Author Topic: Holidays and spending time with non-related family  (Read 3863 times)

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nuit93

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Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« on: December 04, 2012, 09:39:56 PM »
With Christmas coming up, the BF and I have decided to adjust our plans from the usual.  Typically we spend Christmas Eve with my extended family (anywhere from 20-35 people depending on who shows, who brings a friend/coworker/neighbor/etc., it's pretty casual and fun), and Christmas Day with the immediate family (opening gifts and having a small brunch with anywhere from 4-8 of us).

This year we've been planning on spending the 25th with our other partners and possibly some other close friends, all of whom we do consider close family to us.  I know it's typical for, say, married couples to alternate holidays with one partners' family one year and the other partner on the off years.  This is what my sister and her husband do, since both our parents and his live locally (my BF's family is out of state).  Among the family, it's just accepted that that is what happens when you're married--"custody" of holidays is shared and to my understanding this is considered acceptable etiquette.

What I'm not clear on is, what is the etiquette when doing holiday "who gets what holiday" when dealing with non-relatives or non-traditional relationships?

SPuck

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 11:03:33 PM »
There is no etiquette rule that says you have to spend holidays with certain people. You get to do whatever you want though if you want to be polite you could inform the people that you usually see that you won't be seeing them for the holiday.

Sharnita

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 11:17:43 PM »
I think there are a vast number of things to consider.  For example, do some of the people you might want to spend time with have really young kids? It might be easier to go to them than for them to roust the kids and go to some other location.  It might be fun to see the kids on CHristmas morning but other adults on New Years. If there is somebody who has health issues is it easier to visist them or would it be better to host so they don't have that burden?  Do some people in your family or family of choice like to host?  Are others stressed by it? Would even a short trip on winter roads make some of the people you want to see nervous?

All of these things might be taken into consideration as you make your plans and decisions.  I think there will eventually be "rules" and patterns that emerge for you, your family friends, etc. but circumstances will do a lot to direct those.

nuit93

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 11:43:34 PM »
I think there are a vast number of things to consider.  For example, do some of the people you might want to spend time with have really young kids? It might be easier to go to them than for them to roust the kids and go to some other location.  It might be fun to see the kids on CHristmas morning but other adults on New Years. If there is somebody who has health issues is it easier to visist them or would it be better to host so they don't have that burden?  Do some people in your family or family of choice like to host?  Are others stressed by it? Would even a short trip on winter roads make some of the people you want to see nervous?

All of these things might be taken into consideration as you make your plans and decisions.  I think there will eventually be "rules" and patterns that emerge for you, your family friends, etc. but circumstances will do a lot to direct those.

No kids, no health issues.  We're in the Pacific Northwest so winter roads are rarely an issue.

Auntie Mame

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 04:00:06 AM »
The best holidays I have ever had have been with friends.  I simply told my family I had other plans and enjoyed my day. 
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bopper

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 11:03:32 AM »
How far away are you from the usual locations?

Do you see the immediate family on Xmas eve as well?

If so, then you could just say that this year (which may turn into forever, or alternating years) you are going to see immediate family on Xmas eve but are going to stay at home on Xmas.  You could exchange gifts with them on Xmas eve or meet up with them another day.

Is your immediate family aware of your nontraditional relationships? Could you invite your immediate family to join you all for brunch etc?

Tea Drinker

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 11:08:34 AM »
I think the only absolute rule is to explain calmly and politely, in the same way as you would say "no, we're not coming to your town for the holiday, we're staying home with just our kids." Explain as much or as little as you feel appropriate: "we're going to be spending Christmas with our friends Opal and Jet" is fine if you'd rather not make clear that they're more than just friends.

At this point, it's understood that my husband and I spend Thanksgiving with my girlfriend. Depending on who we're talking to, we may make clear--or have made clear in the past--that she's my partner, or not. My mother knows, at the same level of detail that she knows about my personal life with my husband (so nothing that couldn't be comfortably discussed on the bus, but she knows that it's a committed relationship. My girlfriend's mother just knows that she and I are good friends and that my husband and I spend the holiday with her, because that's what she's comfortable sharing.
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nuit93

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 12:57:29 PM »
How far away are you from the usual locations?

Do you see the immediate family on Xmas eve as well?

