It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unless you’re 4,000 miles away from your family and are miserable to your very core. I live with my boyfriend, though, so all should be ﬁne. I’ll be spending the holidays with his family instead of mine, which is great since I love them and stuff—it’s just foreign terrain so I’m struggling. Not spending Christmas with my own family, especially my mum, feels wrong. For the most part I’ve gotten past the denial phase and have moved onto the “Now how the hell do I do this?” phase. If you’re spending Christmas with somebody else’s family like I am, here’s how to brace yo’ self.
Keep an open mind
Get pumped! I’m excited that I get to spend Christmas with good, friendly, loving people. They’ve drank copiously and laughed ﬁercely at every family gathering I’ve attended thus far, so I doubt Christmas will be any different. Your partner’s family won’t likely have the same traditions that you’re used to, but it’s important to—warning, mom metaphor coming up, abort abort—go with the ﬂow. The best thing to do in this situation is to have minimal expectations. I mean this in the sense that if you’re used to your family going all out with decorative and festivities, don’t be disappointed if your partner’s family opts for a more low-key route. If you’re used to keeping the Christ outta Christmas, don’t be shocked if your partner’s family attends a Christmas Eve church service. Regardless of what will happen the day of, go into it with a good attitude and you’re bound to enjoy yourself.
Start new traditions
Every year, my mother gets so excited to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and it’s adorable. And I only recently realized that not every family does this. What if my partner’s family wants to watch The Christmas Story? I loathe that movie with every ﬁbre of my being, but accepting that families are different is key to making this work. It’s important to respect each other’s traditions, no matter how much you might wanna take the Scrooge route.
Keep in touch with loved ones the day of
Hilariously and coincidentally, I started watching Alﬁe on Netﬂix while writing this and just heard Jude Law’s character say “…It all dovetails into the second loneliest night of the year: Christmas Eve.” It’s true! Christmas can be extremely lonely, but luckily Skype exists. I plan on calling my family on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and being able to chat face-to-face will make us the distance between us a bit more bearable. As important as creating new memories is, it’s equally as crucial not to forget your roots. Be sure to not only make time for your own family, but make it a priority.
Bring (appropriate) gifts
Unless you know your partner’s family very, very well, it’s best to get something that everybody will love. Bring gifts the whole house can enjoy like bottles of wine, baked goods, books, DVDs and kitchen utensils. I plan on making cute hand-drawn cards for everybody as well, since I’ve done this for my own family every year since I can remember.
Stay woke about the whole thing
After all—it’s just one day of the year. So if you feel uncomfortable, lower the hype and treat it like any other day. In the future, you and your partner can alternate Christmases and spend the holidays with your family next year. A solid compromise. There’s no need to panic, because you’ll return to the nest eventually.