Aw, your first holiday season together. How sweet! You’re going to bake cookies, watch cheesy Lifetime movies, wear matching pajamas just for the Instagram pic, go to your mom’s house for Christmas Eve dinner…
“wait, I thought we were going to my mom’s house for Christmas Eve dinner?”
Looks like there’s a little bit of a miscommunication.
We’ve all been there. Merging your family’s holiday traditions can be difficult to manage, but I’m here to tell you that it’s completely doable with a little bit of compromise and a lot of understanding. Keep reading to learn how my husband and I split up our own holiday traditions, and for my best tips to doing the same.
As a born-and-raised Jewish gal – Bah Mitzvah and all – married to a CCD-dropout, our situation was likely more ideal than most: we had separate December holidays to celebrate! I feel so lucky to have found a partner who celebrates opposite holidays than me, because we were able to merge our traditions nicely. Thanksgiving was always a big deal in my family, so that one naturally went to me, Ryan got Christmas, and (of course) that left plenty of time to celebrate Hanukkah with my family… considering there’s 8 nights – no need to go crazy.
Side note: my mom is the atypical Jewish mother who could not have been happier that I married a Christian man, because she finally had an excuse to celebrate Christmas.
And I’m excited to have a reason to deck out my house like Santa’s workshop, except 2020 has sort of thrown a wrench in my plans with that holiday tradition this year. I’ll try again next time.
At the beginning of my relationship with Ryan, we went to his family’s home for Christmas, but about six years ago (right as we moved into our first home) we adopted the holiday and now we host everyone! I love the irony: a Jewish gal hosting Christmas dinner. Ryan’s family is so welcoming, though, and throughout the years we’ve had guests from both sides of the family, including my mom, sister, and uncles. The Kleidmans do know how to bring the party, after all.
A great way to rep my people during Christmas dinner is through the food. I always make latkes (or potato pancakes, as the non-tribe members would say) and, if I do say so myself, everyone loves the fried, crispy deliciousness.
Prior to adopting the traditional Christmas celebration, I used to always do the typical “Jewish Christmas” – Chinese food and a movie. So now, a good movie is always a must on Christmas. If I’m feeling nostalgic, we do a late night General Tso order (because when is food off limits?) and I’m brought back to my roots.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, my husband and I were lucky enough to have separate holidays that we celebrate, so merging our traditions was not as difficult as it may be for some of you. I did definitely feel a good bit of FOMO on celebrating our usual “Jewish Christmas” with my fam, but I recognized that I had plenty of other holidays with them.
If you’re having difficulty deciding which holiday traditions to adopt, here’s my go-to advice:
1) MAKE A PRO-CON LIST.
On your own, both of you should make separate pro and con lists about all of your holiday traditions. For a little *spice* you could add another piece to that little assignment and write down what you’re most looking forward to about celebrating the holidays together, or a list of a few activities you could do to celebrate just the two of you.
2) HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT IT.
Sit down (maybe with a bottle of wine?) to discuss which holidays are most important to you, what you’re not willing to give up, and what you’re willing to concede on. Remember to be courteous, compassionate, and understanding during this conversation. You’re both going to have to compromise a little bit, and it will be much easier if you recognize that going into the convo.
3) DISCUSS HOW YOU CAN INTEGRATE PARTS OF BOTH OF YOUR TRADITIONS INTO YOUR NEW LIFE TOGETHER.
Maybe you become the host, and invite both sides of your fam. Or maybe your mom always made a specific dessert on Christmas, so you make it together and bring it to your in-laws to eat over FaceTime with your fam. There’s no set way that we’re “supposed” to celebrate the holidays, so try to come up with an out-of-the-box solution that will make everyone happy (or at least happy enough)!