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When Kyle and I started dating, holiday stress was at an all-time high. Like many couples, we were faced with the challenge of melding traditions and ultimately, creating new ones.

It’s a delicate balance: respect both sets of parents and the complex schedule they reworked for the 20- to 25-some years you followed their lead, while forging a new plan that suits you and your partner.

So we continued the traditions: two Christmas visits on Christmas day, driving about an hour across town. Two Thanksgiving dinners. Mornings with one family, evenings with another.

Trouble was, it was draining. And we never felt like we had any quality time with our families. Instead, we were always keeping an eye on the clock, conscious of where we had to be next. It didn’t feel very relaxing.

So in the past few years, we’ve decided on one family per day. (Say, Christmas Eve with my folks and Christmas Day with his. Visits with extended families happen on the Saturdays or Sundays leading up to Christmas. And Thanksgiving is now smaller gatherings.)

This Thanksgiving, we hosted in our new home. Kyle made the turkey, my mother-in-law came over the day before to help prep the sides, and the siblings and their spouses brought apps and beverages.

The day was wonderful.

And, being one to respect our families history, we used bequeathed china from Uncle George’s china and gravy boat from my mother-in-law (which was passed down from Grandma Vi), and listened to records on an antique player.

I think (or hope) that our family has appreciated the opportunity to create new traditions, but there’s sometimes an aunt or uncle who gives you strife for not making the double-duty visits as they did. It’s not about choosing one family over another, I say, it’s about savoring the time we do have to spend and letting go of the madness.

Of course, some people relish the madness. They love to “pack it all in.” To each their own.

What about you? What new traditions have you created in your family?

Thoughts to share?

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