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How To Be In Two Places At Once: Navigating The Holidays With A Split Family

With the holiday season now in full swing, many are finding themselves stuck between multiple obligations for family gatherings, dinners, and traditions. If you’re trying to navigate multicultural families, spending time with your family and your significant other’s family, or if the two sides of your family just don’t celebrate together for whatever reason — here are a few tips and tricks on how to almost be in two places at once.


Multicultural or split religion families

When juggling the traditions of more than one culture or religion within your family around the holidays, your season may include attending a special church service for one and then a supper gathering for another. You may find that unique mixes of traditions develop as your family has grown; perhaps seeing Jewish latkes on the same table as a traditional Catholic roasted duck, or homemade tamales next to mince pies. One of the most frequent suggestions on how to balance the mix is being flexible, with both your time and energy.


Your family and your SO’s family

Whether it’s your first holiday season celebrating together or your twentieth, balancing holiday time between two families can be a little tricky. For some, it’s as easy as breakfast with one side then dinner with the other, but schedules can also get a little too close to work around and make both happen sometimes. In those instances, a rotating schedule could help you organize your time so that you know ahead of time where you’re going and who you’re celebrating with. For example, if your family has a bigger gathering for Thanksgiving than for Christmas, and your SO’s family is the opposite, this year you could spend Thanksgiving with your family then with your SO’s family the following year — rotating who’s family you spend which holiday with.


Divorced parents

Although we would love to never encounter sticky situations when juggling the different sides of our family during the holidays, avoiding those awkward “I can’t make it this year” or “I can only stay for an hour” texts isn’t always possible. Similar to those who navigate their family plus their SO’s family traditions, a rotating schedule could help alleviate the stress of balancing holiday time between your mom’s family and your dad’s family. If proximity permits it, splitting the days could also work, where you might spend Christmas morning opening gifts with the side with more younger kids who still squeal over Santa Claus then dinner with the side that centers the gathering around the meal prep process.


Communication is key when you’re navigating complex family dynamics and traditions, regardless of what element makes them complex. If any of these situations apply to you, I wish you the best of luck and ease when navigating the upcoming holiday season.

Taryn Deppe


My name is Taryn, and I am a loud and proud TAMUSA Psychology major! Outside of academics, I am a 2 time recipient of the gold level President's Volunteer Service Award, dedicating the bulk of my service hours to working with Guide Dogs For The Blind and serving as an assistant head coach for the MacArthur High School Bowling Program. During my "free" time, I run a small freelance photography business and write fiction, especially romance and adventure. My top five strengths that I lead from are Restorative, Belief, Positivity, Developer, and Relator, summing up to mean that I love people, working with people, and helping people grow!
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