You just said your vows, and now it’s time for your first holiday season together as a family. It’s the most wonderful time of year, and it’s the most wonderful time of your lives. But navigating this time together can be fraught with trouble if you don’t plan accordingly.
Spending the holidays together and with your extended families is fun and difficult, depending on your situation, but there are ways to do it without causing (too much) friction. Remember that you should be cognizant of the wishes of others, but you don’t have to cave to all demands.
If you live far away from your families, getting there can be a challenge. Many holiday movies have been made about the challenges of visiting family for the holidays, so it’s a perennial issue. If you’re lucky, your parents and in-laws live in the same town, so you can visit with everyone in one trip. Some families chose to divide up the holidays, such as Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas or Hanukkah with the other. You can even alternate which family you visit each year.
Once you have bought a home, you should consider hosting the holidays. That way, you get to decide what to serve and how to manage the family. Plus, it’s a great way to break out all of the exciting wedding gifts you were recently given. You can have everyone at your house, and you’ll never have to travel. That said, hosting is stressful, too. You have to have enough space, be able to host out-of-town visitors, be considerate of everyone’s needs, and decorate the home.
The great thing about starting a new family, whether it’s just the two of you or you and some kids, is that you get to start your own holiday traditions. You can choose to adopt some traditions from your own families, alter them to your liking, or completely start anew. Consider making an ornament that celebrates your first holiday together, volunteering to serve dinner to the homeless, shopping for kids in need, or driving around to see holiday lights.
If you’re decorating, make sure you know how to do so safely. Here are some tips:
● Keep your live tree watered -- A dry tree is a major fire hazard, and they can set a home alight in about a minute. Keep them away from fireplaces, heat sources and high-traffic areas.
● Watch your ladder -- If you’re hanging lights, make sure that the ladder you use can support your weight and can extend three feet above the roofline.
● Make sure your lights are correct for the job -- Indoor lights go indoors and outdoor lights go out. Some can be used for both. Make sure you know what you have.
● Place the breakable ornaments up high so that pets don’t break them and leave pieces of glass all over the place.
● Check the chimney -- Don’t use your wood-burning fireplace until you’ve had it inspected. Creosote buildup inside the chimney can cause a chimney fire, which can do major damage to the chimney and even set the house on fire. It doesn’t cost much to have it inspected and cleaned, so you’ll be able to sip hot cocoa in front of the fire in peace.
However you choose to celebrate the holidays, don’t forget to spend some quality time together. It’s easy to get swept up in family obligations when you’re being pulled from one family to the other and from one holiday party to another, but the holidays should be a time to create special memories. Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy it together.
- Julie Morris