Our Most Important Christmas Rule: No Extended Family

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Christmas. We love this season at our house, and growing up, it was a magical time for us with our families. After you have kids, as you know, everything changes. Suddenly you’re trying to find the balance between family time with both sides, extended family, and out of town family, all the while still making time for the new little family that you have created. This balancing act during the holidays and stretching ourselves very thin led to our rule of “Just Us” on Christmas Day. 

Let me tell you that in the beginning, setting this boundary was really tough. You want your kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and the whole shebang to have plenty of time together, and for everyone to have a chance to shower them with holiday love. Declaring to the family that Christmas was just going to be a day for “us” seemed selfish and a little cold-hearted at first. BUT, let me tell you …this has been an eye-opening and really amazing thing for us. 

The Why

Our family is huge. On both sides, we have 5 kids in each family and a quite large extended family. Most are scattered between Oklahoma and Texas, so coordinating trips can be really challenging with 3 small kids. On top of that, carving out time to see everyone, exchange gifts, celebrate holiday birthdays, and just get together for some good old fashioned holiday fun was something that we try and make happen as much as we can in November and December.

We both have worked in the hospitality industry for a number of years, so working late and working on holidays was  always a part of the territory. Our families know this and have been super understanding of “Christmas” not really needing to happen on Christmas. The DAY OF was actually a day that we knew we would both be off, and it became super important to us to spend that day with our kids and alone as a little family of 3, then 4, and now 5.

It became a day for us to create our own traditions. Part of the fun was figuring out what those were going to be, and then sticking to our rule of those things being just for US. It has been special. It has been magical. And it has been ours. I won’t bore you with the details of our own personal traditions, but it definitely involves staying in pajamas all day, cooking what we want, doing what we want, and not entertaining at all. Just sitting back to enjoy this little family and the magic that is looking at your kids on Christmas and the pure joy that radiates from them. 

The Caveat

Before I get too many side-eyes or judgments for this hard-lined rule, let me explain that this rule was created to merely protect our time as a family and place the importance on our family unit as one. Do we still love getting together with our families? ABSOLUTELY YES. In fact, we wish there was more intentional time carved out for each side of the family to spend precious moments with our growing children, as time is so rapidly passing.

Every year, no matter what, we always get together between Thanksgiving and Christmas with our extended families to celebrate. Usually, this involves: Birthday festivities for my mom, Christmas light looking sessions, coffee shop hangs, Secret Santa gift exchange and “Christmas” on another day with the whole fam. For those far away that can’t make the journey, we try and send a little magic their way through the mail, and something we strive to work harder on is FaceTime with the out of town family during the holidays.

Just because we have this “Just Us” rule on Christmas day, it is not meant to take away time from anyone else, it is simply meant to carve out really special time for us. So far, it has been one of the best parenting decisions that we have ever made.

2 COMMENTS

  1. As a grandparent and with not such a large family (medium sized) I kind of get it. But I cherish spending Christmas at least most of the day and part of Christmas Eve with my children and grandchildren. It is one of the few times with crazy and conflicting schedules we all try to get together at once each year. They usually start their morning with “ just us “ time and then join us and for that I will always be grateful. It’s the best thank you for what I do for them throughout the year.

  2. That’s wonderful! I love how every family has their own traditions and rules that work for them. Time together is so special. Happy holidays to you and your family!

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