If so, then you could just say that this year (which may turn into forever, or alternating years) you are going to see immediate family on Xmas eve but are going to stay at home on Xmas.  You could exchange gifts with them on Xmas eve or meet up with them another day.

Is your immediate family aware of your nontraditional relationships? Could you invite your immediate family to join you all for brunch etc?

Nope, hopefully next year we'll have that discussion but it wasn't one I intended to have right before the holidays. 

We live really close to my immediate family--a ten minute drive, fifteen if there's traffic.

MrTango

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 01:48:03 PM »
What I'm not clear on is, what is the etiquette when doing holiday "who gets what holiday" when dealing with non-relatives or non-traditional relationships?

My thought is that, no matter what structure your relationships take, you get the holiday to decide with whom you want to spend it.

Mikayla

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 01:58:46 PM »
What I'm not clear on is, what is the etiquette when doing holiday "who gets what holiday" when dealing with non-relatives or non-traditional relationships?

My thought is that, no matter what structure your relationships take, you get the holiday to decide with whom you want to spend it.

I like this, and I don't think non-traditional relationships are a factor either way.  My family is very cool with all of this, and we have an unspoken rule that nobody ever challenges someone else's plans. 

Tea Drinker

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 04:56:56 PM »

Is your immediate family aware of your nontraditional relationships? Could you invite your immediate family to join you all for brunch etc?

Nope, hopefully next year we'll have that discussion but it wasn't one I intended to have right before the holidays. 

We live really close to my immediate family--a ten minute drive, fifteen if there's traffic.

This makes sense, and in fact I came back to this thread to suggest not combining the two conversations, of "no, we're not coming to see you for Christmas" and telling them about your nontraditional relationships. It avoids possibly having two arguments at once, or having your family of origin blame your other partners for "taking you away from them."
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nuit93

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 05:18:20 PM »

Is your immediate family aware of your nontraditional relationships? Could you invite your immediate family to join you all for brunch etc?

Nope, hopefully next year we'll have that discussion but it wasn't one I intended to have right before the holidays. 

We live really close to my immediate family--a ten minute drive, fifteen if there's traffic.

This makes sense, and in fact I came back to this thread to suggest not combining the two conversations, of "no, we're not coming to see you for Christmas" and telling them about your nontraditional relationships. It avoids possibly having two arguments at once, or having your family of origin blame your other partners for "taking you away from them."

Oh, believe me, that was the last thing I had on my mind.  It's a conversation that will need to happen eventually* but major holidays are not the time for that.  We will be bringing them to the large family gathering on the 24th (as 'friends', other relatives do this all the time with neighbors or friends of theirs).  This way the conversation can at least start with "hey, do you remember those friends of ours that came to the gathering?".

*BF and I have discussed at length the possibilty of living with our other partners instead of each other. 

Sterling

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 05:20:06 PM »
I would just nicely tell your family that this year you have made plans to do something slightly different.  If you have time try and arrange a time to visit with them before or after the holiday but just be polite and firm that this year you have plans but you will miss them dearly.

Unless you have family that takes EVERYTHING personally they should be ok.  I won't say they won't be disappointed but as family members grow up and relationships evolve most adults are able to understand that traditions can't always stay the same.

And definitely wait on the other conversation until after the holidays.  No sense confusing people right before a big family event.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 05:32:23 PM »
I don't believe the nature of your relationship with these friends plays a part in your decision on where to spend Christmas Day.  All you need to do is convey that you will be attending the Xmas Eve celebration but you've decided to accept a different invitation for Xmas Day. 

Your immediate family will miss having you in attendance but as we've seen on this board, even you if were spending it with a spouse's family they could be just as hurt. 

Deetee

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Re: Holidays and spending time with non-related family
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2012, 06:27:48 PM »
I don't believe the nature of your relationship with these friends plays a part in your decision on where to spend Christmas Day.  All you need to do is convey that you will be attending the Xmas Eve celebration but you've decided to accept a different invitation for Xmas Day. 

Your immediate family will miss having you in attendance but as we've seen on this board, even you if were spending it with a spouse's family they could be just as hurt.

This. When I read the OP I missed that there was any aspect of non-traditional relationship and I just thought that you spend Christmas where you want (and I think about half of the holiday related anguish on this board would disapear if people just did that).

How and if you relate anything else to your family is entirely seperate and can be dealt iwth seperately.