Two Sense: Whose House Should We Go to For Christmas?


Every year at the holidays, my live-in partner and I struggle with whose family to visit. His family lives a mere hour away in Sonoma, and we see them several times a year. Mine is all the way out in Boston, and annual holidays are the only time I usually see them. He thinks we should alternate Christmases—one year his family, one year mine. I don’t want to keep him from his family on the holidays, but since Christmas is traditionally the only time I see mine, missing it feels like a big loss to me. What’s fair? Do we switch off, or do I get to see my family every Christmas since I see his a lot more than he sees mine?

He Said: Hmmmm. Shivering under the sheets in freezing, puritanical Boston. Or sipping the world’s best wine in the lush Sonoma countryside. And you expect your friendly advice columnist to be objective? The answer is to bring your family out to Sonoma, and make that the new holiday tradition, even if it means splurging for airfare, renting a van or helping them out with an AirBNB rental. As we age, our extended families get smaller, and so this is an opportunity to double the love and the fun, assuming everyone gets along. Btw, Boston is lovely in the spring.

She Said: If you can afford it, flying your family out here is actually a lovely solution. But if you can’t, or your family is simply too big to migrate here en masse for the holidays, let’s look at the core dilemma (an extremely common one, by the way). Stop thinking of it as either/or and try to think of as many creative alternatives as possible. Option 1: Since you see your partner’s family so often, suggest a two-thirds, one-third Christmas split instead of a 50-50 one—you get to see your family for two out of every three Christmases, but perhaps you spend every Thanksgiving up in Sonoma. Option 2: Spend Christmas with one family, and then fly to spend New Year’s with the other. Option 3: Fly to Boston on Dec. 20, spend several days shopping and catching up with your family, have Christmas Eve dinner with them, and on Christmas morning catch the first nonstop back to SFO. With the time change, you’ll be in Sonoma well in time for Christmas dinner, and I happen to know from experience you’ll have lots of space to yourself on the plane. Option 4: Get your fill of visiting both your families during the rest of the year, and fly off to a warm beach or chilly romantic European capital for Christmas, just the two of you. You might even include a Boston layover in such a trip. I think you get the point. There are lots of ways to slice a Christmas turkey.

“He” is Chris Bull, author of seven books, editorial director of and cofounder of

“She” is Robin Rinaldi, 7x7’s former executive editor, currently at work on a memoir titled The Wild Oats Project.

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