It sounds like you have a loving but difficult relationship with your family.  You will probably need to make a choice this year between spending the holiday with your family or with your boyfriend’s family due to the distance between the households. Of course, there is also the option of having an independent Thanksgiving and spending that time with your boyfriend and some of your mutual friends.

Here are some factors to consider in making your decision.

1) Are there any special reasons that it would be important to go to your family’s Thanksgiving this year, rather than his family’s gathering?  Some reasons might be that this is the only year (or last year) that certain members of your family will be at Thanksgiving. This could be due to a family member having a terminal illness, a relative who will be moving to live abroad, or a special relative you really want to connect with who is rarely at your family’s gathering.

2) How well do you feel you can handle the inevitable stress associated with seeing your family this particular year?  If you are in a pretty good place and don’t have too many external stressors in your life, this might be a good year to participate in the family Thanksgiving. Another year might not be so good.  Perhaps you can create a new set of expectations with your family around this tradition. Instead of attending your family’s Thanksgiving every year, perhaps you could alternate spending Thanksgiving with your family, your boyfriend’s family and possibly even going away for Thanksgiving or celebrating with your own friends some years.

3)  You love your family, even if you don’t always like them. You should think carefully about the fact that you love them and want to have some kind of meaningful relationship with them and how this balances against your own separate needs and comfort or discomfort in being around them.  Sometimes it is more important to express our love through action even if this produces some discomfort than it is to avoid that discomfort entirely. It may be a matter of scale: how severe the discomfort and the relative importance of being with your family on the holiday.

Keep in mind that you can also carve out quality time to spend with your family at other times, either near the holidays or in between the holidays.  These times can sometimes be less stressful and more time-limited: a few hours rather than all day or all weekend. I would also suggest considering your boyfriend’s feelings and the how his family feels about being with the two of you on the holidays. If this is also important to him and to his family, it is also important to take his family’s needs into account.  These decisions are complicated and require self-honesty and communication. Whatever you decide let your families know with tact and kindness.