Will y’all send all your good thoughts to the Winchester house next week, pretty please? We’re staying in Florida for Thanksgiving, and I’m attempting to make my grandmama’s famous Turkey Dressing for the first time all by myself. It’s KPW’s favorite, and he swears it’s not officially Thanksgiving without it. Spending the holidays away from your family can be a bittersweet part of getting married, and I remember having a bit of a meltdown as I approached our first married Christmas, knowing it meant my first Christmas Eve not with my parents and baby sister. Whether you’re celebrating with your new family or you’re riding out a holiday solo with your darling husband, I have a few ideas for how to make the holidays a bit brighter.
It’s good and healthy to embrace the traditions of your new family, and to remember that they are likely just as beloved to your significant other as your traditions are to you. But it can be fun to do a little blending. Talk with your husband early in the planning process about something you’d like to introduce his family to (ideally something that doesn’t clash with one of their established traditions). Maybe it’s a Thanksgiving dessert, or something that goes in every stocking year after year at your house. Letting your new loved ones in on of your special traditions is a great way to make your family feel close by, even if you’re apart.
Make it a point to spend a little one-on-one time with your new husband doing something that will be special just for the two of you. Perhaps you can go on a morning walk to get coffee before the hustle of Thanksgiving prep is in full swing? Or sneak away from the family and drive around to look at Christmas lights after supper. Kyle and I drag our Christmas stockings (from each other) upstairs and open them by ourselves at bedtime on Christmas night. The best part is that we can do this little tradition regardless of which family we are spending the holiday with!
I begged the rest of the married SW gals for a few tips based on their personal experiences, because, after getting married, we’ve all spent different holidays away from our families. I hope it gives you a bit of extra encouragement and perhaps a little inspiration for the upcoming holidays
Emily: Think outside the box. My family has come to hold the actual dates of holidays quite loosely, and to celebrate when we can be together. (It’s actually a bit of a joke in the SW office, as the girls see me taking “Christmas vacation” over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend!) Home truly is where the heart is, and we’ve found that Christmas is also when we are together. This allows us to travel to celebrate with both families, which is our highest priority, and to not go crazy rushing from one house to the next.
Amber: We love the opportunity to host our own holiday dinner (even if it was just the two of us!) featuring not only dishes or recipes we grew up on, but a few new ones to start our own traditions. Decorating for the holidays is something I enjoy immensely, and instead of being disappointed that my family wouldn’t be visiting and able to enjoy all the festivities, I scheduled a FaceTime date with them to do a little tour of our home including all the inside holiday decor and the outside Christmas lights! I even made hot chocolate and Christmas cookies for the occasion.
Marissa: With our families living in different states, my husband and I have yet to have the chance to celebrate a combined family holiday, so before we got married we decided to alternate years. Thanksgiving with one, Christmas with the other, then each year it switches. Though we have had to be a bit flexible, having a system in place has helped deter hurt feelings, on everyone’s part! However, no matter how loved you are by your in-laws, it’s never easy to be away from ‘home’ for the holidays. Making a point to FaceTime with my family has helped to ease missing them. And even having a rescheduled holiday before or after the actual day helps feel like I’m not missing out on anything.
Photos by Blue Ribbon Vendor Jen Dillender, from Christina and Blair’s home tour
Part of the fun of getting married is blending two families and two sets of holidays schedules and traditions together. Remember to give yourself a little grace as you work to figure things out. Do you have a great tip for how to spend the holidays away from your family? Please share below!