Holiday traditions we hold close to our hearts. They are things that we can count on and bring to mind memories, reminding us of both times and people that have passed. Some traditions may be fun, some may be tedious, some may be bits of distant past that you hold onto wistfully, hoping some day to recreate. The first holiday season with a new baby – whatever holiday, in whichever time of year that may be – is a good time to establish what traditions you are going to pass on, which you are going to leave behind and which you are going to adopt from your spouse or partner.
Dividing the holidays
If you haven’t run into holiday battles yet, requiring a dividing of holidays between sides of the family, now that the baby has arrived, you can bet that they will begin. There are ways to avoid big fights over who goes where and when.
First, you should assess what is realistic for your family. Consider cost, in terms of both money and time. You may not be able to afford to be jetting across the country – and with and infant or young child, you may not want to – or you may have limited guest space for visiting parents, in-laws, and siblings. Then again, maybe you live around the corner from your sister and next door to your mother.
Then decide if there are certain holidays that hold priority for you or your spouse. Is there a giant family reunion-style dinner every year for a specific holiday that you want your children to be experience? Does your long lost uncle fly back to the country once a year and only for a particular occasion? Are both families equally invested in the ritual and protocol of the holiday season, thus requiring an alternating of years?
Once you have determined which family have priority for which holidays, establish ground rules. Decide which holidays you are visiting relatives and which you are staying home. Let your family know that you’ll be alternating years, or which holidays to expect you every year. Communicating this up front helps prevent hurt feelings when you turn down an invitation and manages expectations.
A great alternative, if you have the space to accommodate, is to shift the center of holiday celebration. If you are able to host the celebration, then there is no need to decide which family to go to; you can have both come to you.
It also allows you to blend the traditions from both families’ celebrations into one event, and expose your child to the favorite traditions of both parents.