Oh, how we love the holidays! Turkey and stuffing. Eggnog, fudge, and candy canes. Decorating and making cookies. Snuggling by a crackling fire. Mistletoe kisses. The holidays are upon us, and for those who are engaged, it is a great opportunity to observe what you like and don’t like about the holiday traditions in the homes in which you grew up. After marriage, couples navigate a new way of celebrating holidays. There is a great opportunity to make the holidays even more special and meaningful. However, it can also be hard to establish new traditions. As you spend time with family and friends, consider making notes of all of your favorite parts about the holidays, as well as a few things you could do without.
After you know what is meaningful to you, set aside a special time as a couple to share your hearts about these special days. Listen to what is important and why. Often a tradition that seems silly or unnecessary to us is on the list of musts for our sweetheart, and understanding the reason behind the activity softens our heart to learn more about the one we’ve chosen to love and serve for the rest of our lives. It often gives glimpses into his/her past, what has helped shape him/her as a person, and leads to a greater appreciation of who he/she is. The reverse is true as well. Perhaps there are things near and dear to your heart that, when shared why, will endear you even more to your beloved.
Since two families are becoming one, you may find that it is impossible to keep all the activities that each of you participated in as a single person. It’s necessary to choose which special traditions to keep and which to not. One especially difficult choice newly married couples face is where to spend holidays. To avoid the stress and strain (and perhaps an argument or two) consider taking time this year to really consider what is most important to each of you. Then, be honest with each other-and with the larger family tree. Even when needing to pare down well-loved traditions, if you are able to communicate that you respect each other and support family relationships, the process will be a little easier. Celebrating with family and friends makes up a large portion of what is meaningful during the holiday season. Despite being different from how you may have always honored holidays, making an effort to show affection and to be thoughtful will go a long way towards joyful celebrations.
Traditions can change even after years of marriage. In the Damron family, we always waited until the day after Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas tree and play Christmas carols. This is what was always done in Cheryl’s home growing up. Up until this year, we’ve carried on this tradition since Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of Cheryl’s and it’s important to her to gather with family and friends and take time to be thankful. We used to celebrate with Cheryl’s parents, but since their recent passing it’s necessary to create new traditions. While we will still gather with family and friends to express love and thanksgiving, we chose to start listening to Christmas carols in early November. Listening to these joyous songs and beginning to celebrate Advent earlier has helped us get through some difficult days. It allows us to move forward and embrace life as it is with new traditions.
Learning to be open to change in how to celebrate holidays and choosing what is most important to you as a couple can allow you to form new memories and traditions that are deeply meaningful. Letting go of some activities allows you to make room for new, shared traditions. With love and respect you can navigate even tricky holiday seasons so that the purpose of the day shines brightly.
Here’s wishing you a holiday season filled with heartwarming moments, great fellowship, and lots of love. What holiday traditions are important to you? We’d enjoy hearing about your favorite traditions.
Cheryl and Kate