In the nine holiday seasons that I’ve been writing APW, I’ve been working on figuring out our family holidays. (Given that it’s been almost a decade and counting, I suspect that it never really ends.) We’ve gone from the early days of being engaged and trying to make the rounds at our family homes to start the process of integrating the new person into family celebrations. Then there were the early years of marriage, where we tried to navigate being a “baby family,” and getting… really any measure of respect as a family unit of our own. We slowly learned the skill of telling people (nicely) that we were going to do what worked for us, and that was that.

It turns out the holidays, like weddings, are good practice in setting boundaries with your families, figuring out what works for your family unit, and even creating new traditions. And all that practice paid off when we had kids. With our first kid, we were still willing to haul ourselves all over the great state of California, with a screaming baby and exhausted parents. But by the time we had two small kids, we decided that the performance was over. If you wanted to see us in December, you knew where to find us… at home.

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This year was our third holiday season with no travel and the freedom to create the traditions we wanted (and toss the ones that we didn’t want). And just like the last two, it was magical. We got tiny toy grab bags for the kids for Hanukkah. We had our first school holiday recital! The kids discovered the magic of The Nutcracker. We decorated our bonkers white and silver tree with the collection of ornaments that I inherited from my grandmother—each one more beautiful than the last. We had friends over on Christmas Eve, had a splendid amount of cocktails, and ordered Indian food. We gave the kids just a few presents on Christmas morning, had a holiday breakfast, and then went out to join the other Jews (and Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims) enjoying San Francisco all to ourselves. We had a Boxing Day Open House. December was packed, and lovely, and perfect.

All that said, there are still traditions I want to kick to the curb. Christmas Dinner, and all its related cooking? I’m over it. And all the planning and present buying that the holiday entails? I’m starting that in September next year, to try to save my sanity.

Our holidays were not perfect… because, well, are they ever? There was an emergency room trip on Christmas Night, for starters. But after nine years of figuring things out as a couple, they were generally a delight.

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But as always, I want to hear about your holidays. What worked? What didn’t? If you had to balance the holidays between two (or more) families, how did you make that work? What traditions are you loving so much you think everyone should do them? What traditions are you just so over? And what do you want to remember to do differently next year?

How were your holidays? Good, bad, and ugly, we’re here to chat about all of it.

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