Balancing the Holiday Family Shuffle

It’s definitely very obvious when the “holiday season” is over. The hustle dies down, the cold really kicks in and we are back to our routines. The exhaustion of entertaining, celebrations and winter-break finally hit us and a vacation is in order! Ahhh a vacation…that would be real nice right now!

As of late we have had many conversations with our friends about how it gets so hard to manage all family “obligations” around the holidays! It all starts around Diwali for most of us and does not end until after ringing in the new year. Being that most of our parents are immigrants to this country, most of them did not have to worry about being present for both sides of celebrations. But for our generation, it is completely different. Most of us have our parents and in-laws side here and while it is a true blessing to have that (and for us even to all be in the same state), it can be challenging too when trying to please everyone.

We are sharing some of the way we “try” to manage this shuffle of family obligations and how we divvy it up best we can. Being that we also want to start creating specific memories for the kids, it is important to us that we “divide” up the special occasions so that the kids start to associate the holiday with a tradition. As amazing as it is to have everyone at everything, we understand that it is difficult for everyone to be everywhere, especially with different and large groups of families and friends. Sometimes we feel that it takes away from the exclusivity of the event and the importance it holds for each family and for us individually. We also think that this gives the grandparents a special time to just be with ‘their’ immediate family without the pressure of entertaining the whole bunch and to spend undivided quality time with their kids and grandkids, the time we know they value so dearly.

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So for example, for Paryushan, or as we call it ‘Jain week’, Sheena and Dipti usually spend a lot of the week with their in-laws at their place and with each other at their temple. This week is usually specific for them with traditions on what to eat, different prayers and different rituals that are specific to the week of celebration. They enjoy this time with their in-laws side family and friends when they all share a special connection of their religion that Sheena and Dipti are still learning about. The rest of the Vaid family is respectful to their needs during this week and wish them well when they break their fast on the last day.

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For Thanksgiving, Nina usually celebrates with her in-laws side as they love to have Thanksgiving in a very traditional way – wake up, light breakfast, cook all day, prepare the turkey, friends and family trickle in throughout the day and join in the snacking and cooking, and finally the feast in the evening. It is understood amongst the whole family that Nina, Neal and the girls spend Thanksgiving with her in-laws side. Meanwhile, Sheena and Dipti have a very laid back vegetarian Thanksgiving. Every year it is a different host that is determined a month or so before the holiday. It is usually between the Vaids, Dedhias, Sheena or Dipti. Their celebration is a 100% vegetarian Thanksgiving (tofurkey and Italian food) with both sides of the family, friends and there is always football!!

For Diwali, since the three of us were little, the entire Oak Tree Road (in Iselin, NJ) community gathers at our parents store, Nina Jewelers, and we celebrate Diwali together there. We start with the Chopra Pujan (prayer to the new books for the upcoming year) and follow that with dinner in the store. We ALL come together at the store for this occasion; all of us, the kids, the in-laws, friends and family – every year – same tradition. We gather at other Diwali get-togethers on both sides of the family during the holiday season, but Diwali day has always been a tradition and its nice that all the extended families join us in this celebration.

For Christmas, we always have a Christmas Eve celebration at Mommy Vaids house. It is a huge party, with 40+ people (family and friends) that both everyone from all sides of the family attends. Afterwards the three of us, our hubbies and kiddos all sleep over and in the morning the kiddos wake up in matching jammies and open gifts while the adults have Dunkin Donuts and coffee and chit chat until lunchtime. Most of our holiday celebrations always end up big so that we can accommodate all (Vaid, Dedhia, Raoji and Patel families) into the celebrations. We are so gracious that whoever hosts the holiday always makes it a point to include our extended families so that we can all be together.

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For New Years Eve, we all do our own thing with our own friends but we always make sure to send each other a message or quick call to wish each other a happy new year. As of late, it has been low key celebrations that revolve around the kids, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. It is always fun to celebrate this fun evening with them (especially doing the kid version with the Netflix kids new years countdown)!

Keeping some separation and some togetherness really allows for us, and we think for the kids, to feel like there is a special time/holiday/tradition with each of their grandparents and with each side of their family. There is also importance given to each holiday so kids can focus on the importance of the holiday and traditions that are being made year after year. Being that this started early on, the parents on each side also have a mutual understanding and respect so that they too get their alone time and together time with the “whole” family!

How do you manage the ‘holidays’ with your families and extended families? Is it hard to make some separation? Have you struggled with the guilt of ‘not including everyone always’?

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