Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Planning For Extended Family Christmas - Four Christmases

Yes, four Christmases. How many do you have? Ours get kicked off today.

Dan's Paternal Nana

Nana and two of Dan's aunts are visiting us today, weather permitting. We exchange a small gift with Nana and are going to give a few pictures to the aunts. Daniel is pretty excited to see them. He loves it when Dan or I are chatting with either Nana or "Auntie" on Facebook. I expect a lot of rough play with "Auntie" today. She is a gem of an aunt.

My Mom's Family

We alternate Christmas between Dan's family and my mom's family. This year is Dan's family's turn, so we see my mom's family on Christmas Eve. There is a massive gift exchange here, with everyone buying everyone else presents. On Christmas Eve, my mom hosts a get together. I like to help her with the cooking. My kids love to play with her young step-children.

Dan's Maternal Nana

We will be going to the home of Dan's maternal Nana on Christmas day. We exchange gifts with Dan's parents and Dan's Nana. I love my in-laws, especially Dan's cousins, who have become dear friends. We went from seeing them several times a week to seeing them a few times a year, so we are looking forward to seeing everyone. Most of Dan's family hasn't met Thomas yet. Even though our children are the only ones of their generation, we expect a lot of playing to be going on.

My Dad's Family

We always get together the week after Christmas. We go to an all you-can-eat Chinese restaurant, then go back to my sister's house, that used to be my grandparent's house. We do a small gift exchange, where everyone buys for everyone else, but nothing big. My Dad sells stuff on ebay for a living, so he gives out the yard sale stuff that wouldn't sell.

My Multiple Christmases Tip

My non-tightwaddish but sanity-saving holiday tip for people with a lot of Christmases: buy a package of disposable diapers. That's my solution for pretty much all hectic times. It's my Christmas present to myself. I get a week without washing cloth diapers. I don't have to bag up poopy diapers and take them with us in the car for two hours. I don't have to explain anything about cloth diapering to family members, because no one will ask.

Do you have any tips on surviving many christmases and hectic holidays?


Scottish Twins said...

Ugh. I hear you about the cloth diapering thing.

I usually use disposables when we have family functions and I will be away from my house, however, my youngest has a HORRIBLE diaper rash right now and if I even touch him with a regular diaper or a chemical wipe his poor bottom looks like it is burned.

It looks like I'll be cloth diapering through the holidays this year!

Clisby said...

Jack Daniels. OK, just kidding. Wine will do.

I feel exhausted just thinking about your Christmases - that's my age showing.

Most of my husband's family is in Ohio, and mine is in S.C., so we never visit both families on any holiday. Once we had children, we laid down an ironclad rule that Christmas Day was always spent in peace in our own home. We'll have a big family dinner at my mother's house on Christmas Eve - at least 3 of my siblings will be there, too. We don't give gifts much - every once in a while someone gives a small gift to my kids, but it's not expected. I was so relieved when the entire family quit giving presents to each child. Back when my nieces and nephews were little, *everybody* felt called upon to give a gift to *every* child. At one point, I was carefully choosing gifts for 7 nieces and nephews. I had fun picking out the gifts - I'm not being Scrooge - but I have 5 siblings, and every one of them was giving to the same 7 kids, and that's before you even got to parents, grandparents, and Santa. As a parent, it would have driven me crazy to have to deal with all that stuff. Emily, I'm one who has never doubted that your family loads down your kids with gifts just because that's what they do - my family used to be like that, but they recovered.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily,

It's my first time writting a comment on a blog. I have been reading your blog from the begginning and I really enjoy it even if we live in very different worlds. I wanted to wish you and your familly happy holidays and thank you. We have made many changes in our life in the past 6 years and I'm becomming more and more frugal. It is one comment that you made that helped me overcome one of my last hurddles. You said something like you cannot be lazy if you want to live the frugal life (or something like that!!). It hit home with me. I was always wondering how come I could not lower my grocery bill even more??? Well I just had to stop being lazy and find excuses and start cooking more and shop the sales more.

Thanks again and best wishes for the holiday season.
Sorry if it's not all clear I'm a french canadian so I'm not always clear in english.

Marie from (very cold and snowy) Canada!!!

Our Family Is His said...

This year we told family that we would be spending Christmas day at our home. The boys would get to open their presents, celebrate Christ, and all without having to run out the door to the next party. Stress is not part of Christ's birth. OK, Mary might have been a bit stressed during contractions in a barn, but... (and yes, I know Christ wasn't born on 12/25, it's just the day chosen to celebrate)

Then we get the boys in their jammies and head to my Mom's for the night. The boys fall asleep and wake up the next morning at Nana's. They get to celebrate at her home.

Then, we get the boys in their jammies and head to hubby's parents house. The boys fall asleep and wake up the next morning at Grandpa and Grandma's house.

We just refuse to put stress into this holiday. It's not about us, how many presents are given, how good the turkey was, or if we get to a family celebration on time, or even at all. It's all about Christ and we make sure to keep it about Him. It just makes life so much simpler.

Mrs. Money said...

Wow- that is a lot of Christmases! We are going to hang low this year at home. Our family is 5 hrs away :(

Kori said...

I had to laugh at the disposable diapers part of it; that IS a good gift to yourself! just really wanted to stop by and tell you Merry Christmas, and that I have really enjoyed reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

We have a lot of Christmases too! We did my mother in law's side of the family last Saturday. Tonight is my parents. Tomorrow is my mom's side of the family. Christmas morning we do our Christmas, in the afternoon we do my dad's side of the family, and the evening is at the in law's house. Sunday is my father in laws side of the family. So, 6 other houses to visit. It is crazy!

