Your first holiday together as a married couple can be such a special time. It can also be difficult to navigate the merging of two different families and a lot of busy events. Before things get too crazy, this is a great time to sit down and talk about the things that matter to each of you, and the things that don’t bring you joy.
Often new couples simply decide that their first few years of marriage will entail doing all the things each of their families have always done for the holidays. While it’s great to stay close with each family, trying to hit 4 different houses for 3 different holiday meals all on the same day is going to exhaust ANY couple. If one or both of your parents have divorced, you may have even more family dinners all competing for your time.
I did a really informal poll on Instagram and found that most of our followers have 3 Christmas dinners, some as many as 5. For some, that will be the highlight of the holiday season. For others, it will become a thing they dread.
Talk About Traditions
Each of you comes into marriage with a history of holiday traditions; or a lack of traditions. Spend some time sharing stories about your past holidays with your family of origin. Explore the things that were very meaningful to you, and the parts of the holidays you did not enjoy. Use those preferences to decide which traditions you will continue as a family, and which ones you no longer wish to participate in.
You may discover that one or both of you don’t have any traditions that are meaningful. You might decide that this is a good time to find your own tradition. One that is your very own.
No Right Way to Celebrate
There is no one right way to celebrate; only the way that is right for you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because every something is popular on Pinterest that it’s something you’re required to do. For many years I carefully crafted a themed Christmas tree, a different theme every year. It was definitely something I loved when I was a stay at home mom, but after a few years, it started to feel like a burden. We still have a themed tree of sorts; it’s a travel tree. Each year when we take our family Christmas trip, we get a new ornament for the tree.
We don’t have a huge pile of gifts under the tree, and I don’t send out the picture-perfect Christmas card. It’s okay if you do, but when we sat down to look at what a nice Christmas looks like for our family, those things weren’t in the picture. I still greatly enjoy seeing the fun and beautiful cards that others share with us, and laughed hysterically watching my nephew unwrap each and every one of his gifts and triumphantly exclaim “I GOT DIS THING!!”.
Find Your Holiday to Host
Sometimes the answer to seeing all the people you love in one day isn’t to go to them; it’s to bring them to you. Choosing a celebration to host at your house can also put you and your partner on a team to plan your own event, bringing you closer together.
For us, we host an event over the summer. While our house is a bit small, we have a large porch, nice yard, and live close to a city park that sets off fireworks at summer events. Knowing that we’ll see everyone who wants to spend time with us frees us up to attend the dinners and parties throughout the year as we can (and skip some that aren’t great for us).
Be Open to Change
Just like my themed tree, some things will only work for your family for a little while. HUGE spoiler alert – once you have kids, things will change. An 8-hour car ride to spend the holiday ‘back home’ may no longer feel worth it when you’re doing it with a 2-year-old. Conversely, you may decide that a big extended family holiday now feels more important than a romantic ski trip once you have little people to share your lives with.
Even if you choose not to have children, as your jobs and personal preferences change, so will your feelings about how you celebrate the holidays. Just because you adopt a tradition now does not mean you have to continue it forever.
For the last 5 years, our Christmas tradition has been that we travel.Instead of giving our kids a mountain of gifts, sending out cards, or
throwing a big party, we save all of our money and give the kids a trip for Christmas. They find out where we’re going on Christmas morning, and sometime in the weeks after the holiday, we go on our trip together. Our son is now an adult, and I know that at some point, this trip with the family may not be something that works for him. As each of my kids moves out, they’ll have to deal with jobs that may restrict their travel, and eventually their own families. But for now, this trip is definitely something that has brought our family a lot of joy over the years, and hopefully will for many more.
I hope all of you who are celebrating together for the first time will have a lovely holiday. Don’t forget that all past and current wedding clients are eligible to enter into our contest for a FREE upgrade to a feature film (including new couples who book before Dec. 28).
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