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Mom Shares Her Simple Solution For Dealing With Two Sides Of The Family Hosting Thanksgiving — 'You Do Not Have To Go'

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large family celebrating Thanksgiving

The holidays are a wonderful, magical time, but the family part of it can make things really stressful, really fast. Even if you get along with your family, once you're married you have two families to contend with, and it can easily turn into a tug-of-war.

One mom on TikTok has a simple solution, and it's something we all need to give more consideration to this time of year. 

The mom shared her fix for dealing with two sides of the family hosting Thanksgiving: 'You do not have to go.'

Most of us have been there, whether it's because we've married into a family, our own parents are divorced, or simply because we're just lucky enough to have received multiple invitations: You end up spending your entire Thanksgiving or Christmas on the road, shuttling between houses, trying to keep everyone happy instead of enjoying the holiday yourself. 

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Mom and TikToker Blaire Allison's take on this perennial dilemma is simple: You are not required to do this and you are allowed to say no. Can it really be that simple?

The mom described the trap of feeling like you have to 'go everywhere' and 'please everyone' during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"You do not have to go to someone's house on Thanksgiving or Christmas or any holiday if you do not want to go," Allison said emphatically at the opening of her video. 

   

   

"If you do not have the time to go, if you do not want to drag your kids there, like, you don't have to go." She went on to say, "Stop feeling bad for not going places on the holidays if it doesn't work out for you and your family."

Allison used herself as an example. Two divorced parents meant there were not just two houses and sets of parents to cover on the holidays, there were four. "So you can only imagine the amount of Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners that we have to go to," she said. 

She explained that the stress would often cause arguments between her and her husband, "because I was the type of mom that was like, no, we have to go everywhere, we have to please everyone."

   

   

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She says it's unfair to yourself, your kids, and your family to put them all through the stress of pleasing everyone.

Pleasing everyone, Allison said was "not possible," but she took things a step further. "You know what? It's not fair to children," she said because they felt the stress too. 

"It is not fair to children that they get home too late on Christmas Eve. It is not fair to children that on Christmas Day that you have to rush them to open their presents … because you have to make sure they're at the next place by ten or 11:00 a.m. It's not fair to them."

   

   

She closed her video by urging parents to put themselves and their kids first at the holidays, not other family members. "Do what's best for you and your children, not what's best for other people."

Setting boundaries during the holidays is hard, but we need to normalize choosing to participate in ways that best fit our needs even if that means not participating at all. 

I come from a family like Allison's, where not just my parents are divorced, but some of my siblings-in-law's parents are divorced, and "coming home" for Thanksgiving or Christmas meant driving all over hither and yon keeping everyone happy. Turkey at mom's, pie at dad's, and don't forget to drop by the in-laws three hours away too. 

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Every year, it would result in someone — or multiple someones — having a breakdown from trying to manage everyone's expectations and disappointments. One year I caught my sister-in-law crying in the garage and when I asked her what was wrong she said, "I need to scream." So we got into my mom's car so she could shriek into the upholstery. What is the point of this? Is any of this even fun? 

   

   

Not really! Therapist Julie Mayer Norvilas told us back in 2021 that the number one must-have to get through the holiday season intact is to "prioritize your health and self-care." To do this, it's imperative to, as she put it, "set boundaries with yourself and others around what you’re willing to participate in and when it’s time to step away." 

If you're a parent, this includes setting boundaries for kids, too. And no matter what your family arrangement, Norvilas said a vital part is setting expectations with loved ones and making sure they're realistic.

It's natural to want to give our families the perfect, Hallmark movie holiday, and if you can pull it off, by all means! But for most of us, it's simply not possible. There isn't enough time, money, and energy in the world, and it simply isn't worth it.

mom shares solution for dealing with two families hosting ThanksgivingPhoto:  Yuganov Konstantin / Canva Pro

But the only way we'll ever make space for ourselves to opt out of this madness is by insisting we're allowed to do so, and normalizing it as a valid choice.

Allison is right. Put yourself and your family first, and if it disappoints your mother-in-law or Aunt Betty? Well, there's always next year.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.