Celebrating holidays with kids: The last great frontier

You meet the love of your life, you meet their families, you date, get engaged, married, and then you have kids. You may have traded holidays before that, but what do you do when BOTH families want to see the kids EVERY holiday? The truth is, you could run yourself ragged on holidays, visiting this aunt and uncle, grandparents on either side of both families, and even your special friends, but no one will be happy, least of all, you. Babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers get cranky after so much cheek pinching, nap-skipping and weird people staring contests (with a finger shoved up their nose). Don’t even get me started on ‘are we there yet?’– our oldest started this last month and I already want to climb over the seat and shove something in her mouth to make her stop. Yelling from the front seat does no good, and you have to be REALLY committed to ‘turn this car around’. Cue tantrum.

So what do you do? Well, you could have holidays at your house, and tell anyone who wants to come that they’re welcome. Holy night terrors, batman, you might have to clean your house and hide the liquor collection you’ve been amassing since college. You could alternate years, or alternate holidays, or you could just pick and choose what YOU want to do and tell everyone else to check your blog and/or facebook for photos, cute stories, and to bypass the carsickness puke smell that lingers in the air. My husband has never been a big ‘visit’ person. Even with his own family. He says that the girls and I are his family, and that anyone else basically is just a bonus. He tolerates my desire to see extended family a couple of times a year. Somehow he always ends up with a headache or backache either before we go, or on the way. It seems to be a rule. I don’t think it’s deliberate and it may not even be a sub-conscious reaction, it may just be a run of bad luck, but he always ends up wanting to leave early and is grumpy. After 10 years, I’ve figured this out and just tend to ignore him unless I need him for something, after all, I live with the man, I don’t need to be fastened to his hip everywhere we go. I stock tylenol in my gear, too and always offer to get drinks while he’s pumping gas along the way. Sometimes coffee or a rightly timed drink can be a lubricant in the traveling machine, and ease the headache, too.

If holidays just completely overwhelm your kids, you could always opt to skip and visit at off times when there won’t be a big crowd gathered. The same goes if you or your partner are pregnant. With no time restraints, you can really have an easier go of it. Just don’t forget to post holiday celebration pictures when everyone will be looking for them. We don’t visit family for Halloween, for example, so we took pictures of the kids and posted them on Facebook and on the blog. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends can get a ‘kid fix’ all in one click of a mouse. Photo sharing sites like picasa and shutterfly help, too, with tons of storage, every snapshot can be saved and perused anytime your family wants, provided you send them the link. Most of all, remember that these are YOUR holidays, too. You may only get so much time off of work, or you may just not have the energy to deal with everything that goes with packing a family up and driving a long distance. Don’t let that force your hand, just be sure to keep in touch regularly, and don’t worry too much about the ‘big days’, young kids won’t remember them anyway, and you’ll have a better time once they can listen to their own music players while they stare out the window. Are we there yet?


  1. We just decided that holidays would be for our family. Both of us have some, um, less than stellar holiday memories and we just thought it would be better that way.

    Our kids know that when they’re moved out and on their own that we expect them to do whatever works for them and there will be no guilt tripping or anger or disappointment. And that they’re welcome ANY time.

  2. Holidays are crazy – especially when you add in a 3rd set of grandparents!

    Hosting holidays works for us – and also, for my in-laws, they have always gotten together AFTER Christmas (the week b/n with New Years). That has worked out so well….we don’t feel like anyone is missing out that way.

    Do what is best for you guys – You have the baby now so that is the schedule you have to work around!!!

    And yes – I will be commenting for nablopomo. I’ll think of some good preschool calming techniques. (do I have any? I don’t even know – were my children ever calm? hahahah)

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