The Great Christmas Debate…

So, you’ve hung the decorations, are slowly ticking presents off your list, the cards are written and you’re planning the food. But come Christmas Eve where will you be this year?

When I first met Pete I was so lucky and after only a year or two he joined my family for a couple of Christmases, interrupted by a stint in Australia. Eventually he wanted to go home but I wasn’t ready to try a Christmas away and I missed him so much. I think there’s something about Christmas… for me it’s all about being with the people and that someone that you love. But what do you do when they have people they love too and it’s crunch time?

Image Credit: Green Wedding Shoes

My problem was as much not wanting to be anywhere else at Christmas other than home, as my Mum not wanting me anywhere else. We’re not a big family and apart from my Mum being possibly Christmas’s number one fan, that left just the three of them, including my sister which makes for a pretty sorry Christmas celebration. So I felt guilty.

But I couldn’t feel guilty forever because every Christmas I made Pete spend with me I know he missed his family too. It wasn’t fair and it was selfish. Eventually my Mum nobly conceded that we would have to take it in turns and I had my first Norris Christmas.

Image Credit: Kirtsy

Part of the thing about Christmas I think, is that you build traditions as you grow up. Whether it’s midnight mass or the pub before Christmas lunch, a Boxing day party or carols on the village green, the perfect Christmas is often what you’re used to. In my case that involved a lot of socialising, parties, dressing up. The Norris Christmas was so different with carols in the freezing cold around the village Christmas tree and games in front of the fire. It took a bit of adjusting but it’s now right up there for me on an equal footing with a Christmas at home.

This year, it’s my turn. Christmas in Southport with my family and I will miss the Norris Christmas. But it’s made me think what the perfect Christmas would be. I long for the year we will hold a family Christmas in our house. I’d love to meld together the festive celebrations at my house with the yuletide cheer of Pete’s. Masses of people, pets, children and food. Chaos and music and laughter and joy, everyone we love together.

So share with me your Christmas dilemmas – Where are you having Christmas this year? Has it caused arguments between you and your beloved or family, and what are your solutions to making it fun but fair for everyone?


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18 thoughts on “The Great Christmas Debate…

  1. This is such a sore subject for me! This Christmas will be our tenth as a couple and we’re yet to spend a day together. In some ways we’re lucky as our parents live really close so we each go to our respective old homes and then see each other Christmas evening, but it feels like a major compromise to me, it’s just what’s expected of us. (This is even before I go into my moan about my mum inviting the whole extended family for Christmas dinner and then getting too preoccupied having fun to cook lunch meaning I have to do it)

    Just once I’d really like to have a quiet, romantic, coupley Christmas where we prioritised each other rather than everyone else.

    • I know! It’s a funny one isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to not have Christmas with my family, BUT I’d love to have a really indulgent christmas just the two of us at some point. Can’t see it ever happening though!

      • I got married on the 11th Dec last year and last Christmas was the first one that I’ve not spent with my family…

        It was just the 2 of us, together all day in our new Christmas PJ’s and doing what we wanted… It was lovely, but very very quiet. Coming from a HUGE family, I’m used to children and food and music and laughing all at full volume. This year, we’re at my parents place, so the Husband has a treat in store!

        It’s so hard isn’t it?!


  2. I got married just over a week ago (whoop!). Me and the now hubby have never spent an actual Christmas Day together yet. We both enjoyed our family traditions too much to give them up for each others. This year we are undecided but have thankfully been given ‘permission’ from our respective parents that we can go wherever we want for Christmas – no pressure. I would like to spend it in our flat, starting our own wee traditions. It’ll be different and quieter than other Christmas days we’ve had but then we can visit everyone else and continue the festivities for days and days! My other half is unconvinced but i’m working on him 🙂

  3. My husband and I both travel a lot for work and neither of our respective parents live near us or have big family Christmas dos. As a result, even before we were married (this will be our second Christmas as man and wife), we spent a couple of the last Christmas days together, just the two of us. This has been great to be honest, relaxing, informal and chilled.

    We normally then spend a few days with both sides of the family, treking across the country to do so and will be doing it again this year, although we have an adopted cat this year so it will be lunch visits only. In fairness relatives are invited back to ours, we have my sister to stay at Christmas this year and his sister a few days later, so it is not all one sided.

    I’m not sure either set of parents love it to be honest, but we both need quiet Christmases and we try manage everyone’s expectations early on – discussions start in September!

