Holiday Headaches


Dear Pen,

2014 has been a great year, I met and fell in love with a wonderful guy, his wife is becoming a great friend, and as the holidays approach, I feel like celebrating. Problem is, holidays are full of traditions, and family, and as a secondary partner, I’m sort of the outsider, not sure what it’s fair to ask for, but don’t want to spend the holidays alone. Help?



Dear Hope,

Congratulations on your new relationship! It sounds awesome. Holidays can be stressful for polyfolk. Families don’t always know about, or welcome multiple partners. Established couples can find it difficult to change long-held traditions when a new partner comes along. Add in multiple holiday parties, the question and cost of gifts, and Uncle Joe, who can’t figure out who this pretty new stranger is at the holiday table, and it’s tough.

On the other hand, all partners have rights, and the desire to celebrate with those you love is a valid and important issue to address. It comes up not just in winter holiday months, but on birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, etc. What you sort out now, will help you navigate all the wonderful life celebrations yet to come.

Of course, my first suggestion is communication, with your partner and if possible, with your metamour. Share your thoughts about being included in celebrations, and your hopes for a solution that works for everyone. People in relationships juggle holidays, unpartnered people juggle too. Divorced parents, newlyweds, children of estranged parents… Nearly everyone has conflicts, but you have options at your disposal.

In my traditional family, we have four Christmas celebrations, my children bring the grandkids for an overnight in mid-December, and we have “1st Christmas”, just the thirteen of us. On Christmas Eve, we celebrate “2nd Christmas” with my in-laws, on Christmas Day, “3rd Christmas” with my mom, siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins, and on the day or weekend after Christmas, “4th Christmas” with my Dad and his family.  

ThreesCompany1This year, we’ll host an additional Christmas celebration, with our current poly-partners. Though that new event is still in the planning stages, we will likely make it simple, but meaningful, with dinner and gifts, maybe a show.

Thanksgiving is another story… we’ve managed to get all the sides of our family together for one big celebration, nearly fifty people at a local lodge, eating one huge meal and watching football. This year, we’re also considering a poly-community Thanksgiving meal, if we can find a good weekend on the calendar.

Our children and grandchildren are in blended families, and sometimes have to alternate with us, and their other parents and families. Finally, BikerDude and I have some traditions that are just ours.  We shop for our grandbabies together, and we set a date-night for hot chocolate and Christmas lights.

As you can see, you might suggest rotating celebrations, hosting your own party, and designing certain rituals and traditions that have special significance for you and your lover. You can also attend celebrations with your partner, or alone, and it will likely be necessary to do both. You may also find yourself at home, missing out on a celebration you’d have liked to attend, for any number of reasons. When this happens, I encourage you to focus on the positive.

Use the time to wrap presents, or to plan something special for your sweetie. Or, take advantage of the time alone to give yourself a gift. Look forward to the things you’ve planned that will make the holidays enjoyable, and make memories with your loved ones when you can.

It’s as important to be flexible as it is to speak up and ask for the inclusion. Poly holidays are no different than other aspects of having multiple relationships, time, energy and finances are our limited resources. With some discussion and negotiation, balance can be found.

That said, I think it’s time for me to pull out the google calendar, and tackle the next three months. For more great ideas on making the most of poly holidays, check out these links:  

DON’T WALK ON EGGSHELLS. BE YOURSELF INSTEAD! - Relationship 10X with Reid Mihalko - Transform your relationships 10-fold in just 10 minutes a day - “Expression” video.

GUIDE FOR SECONDARY PARTNERS - Franklin Veau’s “More Than Two” advice on successful secondary relationships, including Thoughts on Becoming a Secondary, and a Secondary Bill of Rights.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - With the traditional mainstream holidays coming up you may wonder what to tell your family about your lovers, or other important people in your relationship dynamic. Should they come with you to Grandma's house? What will that nosey Aunt say? Does it really matter?

IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN - It's that time again: Time to figure out the Holiday Schedule. What tips can you offer for a smooth poly holiday season?

POLY FOR THE HOLIDAYS - Cunning Minx’s Polyamory Weekly Podcast #297 - Advice on the ins and outs of being poly around friends and relatives during the holidays.

HOLIDAYS - Polyamory On Purpose - Options for juggling holidays in a polyamorous world.

With plenty of ink and love,

I’m an ink-stained, messy, poet-girl, sharing life with three lovers, via frequent-flyer-miles, long drives, love letters, and texted poetry. I’m a vocabulary addict with embarrassing penmanship. You can send questions for the Ask Pen column to Find my poems and personal essays on this poly journey at, and my most recently published poetry in Literary Sexts Vol. 1. (Words Dance Publishing)

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