I posted before about my stepmother. Known her for 26 years and we're not close. I am very uncomfortable around her, and spend most of the year avoiding her as she causes me tons of anxiety. I tolerate her for my dad's sake and do a good acting job at least pretending to be friendly towards her. I am married and have a 6 month old baby.
My dad has never spent Thanksgiving with his family(my aunts, uncles, cousins). He's always gone to his wife's family out of town. I used to go some when I was younger, and I went a few years ago before I was married but usually I spend the holiday with my mom. Sometimes we would just go to a restraunt. SM's family unlike her are very nice people. I even have some of them on my Facebook. SM wants me, DH and our baby to make the 2 hour drive to spend Tday with her family. Well then that leaves out seeing my mom and inlaws entirely. Plus we want to start having our own Thanksgiving. So we are having Tday at our house with my mom and inlaws. I told Dad that he and his wife are welcome to come, but of course I know she won't cause spending time with her family(her parents and siblings) is always top priority and I totally get that cause seeing my mom for holidays is also my top priority. SM called me telling me she wants her family to see my baby. Let me take a guess here, so she can put on the "grandma show" and show off my baby to her relatives cause as she has said in the past how it killed her that she's the only one of her siblings that isn't a grandma. I won't be letting her use my baby so she can be the center of attention. I slightly feel bad about going years and years without seeing SM's family. They truly are such caring people, but I just don't have the time to see them around the holidays anymore since I now have 3 families to consider.
Then we have Christmas drama. I have always spent Christmas Eve with my mom. Mom has no other family but me. Xmas Eve is also the day my dad, stepmother and stepsister go to her family (2 hours away). As a kid I would spend Xmas Eve with Mom and Xmas Day with Dad. That worked for a long time, up until my paternal grandmother's death this past year. Now my stepmother doesn't see a point of spending Xmas Day just DH, me, my baby, Dad & SM, and my stepsister. So I guess having Christmas at my dad's was only for my grandma's benefit? Again she wants me to drive 2 hours to see her family. And while her family are nice people they aren't MY family.
So here's our plan for Christmas. We will spend Christmas Eve with my Mom like always. Then Christmas we will alternate between Inlaws and Dad and whoever doesn't get Christmas Day we'll spend New Years Eve with for a belated Christmas or if we have time whoever didn't get Christmas Day (either Dad or inlaws) we'll go over Christmas evening even if other relatives have already left by then. But thats still not good enough for SM. She just can't seem to understand that my husband and I even though we like SM's family feel like outsiders there. So its best for us to spend Christmas Day over at Dad's house with just Dad, SM, and maybe my stepsister. SM's argument is that my stepsister won't want to do Christmas 2 days in a row and how both of us (stepsister and I) need to celebrate together. Stepsis and I have no relationship either. The only time we see eachother is if she shows up for Christmas. The rest of the year i never see her. I'm so tired of my stepmother trying to force everyone to be a big happy blended family which we aren't.
I am sticking to my holiday decisions and if she doesn't like them too bad. I think she's upset cause as a kid I would never stand up for myself and she walked all over me. Now as an adult I stand up for myself and set boundaries and don't just agree to what she wants to do, and she always has to have complete control over holiday plans or she's miserable.
But SM needs to respect that she has 1 family to think about around the holidays. I have my mom, dad, and inlaws trying to fit in seeing everyone and its enough stress to cause me to burst into tears. SM also doesn't think its fair that my mom gets every Christams eve whereas we'll be alternating with Dad and inlaws. Well Dad/SM and Inlaws are married and have other children (my stepsister and then DH has siblings). My mom never remarried and has nobody but me. I think because of that its completely fair to see her every year so she never spends a Christmas alone.
Since I had divorced parents i was always had to leave my newly open gifts on christmas. it was xmas eve and xmas morning with mom, and then off to dad's to see my grandparents and extended family on that side, and then back to mom's by christmas evening. I did just fine, and hopefully my kids will too. But if it does get to be too much then like i mentioned whoever doesn't get christmas day (dad or inlaws) will just have to accept alternating and getting new years eve that year. Or maybe whoever didn't get Christmas day can come over to our house christmas evening so kids can be in their home and get to play with their new toys. That way there is less driving around to see everyone.
I would just say, "SM, I enjoy visiting with your family, but we're already stretched too thin on holidays so that's not the time to try to fit it in. I'd be happy to help plan a get-together with them after the holidays are over so that they can spend some time with the baby."
Your Christmas plan for this year sounds good, and there are plenty of families who are fine traveling around on Christmas Day, so that may very well work for you long-term. I personally like to stay home on Christmas, so we open our home to whoever would like to come visit us that day, but we don't go anywhere. Luckily our parents are extremely gracious about it. Also, we're really conscious to view the holidays as a season rather than a single calendar date, so nobody gets their feelings hurt if we celebrate a day or week before or after. In fact, we celebrate Christmas with my mom a full month beforehand (the day after Thanksgiving), and guess what? It feels exactly like Christmas, because we make it so.
