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Four Families = Four (Dysfunctional) Holidays

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Momlogic's Jenny: The holidays are stressful enough. But pour four families and one new (and only) grandchild into the mix and you've got yourself a real life case of "Four Christmases..."

fainly dinner

As I sat through a screening of "Four Christmases," I started to break out in a sweat. How will I, with four families of my own, survive the holidays? I could relate to the anxiety Brad (Vince Vaughn) and his girlfriend Kate (Reese Witherspoon) experienced in "Four Christmases" as they shlepped from one crazy family to the next on Christmas Day. In the movie, the couple struggles with the idea of marrying and having kids of their own after having to spend a stressful day with their divorced families. Growing up with divorced parents, I can relate to this movie and have certainly had moments with family (in-laws included) where I've wondered if bringing a baby into a world of nutballs was really a wise choice. It was hard enough as a child to bounce around from family to family, to party to party, in order to spend time with all families -- do I really want to do that to my own child? I think I have no choice.

Before I got married, Thanksgiving was always a holiday I celebrated at my mom's house and my mom's house only. But once I got married, everything changed. The first year, we went to my mom's house. The second year we went to his parent's house. The third year, we really changed things up and went to my dad's house. The fourth year, we had a baby and then evvvvvverything changed. Everyone wanted a piece of us (well, the baby really) and we were going to have to find a way to divide our time. The solution? Host thanksgiving at our house and invite everyone. The problem, my stepmom hosts Thanksgiving at her house too. SO, everyone (except for my dad's family, who we visited in the morning), came over to our house. From the turkey to the side dishes to the company, the day was a complete success. It seemed like this would be our new tradition and everyone seemed to be okay with it.... until now.

My brother-in-law just got married last month. His wife typically spends Thanksgiving with her family, which means that now there is a FOURTH family. This poses a problem ... My brother-in-law will join his wife of course, and my in-laws will now go there too. But what about the other two families? What happens to them? Do I tell my parents, both vying for our company and time with the baby, that this year everything is changing (AGAIN) and go to my sister-in-laws? Decisions, decisions... Ultimately, we decided staying at our house and forging ahead with our new tradition, without my in-laws, was going to be the best game plan. I know my husband would have liked for all of us to be together, but I've reminded him that at least at home we have a big flat screen television ready for his football viewing pleasure and he won't have to worry about whether or not someone else has the game on.

Much like "Four Christmases," for me, the holiday season is one big marathon. At the end of every get together, I always feel slightly more insane and dysfunctional. At the same time, I'm completely grateful to have so much family when some people have none. Having four families definitely comes with its share of chaos. But all I can say is that it's a good thing we're Jewish and there are eight nights of Hannukah....

next: Cookenomics: Make the Most of Your Leftovers
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
just sayin' November 29, 2008, 11:32 AM

Everything changed after I got married, now we have to split time between both houses and it drives me crazy. In the end, none of us feels like we got to spend enough time with our side of the family. This year we spent Thanksgiving at home by ourselves and it was great! I did miss my side of the family though. Now I am stressed out about how we will spend Christmas……

JoAnne November 30, 2008, 11:24 AM

Once I had kids I decided I wouldn’t be lugging all the baby crap from house to house, so I told everybody that holidays would be spent at my house because the babies don’t adjust well to taking naps in unfamiliar places (a half-truth). This excuse has worked out SO WELL that it’s gotten me off the hook during the rest of the year. If we take a day trip to visit friends or family, when I’m ready to go, i just tell them that Aidan or Corinne needs a nap and we’re on our way.

Cassandra March 4, 2009, 9:25 PM

When my husband and I first married our parents hated each other. Which meant that come holiday season there was a tug-of-war with us right in the middle. My husbands family and my family also hold their celebrations about 3 hours away from each other. The first two years we would get up bright and early and rush to his families celebration and stay long enough to say hi to everyone as they arrived and then we would rush to my families celebration to get there just in time to tell everybody bye as they were leaving. It finally got so bad that the next year at Thanksgiving we left town and did not spend time with either side of the family. Fortunately our parents have since became alot more civil and they now try to schedule their celebrations where we can attend both festivities.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 8:45 AM

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