It was probably about 6:30 a.m. on July 6th when I saw my first Halloween advertisement. Sleep deprived and running on little more than birthday cake and adrenaline, my wife and I came to the horrifying realization that there was NO MILK for coffee. None. Even the powdered goat milk we keep in the pantry for baking emergencies had been used up during… well… a baking emergency. So off I stumbled to the Stop and Shop, a few hundred feet from our front door, where I encountered a sign hanging in a vacant storefront announcing that HALLOWEEN CENTRAL would be opening SOON!
Before the month was out, before teachers had even accepted that summer vacation was not a permanent thing, the candy began appearing on shelves. And the costumes. And the singing tombstones adorned with zombies eating their own still-beating hearts. And this could only mean one thing…
Thanksgiving would be next.
Each year, The Holiday Conversations in our extended family begin in mid-July, when our little unit begins strategizing with our in-laws to get out ahead of the game. It’s preemptive damage control. Much like leaving a play-date en-masse, we like to present a united front when the parents-in-law begin sniffing around our holiday plans.
Where will we be for Thanksgiving? Can we make three stops in one day again? What about Christmas Eve? Christmas morning? Christmas dinner? New Year’s Eve? New Year’s Day? Have we considered the third Thursday of Advent?
It’s wonderful to be loved and wanted, but we’re working on an intricate parental puzzle here with six to seven moving parts, depending on various people’s relationship status.
I'm slated to host Christmas Eve at my home again, and last year it was fun... except for one uncle ruined it with snarky comments... Read more
The year before our daughter was born, we set up a strict rotation that lasted a good three years: Whoever got Thanksgiving was not eligible for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas breakfast would always go to my dad. For example, if Person A got Thanksgiving in 2010, they would have Christmas Eve in 2011 and Christmas Day in 2012. Our best friends in Nashville could be subbed in at any time. This allowed everyone to plan approximately three years in advance. It seemed perfect. But there’s no such thing as perfection.
In 2012, we scrapped our rotational system and drafted an application system. Our plans for this year’s Thanksgiving were solidified weeks ago, but I’d like to share it here in case anyone finds it useful. I’ve updated it for the 2015 calendar year…
Dear Family Members,
Because you have all recently inquired about our Thanksgiving plans, we are now accepting applications requesting the presence of our humble little family at your Thanksgiving event. Please include the following information in your application (note: applications must be typed in 12 point font, either Ariel or Times New Roman; handwritten applications will not be accepted):
- The date of the last Thanksgiving we spent with you
- Estimated start and end time
- Sample menu (yes, dessert, appetizers and alcohol selection count)
- A list of potential conflicts or confrontations which may arise during this meal
- A list of embarrassing stories you plan to tell
- A list of other invited guests and possible surprise guests
- A compelling reason why you think YOUR Thanksgiving event is more important than anyone else’s
- A dynamic 3-point plan detailing how this year’s Thanksgiving will be better than the one indicated in step 1
- A check, made out to cash, containing the $100 non-refundable application fee
- A notarized affidavit stating that, if chosen, you agree to relinquish your claim to our presence at any Thanksgiving event taking place in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019. If chosen, you will next be eligible to reapply again in November of 2020.
Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Please do not contact us regarding the status of your application. Any such contact will result in immediate disqualification of your application. Decisions will be announced on November 23rd, 2015.
Comments on The Holidays are coming: We dare you to send this hilarious “holiday application form” to your family this year!
And your family actually fills this out? Mine would laugh, and then go back to the usual. We have an every-other-year Christmas rotation between families, but they have to come to us. We’re the only ones with a kid, so we refuse to travel as our child does best in a familiar setting, because holidays are stressful for him. Thanksgiving dinner always goes to my husband’s family because they’re closest.
Nope… just wishful thinking that they did!
This is brilliant, I love it. 🙂
Ha! This is great. My favorite: “Decisions will be announced on November 23rd, 2015. ” For some random reason that brought up a hilarious mental picture of all the parents sitting impatiently by the phone.
Love it! This is our first holiday season with offspring so I’m half tempted to use this on certain newly-minted grandparents.
We like my family better so it’s really no competition for Thanksgiving. And considering that my FH’s aunts are fighting (still, from last Christmas, over something from Easter), we may very well skip Christmas altogether.
My mother-in-law would have a fit. Her whole face might turn red.
Seriously though we’re lucky in that all our friends are with family at Christmas so we just have 2 sets of parents to deal with so we can alternate: Christmas with one, new years with the other, flip it next year.
(Thanksgiving we have at home with just the 2 of us because we’re British and not supposed to celebrate it, but dammit I want pumpkin pie too!)
With three sets of in-laws, I’ve solved the Thanksgiving issue by hosting every year. It can be a tight fit in our little townhouse, but since everyone lives close enough to want us there, but far enough apart that six hours in the car that one day is a definite possibility, it is worth it. Everyone knows they are welcome and there is plenty of food, but I’m not driving anywhere that day.
