Dating: Spending Holidays with Separate Families

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week! It’s my absolute favorite time of the year but it has completely snuck up on me! With Thanksgiving being so late this year, I’m a little bummed the holiday season will be a bit expedited but still so excited for this cozy and festive time of year.

Believe it or not, I’m actually writing this blog post from the library of my alma mater. I graduated college in 2016 and instantly was swept up into the adult world and Corporate America. I came back to visit a handful of times because I graduated my junior year and all of my friends were still in school. However, I hadn’t really come back and spent time on campus.

About a month ago, I was invited to come back and speak to Consumer Behavior classes by my Marketing professor. Side note: My first time giving a 45 minute presentation and I did it 3 times in a row 😬. I was astounded when I was here because so much of the campus has changed in just 3 years. They have a new student center, dining hall, gym, multiple new dorms, a new nursing school, and a brand new business school which is where I was. It’s incredible how quickly the school is evolving and while I reminisce on my days as a student here, I also wonder what it would be like to be a student today.

The library actually helped me make my decision to attend here (well that, the scholarships and the fact my mom told me last minute she didn’t want me going to my dream school in California). I remember trying to make my final decision and always thinking about the library. I thought it was really pretty and just felt such great energy when I came to visit. I still do now even though it’s probably one of the only buildings that hasn’t been completely updated since I left.

CJ and I came down to Connecticut this weekend to see his good family friend’s play. He wanted to go golfing this morning so I thought I’d go grab some breakfast at one of my old favorites The Granola Bar (CJ is picking and won’t eat anything there) and then come over to the library and write.

With Thanksgiving this upcoming week, I thought I’d touch on doing holidays separate from your significant other as I think it’s a situation more people than I originally thought deal with this time of year. I’d say 75% of the holidays in the four years CJ and I have been together have been apart. The 25% we’ve spent together have often included hours in a car which isn’t fun for either of us. This year, I think he’s going to spend Christmas with my family which I’m so happy about because it’s one of my favorite days and I want to spend it with him AND my family. But, this Thanksgiving we won’t be spending completely together which kind of sucks.

I used to think spending the holidays apart was really weird and unique to our relationship, but it turns out a lot of our friends (even some who are engaged) do the same.

Holidays mean a lot to my family and I know that it’s important to spend this time together. Having lost close family members, I also put much more of an emphasis on spending time with family and making memories together these key days of the year. I do not think this is unique to me. A lot of families are just like this which in turn often creates a stress when you start dating someone who has a family and traditions of their own. It’s even more complicated if geographically their family is not in close proximity to yours so you cannot easily pop between the two houses.

Holidays are such a special time of the year and it only makes sense that you want to spend it with your partner, but when you both have spent your whole lives celebrating the holidays with your family there’s often this internal seesaw of trying to balance the two.

My mom is really good at hosting holidays, although they have definitely changed over the years. I love going back to my childhood home and being with my family and dogs. I love being in the grocery store picking up last minute ingredients and running into someone I haven’t seen in 5 years. I like helping my mom make certain dishes and putting appetizers out. And I don’t think the holidays would be the holidays without the sound of my mom’s overly-extravagant Church like doorbell ringing when guests arrive. Basically, I love everything about coming home for the holidays. I also know that there’s nothing my mom loves more than having her three children back home gathered around the living room. That’s more important to her than any gift.

I also acknowledge and respect that CJ has his family who live an hour and a half away from my mom have their own traditions. I’ve spent multiple Christmas Eves, Christmas mornings and some other holidays with his family. In fact, at the beginning of the relationship I was the one who sacrificed time with my family to spend with his. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the time but I was always thinking how I wish I was with my family too which sort of put a damper on my mood those days. CJ definitely acknowledged me taking the time away from my family for his and also made the trip to my mom’s on a couple of holidays, spending a lot of time in the car bouncing from Massachusetts to southern Connecticut.

I think we’ve both realized sometimes logistically it’s easier to do the holidays separate. I mean we live together – we see each other every day. And we both know it’s important to see our families at the holidays. Our families want to see us.

However, it doesn’t make the holidays perfect and I know the feeling that something or someone is missing all too well. Last Christmas, I was really bummed that CJ was not at my mom’s for Christmas dinner and I thought how out of all the nice gifts I received, the gift I really wanted was his presence at my family’s celebration. This is definitely emphasized when your sister and other family have their partners with them.

While spending the holidays apart isn’t perfect, communicating with your partner is key. Share with them your frustrations and concerns and also see if you can split certain holidays. It seems like Christmas was made for this with the two different days!

It really is all about finding what works best for you and what’s going to feel best at the end of the day. Sometimes the pressure our families put on us to spend the time with them is overwhelming, but if you are feeling a certain year that being with your partner is more of a priority, you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. The key is doing what feels best for YOU and your significant other. And you should never feel like one way is right and one way is wrong. The best part is your plan and how you feel can change from year to year or even holiday to holiday!

-I’d love to know how you balance you and your significant other’s families during the holidays?

-Do you have any helpful tips or tricks when you feel like you’re missing someone during your holiday celebration?

Happy Holiday Season!

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