Finding Balance During the Holidays with Family

Isn’t it crazy to think that the holidays are right around the corner? There is nothing like having a significant other during this time of year. What’s even better? Having them ask you to come home with them for the holidays to spend time with their family! With all that feel good news, there is that bit of anxiety knowing you’ll have to make that phone call to mom to tell her that you will not be around for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. Trust me, I’ve been there more times than I can count.

Growing up, I had (and still do have) a very tight knit, Jewish family. Every holiday, Shabbat, Winter Break, Spring Break, etc were spent together. When I started dating my boyfriend four years ago, I knew there would be a day where I would not spend Thanksgiving with my family. Two years ago, that day finally came. While I was just as excited at the fact that I got to go travel and meet my boyfriend’s extended family, I knew that I would eventually have to tell my mom that I will not be with her that year.

I was anxious, not knowing what her reaction would be. Accepting? Full on upset? Either way, I did not want to break my mom’s heart or cause any drama. In order to have that conversation with her, I knew I would have to go into that conversation with a few things in mind.

Here are just a few pieces of advice I have about letting your family know that you will not be with them this holiday season:

1. Realize it’s your life

In order to grow with a significant other, you eventually have to understand that you will one day have a family of your own. It is so important to put yourself out there, and meet those in your partner’s life, while embracing new traditions as well. Family comes from both sides, and I can personally tell you that having guilt about not being home for the holidays is grueling. Your parents have certainly been in your shoes before, and this is all apart of growing up! 

2. Sooner Rather Than Later

If you committed to both your partner and their family that you will be spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with them, it is probably time to let your family know. Rip it off like a bandaid, have the conversation, and get it out of the way. Don’t live everyday with that anxiety knowing you will have to have that talk. Find a moment where your parent is in a good mood, and have that conversation with them either in person, or on the phone. 

3. Be prepared to propose a compromise

It’s easy to go in with a business deal of some sorts. However, make sure to have a talk with your partner about compromises before you propose it to your family. While you have to let your family know, they equally need to let theirs know.

The easiest way to do it is obviously switching Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. One year Thanksgiving at my family’s and Christmas at his, etc. However, if you are Jewish like me, and Thanksgiving is the only holiday you have in common, try and compromise switching off Thanksgiving every year! It is only fair for both family’s to get to experience both of you being around, and it’s just as important to have your partner experience your traditions as well!

4. Send the absentee family a gift the day before

I love sending flowers to my family when I am unable to attend a celebration. The holidays are no different! Prioritize and show not just your family, but your partner’s family you truly care by sending a little something, like flowers, a bottle of wine, an edible arrangement, etc. They will truly know you care by taking a little time out of your day to show them your appreciation, and how much you miss them.

5. Enjoy yourself!

Truly. Don’t get caught up in a guilt trip about not being home. If the talk about not being home for the holidays did not go the way you had hoped, realize it is not your fault. As I mentioned throughout the article, it is time for your family to realize you are grown up. Make decisions based off what makes you happy, not because it is “the right thing to do.” Enjoy the time you are spending getting to know your partner’s family or your partner getting to know your family. These precious moments during the holiday mean more than presents under the tree, or how delicious the turkey was. Memories last a lifetime.

What piece of advice would you give someone not going home for the holidays?



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