Spending the holidays with your extended family can be heartwarming, magical, and special — for you and your kids. But at the same time, it can be stressful, annoying, and traumatic to return to old family dynamics. Not to mention the hassle of traveling during the dead of winter on crowded planes and highways.
Donald and Monica Bailey have looked at the pros and cons, and they’ve decided to start sitting the holidays out when it comes to seeing their extended family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s been a half-decade, and they couldn’t be happier with their new tradition of keeping it nuclear.
“Five years ago, we stopped inviting our family to Christmas,” they explain on a TikTok video. “One of the best decisions we ever made for our family was to choose to spend holidays with just our immediate family. Meaning, me, my husband and our kids.”
Why? For them, it was a matter of feeling stress and obligation that took the specialness of the holidays away.
“As much as we love those people and love spending time with them, we realized that it often brings a lot of stress and a lot of obligations that people really don’t want and it doesn’t let us enjoy our holidays.”
How do the holidays look with just four people around the table?
“We do Thanksgiving here with just our family,” Monica explains. “I make all the food, and it’s just us and our kids. We’ve chosen to spend that day in a very conscious way to say, what would make the best possible Thanksgiving for us? We want to spend the morning relaxing as a family and have it as a time to say, ‘What went well this year? What did we love? What do we want next year to be like?’ And we set some ideas and brainstorm some things that we want to focus on in the next year.”
The pros keep adding up, too. They don’t have to worry about logistics or family dynamics.
“And it’s great because we never have to fight traffic. We never have to worry about, ‘Oh is it going to be awkward? Are we going to be late?’ We’re not living our holidays for everybody else.”
Down in the comments, people had very mixed reactions to their holiday strategy. Some were totally on board.
“Congratulations on focusing on your own family,” one person wrote. “Holidays are stressful. We started doing this 2 years ago. Best decision we made.”
“I dreaded Christmas for YEARS,” another person shared. “I did all the work and the family just showed up. Now it’s just the four of us and it’s magic.”
But many more thought that they were missing out, big time, on one of the most important aspects of the holidays.
“So sad,” one person wrote. “My best memories are the crazy extended family Thanksgivings and Christmases. Your kids are missing out.”
“What happens when your children do that to you? Family memories with grandparents are precious,” another said.
“Sure holidays are stressful, but I can’t imagine my children spending their holidays without their grandparents and cousins,” said another.
Monica responded to some of the negative comments by explaining that her extended family’s toxic behavior was a big reason that they started staying home.
“When you have dysfunctional parents, Thanksgiving without them is a win,” she wrote.
That’s probably information that should have been included in the original video — if you don’t get along with your family, then definitely don’t spend your holidays with them!