Around the holidays I always seem to hear other married couples talking about how hard it can be to share time between both families. There always seems to be this desire to be "fair" when it comes to how time is spent during the last few months of the year. Some couples drive 5 hours to be with one side of the family Christmas Eve, then drive 7 hours in the opposite direction to make it to the other side of the family's Christmas dinner. In the end, more time and money is spent traveling than WITH family. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the holiday season? Maybe; for me at least.
M and I decided very early on that it was important for us to have Christmas at home once we have children. We don't want to be dragging them to and fro in order to please everyone else. I think I might also have a slight aversion to this since I come from a divorced home where the holidays were always split. Since that isn't exactly where our life is at right now, we had to decide how the holidays would be split between our families in the meantime. From the VERY beginning of our engagement, this was something we discussed. We didn't want this to become an issue AFTER we were married, because the first year is hard enough in itself.
In the end, we decided that M's family would get Thanksgiving that year, and mine would get Christmas. This is what is realistic for us considering our families are now spread across the country. The following year, my family would get Thanksgiving, and his Christmas. Although it has been somewhat challenging to stick to this arrangement (especially because my family is going to Hawaii this year for Christmas and it's not our year to spend with them), it has been a HUGE help to us. There's no waiting until the last minute to tell one family we won't be seeing them. There's no hurt feelings because it has been established from the outset that this is how things would be. There's no competition over what set of parents is having the "best" holiday celebration and therefore gets our attendance. There's no crazy travel agenda in hopes of "fitting everyone in" so feelings don't get hurt. It relieves SO MUCH of the pressure.
I know some couples struggle with setting boundaries with their families after they get married. But it really only comes down to one thing: your marriage. When you get married you need to understand that you now have two families. However, what matters in the end, above all, is your marriage. As a couple, you need to work to protect your relationship above all things, even if that means not seeing your parents for Christmas or your grandparents for Thanksgiving. Your family is now your husband (or wife), and so as long as they are there, you ARE with family during the holidays. I would encourage you to do what is best for your marriage, even if that means you have to sacrifice time with one side of the family. This might look differently for you, but this is what works for us.
How do you "share" the holiday season between your family and your in-laws?