Anonymous said...

I fully support the disposable diapers, and I'm sure you got a good deal on them!
Merry Christmas!


Carrie said...

This year we just decided to stay home and do our own stuff instead of traveling home and thenn trying to see everyone. Merry Christmas!

heather said...

see...disposable diapers-there is a gift to help YOU! i still hold out hope that you will pick a *fun* gift for yourself...maybe just a book or CD. i hope you and your family have a wonderful christmas.

my parents are less than a mile away and we celebrate there. they have a chimney for santa, well that and our home is just not big enough for entertaining. my husband is estranged from his family, so that makes it's a bit easier (but not happier, well to me...he's ok with it).

MamaMay said...

Oh! How I wish I could buy one pack! My kids are HIGHLY allergic to disposables. In fact anything that contains Aloe Vera, I and the kids are allergic to. This means no disposables of a female nature for me as well.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading for a while, but haven't really commented. I've enjoyed your posts. Whenever my husband sees me reading your blog, he says..."that's what we need to do! It's obviously do-able." Our mortgage alone is over $1000 per month, but my husband works full time (at a Christian school). Our remaining monthly budget is very tight. Thanks for inspiring us to make more of it. Merry Christmas to your family! And congratulations on the disposables for the season! That IS a gift.


Melissa said...

That is a lot of Christmas's. We've cut things down in the past few years and with four children under 7 now we are glad we did. My coping during the holidays with all the family events was usually copious ammounts of my Grandmas rum punch or beer if I was at other places :P. Now, with the children I bring toys/games/clean crafts to keep them entertained. Visiting family during the holidays usually means "grown up time" for talking and almost always the children are ignored which is sad. They are however a great excuse to leave early.
This year we are having Christmas Eve as a family of 6 at home, Christmas morning also just us. If local family want to come visit they can do so before 3pm. Then we head over to my husbands parents for dinner and then early home. No early morning car rides out of town to visit or driving to see others who are local. Much easier!

Anonymous said...

We're staying home and traveling on the 26th to visit my family in CA. I will be staying there a week or two while my partner travels to England to visit his family. I think having Christmas just to ourselves may end up being one of our traditions.

I'm interested in hearing about your gift haul lol! -Cris

Stacy said...

Good gift--diapers. I think when you're out and about, you need to give yourself a break.

We're on a really tight budget, maybe not as tight as yours, but still tight for us. We're pretty much only buying presents for our son, my mom, family gift exchange (2 gifts) and our part time babysitter. We feel fine about it. My husband has a humongous (sp?) family, and it's really not possible to buy gifts for everyone, so we buy for none (to give you an idea, the Christmas Eve get-together usually has 60 family members, but if everyone came it would be over 100). Anyway, for that event, we have a gift exchange where everyone buys one gift for each person in your family who will participate. I'm regifting a little with some PartyLite candles someone gave me, and for the other one I'm making a cookie tin assortment.

That's about it for us this year. Oh, and we bought a $5 Christmas tree on clearance at Lowe's--we felt pretty fortunate to see those since we were just going to skip the tree this year.

Going minimal is giving us major peace of mind.

Kendra said...

Hubby and I declared an end to Christmas traveling about 3 years ago. Now we stay home on Christmas and vow to not leave the house. We celebrate with my family in early December and are estranged from hubby's family so don't include them into the mix at all. Holiday stress is basically nothing since this decision. We all love it! Our families and friends are always welcome to stop by for dinner, but we don't travel.

Love the color on the blog. Also, I really enjoy the blog Emily. Keep up the good work.

Captain Cleavage said...

lol we have multi christmas destinations too! this year we are going to them but next year we are doing christmas atour place. we are lucky in that our families all live close together so we celebrate over a 2 day period and then take the day after christmas off to recuperate! lol

Colleen said...

Merry Christmas!

The disposable diapers are a great gift to yourself! When we took a trip to FL a couple months back, I decided there was NO WAY I was hauling and laundering diapers on a plane and bought a package. It was a lifesaver! Just make sure you have some diaper rash ointment- like a PP said, sometimes our son's poor little butt gets so irritated with disposable diapers and chemical wipes :(

Rachel said...

Not only do I have divorced parents to deal with, which means two Christmases, but I deal with fibromyalgia as well. I slow down, breathe, do a little each day. If I waited till two days before Christms to shop for gifts, like my sister, I would end up in bed with a major episode! Sometimes I think illness is so God can get us flat on our back, thinking of Him. And it does not have to be perfect, that used to be a big hang up for me. oh, and paxil helps out too!

Treva said...

When we lived in VA there were at least 3 each year -- immediate family at home in the morning which included my parents; my grandma's or uncle's for extended family; and then my daughter's other grandmother's which did part of at her house and then walked to her aunt's house for the rest of it. This year is our first in IN and we found on Thanksgiving that my husband's family wanted us to host Christmas, so we'll have our Christmas morning to ourselves and then the late afternoon and evening the family will be here for dinner. Even though I am preparing the bulk of the food I think the day of will be more relaxing than I'm used to.

eccentricterri said...

This is a bit late but I just found your blog today. It is already found a home in my google reader. Your family is doing an amazing job living the simpliest most sustainable life possible in an apartment.

My suggestion would be to start holiday traditions with each part of the family side of the family. My parents always did Christmas day at home with just our family. The weekend after Christmas would be to visit my paternal grandma's house for a huge family dinner that my aunt prepared. The weekend after New Year, we went to maternal grandpa's house for another big family dinner. It was great for us because we knew what our holidays had in store. We never had to rush from one house to another. We just enjoyed Christmas!

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