Are you dreading the holidays?  Do you have to split holidays with more than two groups of relatives?  Do you feel you are traveling all over the place and resent holidays?  Are you a people pleaser and trying to make everyone family member happy?

The movie “Four Christmases” is not just a funny movie, it’s a very real situation to numerous families who have to share the holidays with multiple families. As the holiday season approaches, so can a sense of dread for many people. There are many step-families, blended families, and families of choice. How on earth can a family split one holiday up to five different ways? A very few manage to split up one day in many ways, but it’s too stressful, especially with young children and even more stressful if there is a child with special needs. Imagine three Easter dinners, three Easter egg hunts, and too much candy!

Remember, you can not please everyone! If you are a chronic people-pleaser, this is very hard to accept. You may try painstakingly to please each family, but it’s impossible to please everyone and enjoy the holidays yourself.

  • Holiday Scheduling- Come up with a schedule for each family:
    • Alternate Thanksgiving each year, i.e. every third year we’re with your side of the family.
    • Alternate Christmas Eve between your parents and your spouses.
    • Maybe Christmas Day you could invite all three or four families over to your home, and not travel anywhere.
      • This will help your stress level, and gives each of the families equal access to your family on Christmas Day.
      • If someone chooses not to come, that’s their choice!

Additional Tips:

1. Sit down with your spouse far in advance of the holidays, and in a neutral way, discuss the following:

  • What each of you desires for the upcoming holidays
  • Which holiday is most important to you?
  • Which is more important to your extended family?
  • Where do you think you can combine families?
  • Do you want to have time with your own primary family (wife/husband and children)?
  • Do you like to travel or is it an inconvenience or are finances an issue?

2. Know you will never please everyone involved.

3. Find the balance between self-care & selfishness.

4. If you have children, do your best to begin traditions for them and set a healthy example.

5. Accept during this transition that some or all family members will be angry with you. Accept that there is nothing you can do to change this.  When there are changes of this nature it often gets worse before it gets much better!  So stick to the plan!  Also, find comfort that the family is upset because they want more time with you.  Some families do not want to get together at all!

Remember how fortunate we are to have our extended families in our lives and still living. It won’t always be this way. There may come a day when we long for the busyness of these days!