    I’ll be interested to see how everyone else works it…

  4. My in-laws emigrated to Spain a few years before I met my husband, so I’ve been really lucky in the 8 years that we’ve been together that he’s always joined my family for Christmas day. However, last year (our 2nd as a married couple) we spent it just the two of us in our own house (with our dog for company). It was so indulgent and just sheer bliss. We ate what we wanted, when we wanted to and watched whatever Christmas specials we wanted to without having to compromise with any aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents etc. In fact we enjoyed it so much we’re doing it again this year, we’re going to visit my parents (who live about 6 hours away by car) next week and then have our own Christmas again, I can’t wait! Like you Rebecca I also can’t wait for us to build our own traditions and have everyone round at ours at some point (love the idea of a house full of people, pets, children and lots of food and laughter) but right now we’re making the most of just the two of us 🙂

  5. This has never been a problem for me. My parents don’t celebrate Xmas so I have always been invited to spend it with Martin’s family. When we bought our first house, we decided to have Xmas at our house and that way we could have his Dad over (his parents are divorced), so its just the 3 of us and we quite enjoy it!
    Though this year I got the sense that my Mum thought she was missing out and she decided to invite herself round! Nothings come of it though and it will be me, the husb and the pa in law again as usual.
    I really love having Xmas at our house (esp after years of not having any Xmas at all at my parents), I feel for those couples that have to make so many compromises to keep everyone happy.


  6. Aha. Interesting subject Rebecca! For the first time in 30 years of my life I have this dilemma too! My sister and her new husband and baby are with his family, so it’s just me, my parents and Granny. However, they got invited to a friends so I got – well – left behind. So, this year I’ll be spending it for the first time in 9 years with my boyfriend and his family. It is seriously hard to break a habit of a lifetime, I’m not massively looking forward to it, we had certain traditions that I’m used to (bucks fizz on tap, nat king cole, real fire, presents at 5pm). However, I guess as with everything in life, we have to step out our comfort zone, do things for other people, and well – just grow up. I’ll let you know how I get on – though he better make sure I at least have bucks fizz on tap as I’m not sure I’ll cope otherwise 😉

    • Ha! You’ve hit the nail on the head Charley – I struggled not to make my family out like alcoholics but we have bucks fizz with smoked salmon for breakfast and pretty much take it from there – that was a change! xo

  7. My husband and I both have remarried parents, meaning FOUR sets of people to visit on Christmas. Last year we travelled round to everyone and I still had to work quite a lot in between Christmas and New Year. By New Years Eve I was really ill and ended up in bed with flu when I should have been out being proposed to!

    We still don’t really know how to balance it to be honest. We alternate Christmas Day between his Mum’s or mine, and then try to fit everyone else in whenever we can. We did spend one Christmas with friends, which was AMAZING, but we suffered for then still having to fit everybody in after that.

    I do love seeing everybody but, frankly, the Christmas period is a logistical nightmare. If I didn’t feel so bloody guilty I’d just tell everyone to get lost and spend it just us and the cats.


    • Penny – I totally hear you with the divorced parents/numerous visits/work in between etc etc.

      I am EXACTLY the same. We usually manage to make it around three sets of parents (with three, yes really!, Christmas Dinners) on the day itself, and then have a further two lots of visits on Boxing Day.

      Whilst I love my family to bits, it is hard for us to get around everyone and enjoy ourselves too… we simply just don’t have the time! The hardest part is that my husband and I are both only children so we can’t even share the responsibilities with any siblings.

      We do, however, make sure that we spend Christmas Eve together and spend some quality time on Christmas morning alone, at home… before the madness begins!


  8. Its always a tricky time, especially when you have your own family and want to create your own time as well as work with the larger family. My parents are divorced so for years it has been christmas day with my mum and boxing day with my dad. Now add to that my husbands family and the fact we have a little boy and it seems to add to the confusion to keep everyone happy, spend time with them all and for them all to see their grandson over the Christmas season. We have implemented a 3 year turn around. One year in london just me, my husband and our son; one year back in the lakes (where I am from) spending time with my family and one year in london with either my mum or my dad visiting and my husbands parents coming to us too. Somewhat confusing but seems to be working so far!

