Our first Christmas as a married couple was a bittersweet one. More sweet than bitter, but bittersweet nonetheless. Having our own Christmas was something that had not dawned on me when we were saying “I do”. I was used to Christmas happening rather than having to create a Christmas. Each year growing up, I would run down the stairs with my brother (yes, even in our twenties) to see a beautiful Christmas scene complete with carols, coffee and Stollen decking the halls of our Christmas brains. The year my husband and I got married, all of this went away. I realized I was going to wake up next to Mike and I would have to create the magic this year. For weeks, I mourned the loss of this childhood view of the holiday. I will even shamefully admit that I cried. What did I have to be sad about, you may ask? I had just married the love of my life, we had just found out we were expecting a baby that coming July, and it was Christmas time! Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones or maybe it was me just being a big ol’ baby, but the fact that Christmas was no longer going to be an anticipated mystery really took a hold of me.
One day while wrapping presents with my mom, I broke into tears again and said, “It’s just not going to be the same. I’m going to miss you, mom.” She looked at me with sympathy and told me something that changed my mind about the subject forever. My mom told me about her first Christmas with my dad. How they were so poor, but she wanted to make it special. How she woke up early to brush her teeth so she would have nice breath to wake him up. How she had strawberries ready for them to eat as a special treat. How she had Christmas music playing when they went downstairs. Her knack for creating traditions grew as she got older and my brother and I entered the picture. My mom said to me, “It’s time you start making your own traditions for you, your husband and your baby. It will be fun!”
You know what readers, she was right (as usual…). I thought to myself, “Yeah. I am creative. I can have fun with this,” and I did.
So, as our second Christmas is approaching, I am excited to turn what I did last year into real traditions. You know, because it takes at least two years to call it a tradition, right? So, what makes our Christmas “Our Christmas”? I used the book The Catholic Home by Meredith Gould to incorporate our Catholic faith into the holiday (because after all, Jesus is the reason for the season!).
- On Christmas Eve, we read Luke 1:1-24 before bed so we can hear the story of Christmas.
- On Christmas morning, I wake up early to make breakfast casserole and toast the Stollen. I make coffee, open champagne and wash strawberries. I put on Christmas music and light candles for ambiance.
- After “creating Christmas”, I wake Mike and we go out to the tree together. Then, we sprinkle birdseed outside so we can watch the birds while we open gifts. We also do this to honor St. Francis’ idea of joining all creation in rejoicing on Jesus’ birthday. Then, we sing “Happy Birthday” and open presents. Afterward, we watch A Christmas Story before getting ready for Mass and visiting family.
Check out our ridiculously dinky tree!
There are plenty of other traditions I am looking forward to adding to MY family as the years go on. A whole new world of Christmas fun has been opened up to me with the birth of our daughter. But, I am taking it slowly and adding things one at a time so I can keep it fun rather than stressful.
If you’re looking to add more traditions of your own, Gould recommends gradually adding customs, planning traditions that align with your lifestyle, and choosing activities that speak to your heart rather than ones that create stress.
How have you made Christmas your own? Tell me your family traditions in the comment section below.