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Do you find yourself at odds with your spouse at this time of year because you don’t agree on which Christmas traditions you should include in your holiday plans? Especially early on in your marriage, you may be surprised to find out that your spouse’s expectations for the holiday season are very different from yours. Traditions can be a sticking point, especially if you are just starting a family or have married someone with their own children.
Christmas traditions are probably those which stick in our minds the longest after we leave childhood. And these can be very different from family to family.
Our Family’s Traditions
At my house, when my kids were young, some of our Christmas traditions were definitely, well…. different.
On Christmas Eve, you would always find us at church, and when we arrived home, it was time to check on Santa. We’d get on NORAD’s site, look to see where he was, and when he was getting close, it was time for bed. My adult children still check on Santa on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas, the kids knew that 7:00 was the earliest they were allowed to wake us up. So they’d spend some time stalking the presents downstairs and then precisely at 7 am, they would come into our room singing, “You Gotta Get Up, It’s Christmas Morning” by 5 Iron Frenzy.
Once we were up, Daddy would make pancakes (or panny-cakes as they were known) and a ton of other food for breakfast. Stockings were opened, breakfast consumed, and then presents.
I saw other extended family members bring their own traditions to our family too. Growing up, my sister-in-law’s family always had paper bags for each child with an orange in them instead of stockings. Of course, she was one of seventeen children, so I’m sure this was almost a necessity for her parents. However, that tradition was passed on to her three children.
Why Family Traditions are Important
Traditions are significant parts of our lives. The need that people have to belong and to feel family identity is tied very closely to traditions. Because those traditions that we grew up with are such an essential part of who we are, the idea of not doing them can create some emotional issues. This is not only true at Christmas time, but all year long too.
To begin (or improve) your Christmas traditions, it’s important to make time to talk with your spouse and decide what kinds of traditions you want for your new family. Or you may need to update or reconsider traditions you’ve kept in previous years.
During your meeting, take the time to really listen to your spouse and ask yourself what you can do to make your spouse happy? Show preference to your spouse by putting their needs ahead of your own. That attitude of goodwill goes a long way in keeping a marriage healthy.
Remember, not everyone can have everything their own way, so here are some suggestions that will help you turn MY traditions and YOUR traditions into OUR Christmas traditions.
During your discussion, ask each other which traditions they grew up with that were the most important or memorable. Try to keep at least one of those special moments from each of your individual families as part of your new traditions.
Eliminate traditions that no longer seem to fit your family. Since families change as children grow, we need to be willing to let go of some less essential traditions.
Once you eliminate traditions from the list, add new ones. Do things together that will keep you close, honor Christ’s birth, and serve other people.
Christmas is a special time for family. Making and keeping traditions will keep your family and your marriage strong because it gives you a feeling of acceptance and kinship. However be careful that your traditions do not obscure the most important part of Christmas, the birth of Christ. Make him the primary component of your celebrations.
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Setting up a nativity set in your home is a great way to remind yourself exactly why we celebrate this holiday! This set is adorable. I love its simplicity.
Still stressing? Here’s a book that will help you prepare one day at a time. If you get the Kindle version, you can download and start right away.