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  • Grace Jensen

#32 Balancing Traditions, Families, and Finances During the Holidays


Grace and Zach are back, with tips on how to handle holiday traditions, balance family time, and keeping the gifts inexpensive but meaningful. They kick off the episode with a new segment called “We’re in it With You,” a time to describe a recent experiences in their marriage--either positive and negative--to let you know you’re not alone (2:30). 


The two then tackle the complex topic of how to share holidays between families (13:45). Grace and Zach focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the principles can apply to all holidays. Think through the year and decide which holidays you as a couple think are the most important to spend with family. 


When both sides of the family live near each other, determine what aspects or traditions of the holiday are the most meaningful to each of you (15:50). Is Christmas Eve really important to one part of the family? Is time together on Christmas morning more important to another part of the family? Decide as a couple how to divide your time and energies. Next, determine how much your family willing to work with you (18:00). Communicate with all parties so plans and expectations are clear. You may need to experiment year by year until you find a system that seems to work best. Finally, our hosts remind us to reserve time for relaxing and being on vacation (21:45). You might need to say no to some activities.  As Brene Brown says, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” For more tips on how to create time together as a couple while on vacation with family, see episode 18 here.


Grace and Zach then discuss how to handle holidays when your families live far apart from each other (24:30). They acknowledge that the first several years of not being with your nuclear family might be hard. Hang in there—you’ll discover traditions and relationships with your spouse’s family that you’ll look forward to. Be patient with yourselves and other family members. Grace and Zach encourage using technology! (26:15) Skype, call, text with family not in the area--but do so in ways that show respect to the hosting family. Our hosts encourage the mindset of using the time with your spouse’s family to learn about and better understand your spouse (27:00). Reserve judgement on traditions that seem odd to one spouse (27:40), and be open to contributing a tradition of your own to your spouse’s holiday experience. 


Next, Grace and Zach talk about how to develop your own traditions (30:20). They throw out ideas for how to make cheap, newly-wed versions of things like Christmas trees and lights (32:00). Creating traditions with friends can also be fun, such as hosting a graham cracker house contest (35:55). Grace and Zach have started writing letters to each other and to Jesus each Christmas (37:15). The goal is to create traditions focusing on meaning rather than money (39:00).


The next topic is how to buy gifts for everyone in your life on a tight budget (39:45). The first tip is to use credit card points (41:20). Grace is a strong advocate for starting to shop early in the year and going for the meaningful gifts (43:00). Utilize your resources, like using the tools provided by your university or tapping into the talents and knowledge of friends. Another tip is to tag-team the shopping, you know, since there are two of you (50:50). Lastly, consider combining holiday gifts if it allows you to give a more expensive present (52:40).

The two end with a thought from each. Zach encourages a spirit of love and forgiveness during the holiday season (56:15), and Grace speaks to those who’ve had difficult experiences with Christmas (57:15). If you have a challenging relationship with your in-laws, DM Grace before Friday, December 6th to get your questions answered in next week’s episode. 


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