Christmas is a different story as we have the set routine of Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas morning to ourselves, Christmas afternoon with his dad’s extended family and Christmas night/day after Christmas with his mom’s family. However, everyone has been told that once kids are on the scene, this will change. It took a little while for everyone to get used to, but now that the same thing has happened for five years, they don’t grumble too much. 🙂
This is hilarious! We had a serendipitous working out of all holiday plans for Christmas because my MIL always does Christmas Eve, which means we do Christmas Day with my family. We all live in the same metropolitan area, so it’s pretty easy to commute between. Thanksgiving is a bit harder because we usually end up going to 2 dinners, but my parents and in-laws currently only live about 40 minutes apart, so it’s not a big deal. When my parents move, we’ll have to revisit our Thanksgiving plans, but it’s worked well for the last 5 years or so.
This is hilarious but I think it would offend my family.
I would also consider giving more than a couple day’s notice so people have time to plan in advanced how much food to buy, or invite more people if you decline.
This situation is very true for me, because hubby and I both have divorced parents. His mom and dad live local, as does my dad. My mom lives across the country. I try to rotate, but my dad always gets mopey like “you spent LAST YEAR with his family, spend THIS YEAR with me” when last year I spent the holiday with his DAD and this year it will be with his MOM and next year it can be with YOU, yadda yadda. The more people in the rotation, the more mopey and left out all parties seem to feel. But forget asking divorcees to get along for our sake… I never get to see my mom over holiday due to how far she lives, and she is the least mopey of them all.
During college it was even worse because we both worked retail jobs (basically, store closes early at 6pm on Christmas eve, and we got Christmas day off) so on Christmas eve as soon as we were off work at 6pm we BOOKED IT to impatient relatives’ homes, and every year they all got to fight over the 36 hours we had! One time we decided to invite my dad to his mom’s house for Christmas dinner so we could see all three local parents on Christmas (his mom and my dad both live in the same town). So we were travelling from his dad’s house in a different town directly to his mom’s house assuming he’d meet us there, but apparently he was waiting for us at his house expecting us to make the stop there, open presents, and travel over together (not that he ever told me of this plan) and while we were waiting for HIM to show up he ended up calling and very upset with us, only to arrive an hour late with presents and being all mopey. And another year we asked my dad ahead of time if he had Christmas plans before we made plans with anyone else (it was “his turn”) of course he didn’t respond to us, so we planned to go to his dad’s house instead. He calls Christmas eve all upset that he purchased dinner planning on us coming over, and we were already at his dad’s house instead. Holidays make people so mopey and bad at communicating! One year we just decided to visit NOBODY and it was the most relaxing holiday ever.
“One year we just decided to visit NOBODY and it was the most relaxing holiday ever.”
Ugh, ain’t that the truth? I love my family, but damn, it’s a lot of acrobatics to get everything on the schedule and minimize the amount of moping from everyone. When we get so little time off from work anyway, it makes us feel like jerks to not hang out with our families, but is one day of peace so hard to ask for?!
No no no… we have never actually sent it out– that’s why it only says that we “drafted” an application system. It would offend our family too. In fact, I’m pretty sure that after my wife shared this on her FB page some of them read it and already are offended. Ah, the dangers of writing. We also did a year when we told everyone we were going to someone else’s house and just stayed home for Thanksgiving (SORRY FAMILY READING THIS!! WE HAD AN INFANT! WE WERE DESPERATE!). It was so calm.
Perhaps next I will write about our “Post Traumatic Thanksgiving” dinner tradition… where we use the free turkey we got from the grocery store to stage the perfect Thanksgiving several weeks later.
YES DO THIS. Post about this! Yes! Do it make post post it here yes!
Love it! My husband’s family does an annual “Family Fake Thanksgiving”, the Saturday before the holiday. It’s terrific. Traffic is low, all the proper foods are already in stores, and anyone can meet another obligation the following Thursday if desired. It also includes those who have to work real Thanksgiving, but can arrange a less important day off.
This is fantastic! I wish I had stumbled across it BEFORE holiday season. This was our first as a married couple and even though we’d lived together for three years getting married seemed to make people think that the way we spent holidays would suddenly change. My MIL made a statement about how we “should” spend Thanksgiving at their house, my husband wanted to attempt to do three houses in one day on Christmas, and the whole time I was thinking to myself … what the hell was wrong with what we did for the past three years?
I held firm to that line of thought and we did the same thing. Thanksgiving with my parents as my mother hosts. Christmas Eve we each went to our own aunts, then I left after dinner to meet up with him and say hello to his family. Christmas Day we had the morning together then each went off to our own parents house. I visited his family the Sunday after Christmas, and he’s visiting mine tonight. New Year’s Eve we spend with friends, and New Year’s Day we spend with just each other. Easter we will both go our separate ways again. It’s worked ever since we’ve been together and I feel no need to change it now that we’re married.