into this category.  Remembering throughout the year to make enough time for the self, for friends and family beyond your closest love can be crucial to keeping that relationship moving forward.  This gives each individual time to miss the other, and time to reflect on their relationship, as well as on their own dreams.  However, taking this attitude into the holiday spirit will most likely create more harm than individuality.  Holidays are specifically tailored to spending time with family.  I see it always as a time to be grateful for loved ones, and research is starting to show that the more grateful a human feels, the more happy in general they will also feel.

So, there are 3 main options in dealing with holiday cheer.  One would be to stay home and avoid all types of planning confrontation.  While this may seem like option number one, it would probably make the rest of your family feel left out and down right sad.  Next, you could pick just one part of the family to visit.  Sometimes couples pick which side to visit and then alternate each year.  Other times one family may be holding a holiday dinner before or after the holiday.  This may work out if some holidays are only celebrated by certain parts of the family.  Take my family for example, my dad is Jewish and my mom is Catholic.  We celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, but usually on completely different days.  If this isn't possible, consider dividing the day up evenly.  It might feel busy, but it is the most fair route.

Alternatively, maybe spending one whole day traveling just isn't how you want to spend your holiday.  Find out if certain family members will only be in town for designated days, or at certain parties.  Make those days a priority.  Then, consider the days surrounding the holidays.  Will Grandma and Grandpa be alone the day after Christmas?  What about Auntie Rita, will she need some company New Years Day?  These days are less traveled but can be better appreciated by family that may not have plans otherwise.

Truthfully, there's no easy way to say this, but sometimes it's better to drag around your spouse than leaving them behind with their own family.  It may sound like the easiest way to accommodate everyone.  It sounds simple, you go your way, I'll go mine, but is that what you want the New Year to start out with?  I would rather drag my man half way across the world than leave him behind.  I know this may annoy him, but the minute he's gone I'll miss him, and that certainly doens't feel right to me on Christmas. 

One way to make everyone happy is to combine events.  Try inviting everyone out to the movies or bowling on a random tuesday night NEAR but not ON a holiday.  Many places of entertainment offer discounts or freebies for groups.  Emagine Theaters has recently opened a new place in Woodhaven, and their Canton and Novi theaters are constantly improving their already spectacular movie expereince.   Some of their time slots allow for seat selection, guaranteeing that the fam will get to sit together.  Check out movie times here:

Regardless of how you split your holiday time, remember that communication is the key.  Discuss your plans ahead of time with your significant other as well as with your family.  Letting people know ahead of time gives them the information needed to make better choices about their own plans.  One of the major problems with planning is that people begin to feel like they are not in control of their own destinations.  Talk about plans openly, and ahead of time.  Waiting until the last minute to spring news of your sister coming into town will not get the enthusiastic response you are hoping for if your signif was planning on hitting the town.

Check out tips on communicating with your spouse that can help holiday planning even easier.  For more information or advice on how to spend your time wisely, email me, Sarah, at