Holiday dilemma

William T. Robinson, Jr.

The year brings about a multitude of holidays to be celebrated with loved ones and friends. The difficulty that awaits many married couples is the decision of whose parents or loved ones will be the recipient of their visits or time spent with on specific holidays.

Some holidays are monumental and traditional in scope such as Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving when compared to others, making it extremely hard entertaining the possibility of not being present. These targeted holidays are usually prioritized and highly marketed as times when loving families are united, celebrating the occasion and manifesting the gifts of family, love, closeness, laughter and camaraderie.

Some holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or birthdays can often be compensated with by phone calls, cards, flowers and gifts—minus one’s personal presence. Holidays like Memorial Day, Independence day, Father’s day and Labor Day are about grilling and entertaining family or friends—locally, for the most part. The intimacy of being with immediate family is not always necessary. However, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are about traveling, no matter how long as it takes to be with respective families, if possible.

The decision about with whom to spend traditional prioritized holidays is only made more complicated when you come from loving families who feel holidays are somewhat empty and even depressing when loving family members are absent. This strong feeling to be with family (basically your parents) during holidays attests to the power of love when one is raised in a close, nurturing, and loving family. Families value being together, especially during the main holidays.

This is usually not a problem for many single adults who automatically choose to be with their immediate family when possible with no conflicting concerns from a significant other who may want to be with their family. However, couples that want to be together during special holidays are often confronted with deciding whose family or loved ones will be the recipients of their presence.

Make no mistake, most adults love their parents and want to be with them on these memorable holidays. These holidays are made even more special considering loving childhood memories. But be mindful, the feeling to have your children or loved ones home for traditional holidays is stronger for parents whose children may live out of town, because they may not see as much of them as they’d like.

The conflict comes when married couples both want to be with their parents and loved ones on special holidays, especially Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Deciding which parental family to spend the holiday with can be very contentious, made even harder when children are involved and grandparents are vying for these holidays with their grandchildren.

What is the compromise? Do spouses bargain and determine whose family gets specific holidays? Do they decide with whom to spend holidays by taking turns, alternating each year? This is a problem visited upon most married couples. The most advantageous scenario is when each spouse’s family lives in the same city and arrangements can be made to spend time with each family on these special holidays. Everyone wins.

The mere fact that most people want to be with their respective families on holiday is a testimony to the power of love that is found in most homes. It gives life substance and meaning. In marriages, it is not always easy deciding where to spend special holidays; however, mutual respect and fairness can bring about a viable compromise.