    As long as everyone feels included and gets some time it seems to work.
    The joy of the modern family 😉

  9. We’ve only spent one Christmas apart in our 8 years together as we got together in October so the first one would have been a bit nerve wracking! I’m sure my mum was pretty upset when I first told her I’d be spending Christmas away but she remembers the same problem when she was younger so was very good. There has only been one Christmas where I felt compromised, the first one after my grandma died, I felt I should have been with my mum as it was a difficult time for her but it was the bf’s parents turn, it ruined it for me and ever since we’ve remained resolute in not having a “rota” and keep everyone guessing.

    The different traditions still gets to me though, in laws don’t open their presents until 6pm- what are they thinking?!

  10. Oh Rebecca, I was just thinking earlier today ‘oh I wish someone would do a post on Where To Spend Christmas’ and you’ve only gone and done it!
    I love Christmas and it’s traditions but since being with Paul (this Christmas is our 7th together) its become something I dread. Like Penny we’re both from divorced families with a parent each to visit over Christmas and Boxing Day. Paul’s mum and dad only live a couple of miles apart but mine are much further, meaning I’ve spent the past 6 years doing a ridiculous amount of driving and not enough time drinking and generally relaxing.
    Whereas I’m ready to start sacrificing and alternating parents so that we can be ‘a couple’ at Christmas, he’s not. Then there’s my mum who insists it’ll be ok when I do spend it at Paul’s, but visibly welled up when I toyed out loud with the idea of doing it soon. You can’t win and like you Rebecca, I CANNOT FRICKIN WAIT until we can host and have everyone come to us! Which it will…. In time… A very loooong time… Xx

  11. I can so relate to all of you who mentioned travelling around and being worn out at the end of it all or just not enjoying things. Pete and I did the same thing a few years ago arrived at mine on Xmas eve, headed to his on boxing day and I was back in work the next day, exhausted, feeling like Christmas hadn’t really happened! It was then that we decided we would do either one house or another and do it properly. It’s definitely been a decision for the better 🙂

    Hope all of you find a way forwards that works for everyone, if not this year then soon! Xo

  12. Ooh this is such a good post as we have had numerous conversations about this. Its such a headache as we both have 2 siblings each and all of them have their inlaws too so its hard to please everyone and get all of either side of the family together at one time.

    After much going back and forth this year and my sisters both having inlaw commitments but me not wanting to leave Mum and dad on their own – Mum and dad are being very grown up about it and have decided to have Christmas on their own. Then my side of the family including brother in laws and nephew are having another christmas (excluding turkey) on the 28th. To be honest I’m not that happy about it as it will be the first christmas ever for them without children but never mind and actually apparently they are looking forward to it !!

    However this means all of H2B’s family are coming to our house and I am cooking christmas lunch for 8 adults and 3 children – Slightly daunting but am hoping everyone will pitch in and help as they live locally…

    With regard to traditions I totally agree its hard to let go – as H2B is south african – their christmasses arent hugely christmassy (!) and are quite low key whereas our family like to have a big traditional christmas with board games in the afternoon etc…

    I will definitely be incorporating my family christmas into their celebration – that reminds me I have to buy some board games 😉 xx

  13. As much as I see the difficulties (and potenital business) of having 2 families fighting over you for Christmas, I think you’re lucky you can compromise and still get to have your traditional family Christmas & traditions, even if it is just once every 2 years or for half a day. My parents moved abroad ten years ago and come back to the UK once a year but it’s not practical to come at Christmas so I have only seen them for Christmas once since then – when me and my brother went over there. As a result, I have had one Christmas alone in my flat (I made steak and sprouts and watched Christmas films all day, it was quite nice actually! My brother always went to his best friend’s.), one with a friend, one with another friend and one working a shift in a hospital (also surprisingly fun!). Then I met my husband. We had been seeing each other for 11 months when Christmas came around and I was invited and have been there every year since.

    Luckily for me, his family, although Indian, celebrate Christmas in a similar way to how we used to but I still missed certain traditions – even though it was nice seeing how so many other families had their own traditions and they were all SO welcoming to me interloping on their Christmas! I have even managed to squeeze a few of our traditions into my husband’s family Christmas – they used to wear PJs all morning but we always used to have to get dressed up before pressies were allowed – as a result, when I was all dressed up, they all joined in too and seemed to enjoy being a bit more spangley in the morning 🙂

    This Christmas (my first as a wife) I asked them if they would come to us this year and I have a few more of my own traditions I want to introduce! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful set of in-laws and they are looking forward to a different Christmas with us this year which I am so grateful for! Both brothers (mine and hubby’s) are coming too and at least we have Skype these days to let my folks join in a bit! SO excited!

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