How To Survive the Holiday Shuffle With Your Kids

Holiday's with Family

By: Jordan Elizabeth

Having gotten married this summer, this is my first year truly experiencing the holiday family drama - specifically, where my husband and I are going to spend them.

I’ve been with my husband for five years, so navigating holidays isn’t entirely new, but in the past we haven't always been together for holidays. Now that we’re married, I want to be together, which means splitting holidays   And that makes me feel like a 10-year old child of divorce in front of a judge who’s asking me “who do you want to live with?”

The hard part was telling our parents that we wouldn’t be spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with them. Our parents get along very well, but as soon as holiday talk comes, all of a sudden it feels like we create our own competition of where we’d have the most fun, whose turn it is, who needs us more (obviously my parents. Just kidding. Maybe) or “will Jordan’s niece give everyone the stomach flu again this year?”

My family is further away and we don't see them as much as my in-laws, who are local, because it’s a real mishegoss to fly cross country and board our dogs. But his father has been ill and hasn’t been doing well, so obviously we want to spend time with him. As the youngest in my family, the inability to please everyone is crushing. And pressure from both sets of parents doesn’t help.

This year, my husband and I decided to spend Thanksgiving in Denver with my family and Christmas at home, in New York, with his family. When I told my sister that, she was really disappointed that I wouldn’t be there to see her kids open their presents on Christmas morning. Then my Dad wondered why I was only coming for 4 days for Thanksgiving and not 2 weeks.  Which...I would, if they offered to pay my rent this month! And pay for my dogs to be at daycare. Totally willing! 

I felt like I couldn't win.

The thing I wish my parents understood  that not being at every holiday is an inevitability of being in a relationship. You want to be with your partner on the holidays, because that’s your family that you’re starting. I don’t think parents and grandparents always remember that the holiday shuffle is more stressful for their kids going through it than it is for them!

I think everyone puts so much pressure on the holidays (I blame Hallmark and Macy’s) to the point where if everyone isn’t in the same room celebrating each one like you’re in a seasonal Gap ad, then they’re ruined. Listen, I love the holiday season as much as anyone else, but can’t we all be motivated to see each other and do special things the rest of the year? So what if your favorite daughter can’t make it for Christmas? I say I'll come in January and you can give me gifts then. It’s a win-win!

So, my plea to parents and grandparents this holiday season is to cut everyone some slack and remember that the whole point of this hurricane of plane rides, car rides, tears of joy, pie baking, tears of stress, and gifts is really just to be together when everyone is off of work at the same time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Not everyone has to be there every time... they can come the next week! And if they can only make it for 4 days, you should still be grateful.

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Holidays with Family


Jordan Elizabeth is a comedian, TV Writer/Producer, collector of hobbies, and master of putting off adulthood. She can be heard on the Podcast "3 Dudes and a Broad" and performs stand-up comedy with "Girls Gone Funny." She lives in Manhattan with her fiance and two dogs. Read more about her life at Jordie Elizabeth and follow her on Twitter at @JordiElizabeth.