It happens every year. Two sets of grandparents (or in some cases, three or four sets) are staring at you, calling out to you the way Annie did for the dog Sandy, wanting you to choose them for the upcoming holidays. You and your family want to start your own holiday traditions, but how do you do that when your mother-in-law insists you spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with them and your own mom is crying that she never gets to see the grandchildren?

It’s a delicate juggling act to be sure, and young families are often left feeling stuck in the middle all while trying to find time for their own holiday celebrations. It can be especially hard if the people vying for your time don’t live anywhere near each other.

In our house, we alternate Thanksgiving and Easter by year. Odd numbered years like this year (and 2019, 2021, etc) we spend Thanksgiving and Easter with my husband’s family. Even numbered years (2018, 2020) we spend with mine. It’s the most fair way to be sure we see everyone.

Christmas is a different ballgame. My husband and I decided together that we want our children to wake up at home Christmas morning, and we don’t want to travel. This can be a point of contention for my in-laws because my parents live less than five minutes from us, so they come over Christmas Day. My in-laws are five hours away, so a day-of visit doesn’t happen, though we always invite them to come to us if they’d like. We arrange other plans to visit them some other time during the kids’ break from school.

Other families do things differently. Some decide to host all extended families at their home so nobody ends up left out. Others choose to travel hours to different parts of the family making Thanksgiving and other holidays a lesson in back roads and looking at lights through the car windows.

While there is no one right answer, the big thing is to decide what works for you and stick to your guns. If you want to wake up Christmas morning in your own home no matter where that is — do that. Don’t let teary-eyed grandmothers or demanding uncles force you into doing something you don’t want to do. You and your significant other need to decide what’s right for you and your children without worrying about what everyone else wants. Then you discuss with your respective families and make your plans with them.

Regardless, try to take everything with a grain of salt and a generous sprinkling of grace. These family members want to celebrate with you and your children and that’s a wonderful problem to have!

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