“He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss
Merry Christmas, everyone! Whether you have just finished your morning coffee, are resting on the couch after a full morning of Christmas fun, or are about to drift off into a holiday sleep, we feel honored that you took a few moments from your Christmas Day to spend with us. Christmas has always held a special place in our hearts. We bought our first home, in part, because of the beautiful evergreen “Christmas” trees in the front and back yards. We got married in June, yet we incorporated all four seasons into our marriage celebration – highlighting Christmas above all else. “Our song” is Greensleeves (i.e., What Child is This?). It is safe to say we are a Christmas-loving couple!
As an only child who is blessed to live just five hours away from her hometown, Eric and I spend the majority of our Christmases with my parents. We enjoy our time with them, and yet we believe it is important for couples to have personal traditions they keep regardless of where they spend the holidays. There are a few traditions Eric and I observe whether we spend Christmas in North Carolina with my parents, in Idaho with his parents, or all by ourselves at home in Virginia.
Today is the Day to Start a New Tradition!
If you are dating, engaged, or newly married, today is a great time to start a new ritual – something special for just the two of you to share. Three years ago, Eric and I started a midnight Christmas morning ornament exchange tradition. Wherever we are when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day, we sit together and unwrap a new ornament. We use slightly different methods of choosing each other’s ornaments, which makes it all the more fun. ~smile~ In addition to our ornament exchange, Eric and I go to the movies together every Christmas evening. Sometimes family members join us and sometimes it is just the two of us; but, every December 25th, you can expect to see our car in a movie theater parking lot.
Couples who are just starting out have so many possibilities to consider. Once you have been dating or married a while, it is difficult to break out of old habits; but, when your relationship is new, you have a big, beautiful, blank canvas before you and a million potential pictures to paint. You can make your Christmas practices whatever you want them to be! They can be loud and flamboyant or quiet and cozy, but whatever they are, choose them together. Make them yours.
Below is what I consider an amazing Christmas. How does it compare to your Christmas celebration? Many of these elements we already incorporate into our celebration, but I think it may be time to add the others as well! (hint, hint, Eric ~grin~)
- Christmas Pajamas! Though this is not one of our traditions, many couples buy and wear new Christmas pajamas every Christmas Eve so they can exchange gifts in their cozy new PJs. If you are not into pajamas, you can buy new Christmas socks or a Christmas T-shirt. When children come along, you can add them to your Christmas Eve Pajama party. If you want to add an extra element, you can buy each other a fun new pair of pajamas – if you are brave, that is! Though Christmas Eve 2017 is in the rearview, Christmas Eve 2018 will be here astonishingly quickly. Start thinking of your 2018 Christmas Eve pajama theme now! ~smile~
- Christmas Tree Gazing. There is something so soothing about sitting with your special someone and gazing at the lit Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve night, put on some instrumental Christmas music, make some cocoa, and sit quietly together in front of the tree. Being able to sit in comfortable silence with your significant other is a good sign.
- Midnight Ornament Exchange. As I mentioned above, this new routine has been a ton of fun for us. Since we have never spent a Christmas morning alone, it is nice to have a few moments to ourselves when the house is quiet. Eric has been following a theme for the past three Christmases, and I try to find an ornament which coordinates with something we have done or been through together during the year. It is special watching our ornament collection grow.
- Sleep Late! Enjoy your rest. Until you have children, you can take Christmas morning at a leisurely pace; and, if you have children who are like me, you will still be able to sleep late on Christmas Day. ~smile~ (I have been a night owl since the womb!)
- Morning Coffee or Cocoa for Two on the Couch. After you get out of bed and freshen up, make your way to the kitchen for a warm seasonal beverage. If you want to have Christmas breakfast before gifts, that is just fine – whichever strikes your fancy. Personally, we eat breakfast first because we like to make the excitement of the day last a bit longer. In fact, it is usually mid-afternoon before we officially finish our Christmas gift exchange.
- Read a Bible Story. Whether you are five or fifty-five, it is exciting to open presents. Christ-followers can get caught up in the excitement and forget to center their minds and hearts on Christ before diving headfirst under the tree. With coffee in hand, take turns reading your favorite Christmas passages (Luke 2:1-21 is a favorite for many). If you so desire, finish up your reading with a worshipful Christmas carol or two.
- Have a Time of Prayer Together. After you read God’s word, take some time to thank Him. Thank you, Father God, for the gift of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for giving Him to a lost world so, through His sacrifice, we can return to a right relationship with You. Thank you for sending your precious Holy Spirit to teach and guide us as we wait for Christ’s return. Thank you for providing everything we will ever need.
- Exchanging Gifts. Different families have different methods of gift opening. When my extended family gets together, we rip into presents at the same time and the entire ordeal is over in about ten minutes or so. But, on Christmas morning, we each take turns opening presents. It takes a lot longer and that is part of the fun!
- Visit Loved Ones or Bless Someone. Once you finish your gift exchange, take some time to visit a neighbor or relative who could use some special attention from you. Bring goodies and gifts if you would like, though your presence is the greatest present.
- Pick a Movie to See with Friends and Family, or just make it a Date for Two. When Eric and I started dating, I thought he was crazy! What do you mean you go to a movie on Christmas Day?! That is a day for relaxing with family! Soon, I discovered that if he is crazy, half of my hometown is just as crazy. Parking lots at movie theaters are full on Christmas! Imagine that! If you love Christmas, but still have the itch to get out of the house, consider starting a movie tradition with your sweetie. Not ready to commit? No problem. See one today and if you enjoy it, do it again next year. ~smile~ If hitting the movies on Christmas is not quite your cup of tea, hunker down, pop some popcorn, and watch a movie at home.
- Save a Gift for December 26th. In the spirit of making the holiday fun last, save a gift or two for the following day. One year, I woke up and saw Christmas presents under the tree on the day after Christmas! I was confused but thankful. ~smile~ It turns out my mom hid some of my gifts so well she hid them from herself. Having two consecutive Christmases was a memorable surprise!
- Host a White Elephant Gift Party. Got some less than appealing gifts? Need a fun way to pass them along to someone else? Have some friends over for a New Year’s Eve White Elephant (Dirty Santa, etc.) party. There will be laughs, more laughs, and possibly even some fighting – in good fun, of course.
An Extra Christmas Tip!
- Start a Saving Plan for Next Year. Each year, Eric and I agree on a gift budget for the following year. We take out a specific amount of money each month which gives me the freedom to shop all year instead of waiting until December. This system has worked extremely well for us and we highly recommend it to our couples! In addition to saving money for customary giving, consider saving some money for a family in need. When next December rolls around, you can either donate the money anonymously or buy Christmas presents for the family you have chosen to “adopt.” It might be the most fun you ever have giving!
Which Christmas traditions do you want to bring into your new relationship? What customs do you want to begin? For the first five years you are together, we recommend adding at least one new tradition to your celebration each year. They can be small, simple, and cost little time and money. The meaning behind them is what is important.
We hope you and your loved ones are enjoying a tremendous Christmas celebration! Eric and I exchanged our ornaments last night, and we are looking forward to a tasty breakfast and a leisurely gift exchange with my parents. Christmas Day is meant for being just a little bit lazy, right? ~smile~ If you have a tradition which means the world to you, we would love to hear about it!
We also wish you a splendid, simple, memorable New Years’ Day! We will see you next year!
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (I Timothy 1:15-17, ESV, emphasis mine)
Which new tradition will you start this Christmas?