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20-40-60 Etiquette: A traditional Christmas?

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You may be able to incorporate some of your own traditions into Christmas with extended family. [Thinkstock image]

You may be able to incorporate some of your own traditions into Christmas with extended family. [Thinkstock image]

QUESTION: When visiting in-laws out of state for the holidays, what's a good way to respect and love their traditions while integrating a few of your own at their house, particularly if you're not going to see your own family for Thanksgiving/Christmas?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: My husband and I have tried to come up with our own family traditions. This way, no matter where we are, we are celebrating our own small family.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: if you can easily incorporate some of your own traditions into their event without interrupting the flow of theirs, then ask your hosts. After all, they likely have been in the same position you have before — that of enjoying new traditions with a new family while still wanting to enjoy the ones with which they grew grew up. The best way to enter the holidays is with lowered expectations so you can enjoy the holiday you have instead of the ones you miss.

HELEN'S ANSWER: Holiday traditions are important and if there is something that means something to you, then communicate that tradition to your spouse and your in-laws. I am sure they would be receptive to your favorite Christmas dish or ritual.

But, enjoy the new traditions, too. By incorporating your's and your spouse's customs, you will come up with some excellent ideas for your own celebrations.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Joe Hight, University of Central Oklahoma journalism ethics chair, and president of Best of Books: It's important to honor their traditions first. But most people are open if you want to bring a dish and incorporate something small that reminds you of your own favorite past holidays, even far away.

Just ask what you can bring or make the suggestion to your spouse.

For example, my in-laws were open to including whole cranberries, a favorite of mine from my own family's holiday meals, into their feasts.

Finally, if at all possible, try to find a way to see your own family this holiday season. That's a tradition we should all try to maintain.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email helen.wallace@cox.net.

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