I think your plan for this year with one child is good. But if you decided to have more kiddos in the future are you going to schlep them away from their new things (even if they get few gifts) to go visit relatives? Can the ILs and your Dad's side alternate, or do an Open House type thing at your house on Christmas?
This isn't just a blended family issue. I was one of those kids that got schlepped 60 miles xmas eve to one grandparents and 75 miles xmas morning to see the others. All my siblings and I ever wanted to do was stay home and play with our own new toys. So we grew up and guess what? Most of the time we don't go home for the holidays. We had no traditions of our own, we spent them trapped in the car or at some grandparents house.
Its really difficult cause SM is one of those people that feels all family has to celebrate on the actual holiday. Since she's unwilling to compromise, well just too bad for her. I wouldn't mind seeing her family another time, but i'd of course be expected to drive the 2 hours to their town with my baby cause they never come visit here.
So I think what I've come up with is....
Thanksgiving---- combine with both Mom and Inlaws every year (Dad and Stepmom always go see her family)
Christmas Eve--- with Mom every year (Dad and Stepmom will be with her family every year)
Christmas Day---- either with Dad or Inlaws (and whoever didn't get Christmas Day can come over that evening or see us New Years)
So with seeing our schedule that leaves absolutely no room to see SM's family. I feel badly cause they are such nice people, but once you marry and have 3 families of your own to see it doesn't really leave any room to see a steppparent's family anymore. And as the years go on, I feel even more disconnected from her family cause years go by where i haven't seen any of them. There are nieces and nephews of hers that have married and had babies, so there are new spouses and little children in her family i've never met cause i just don't have the time to visit anymore. Really the only relatives of hers that i feel a connection with are her parents and siblings. Even though everyone in stepmom's family is super nice, I do feel like an outsider there at times.
I grew up alternating holidays with my divorced parents. I didn't ever split up the holiday itself, just alternated years and spent my entire break with whichever one I was with that year. I pushed for the same thing with my step-daughter because I think it is really important to get to really celebrate the entire holiday with whoever you are with. Different families have different traditions, and that is what makes a holiday a holiday to me. So that's my starting perspective, which is, admittedly, different than yours.
So, that said... I don't split up holidays for my kids either. We probably do something slightly different every year-- some years people come to us, some years we go to them, some holidays I spend feeling like an outsider because it is important to my husband for our kids to grow up knowing their entire family. But no matter what we do, I look at the holiday from the kids' perspective. What is it going to feel like for them? What family traditions do I want them to experience? What do they want to do? I don't worry that much about the adults-- if they want to spend the holidays with us, they make arrangements to do so, whether it is traveling to us or inviting us somewhere, or just calling and asking what we are doing. To some extent we have fallen into a routine (for example, we always spend Christmas Eve with the in-laws now) but even those are flexible to accommodate changes (for example, if my parents travel from out of state to be here for Christmas, they will be included in Christmas Eve celebrations with my in-laws). Some things, like traveling to spend Christmas in Florida with my dad and step-mom, by necessity would mean no one else is likely to see us for that holiday, but we will celebrate before or after with whoever wants to.
For me, once I became a parent, holidays became about the kids, and making traditions and memories for them that they will look back on fondly. I steadfastly refuse to make my kids travel on Christmas, but I welcome anyone who wants to come celebrate with them. I respect my husband's desire to spend time with his family for the holidays, and we make sure we are making time with all three sets of our parents... but we make no effort to ensure everyone gets equal time in the course of a single holiday season. They are adults, they will survive, and if it is important to them to see their grandchildren or to have their grandchildren for a visit, they will figure out how to make that happen in a way that works for everyone. And, for my part, I have to be open to occasionally having a less-than-ideal holiday from my perspective in order to include other people... but I also need to set boundaries that work for us. When I remember that I am advocating for my children, not for myself, it makes it easier to stick to my guns and to focus on what is really important.
That's a great way to look at things.
I came from a traditional family. We had the same holidays every year.
My husband came from a divorced/remarried family. When they could afford things, they celebrated, but most of the times they didn't.
We always ask our SD what she wants to do for Christmas. Most times, she says she wants to come to us. We split holidays as we can financially afford, b/c she wants to see her sisters as well. We can't fly everyone to her, it would just be her Dad.
My parents usually come to us, but they complain about it.
My kids don't know his mom.
My father-in-law comes after the hussle and bussle of the holidays every year.
My husband goes to be with his daughter in March for her Bday. And she is with us May-August.
"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life."