There is just something about Christmas. Even in the depths of grief, overwhelming stress, or when we are exhausted and desperate for rest, Christmas is still beautiful. Between the nostalgia, lights, and bustle, Christmastime still warms the heart at all stages of life. Eric and I even bonded, in part, over our love of Christmas. The beautiful evergreen trees in our yard is one of the reasons we chose our current home. We had a Christmas tree set up in the foyer beside the sanctuary during our June four-seasons-themed wedding. From our earliest days together, we knew Christmas was going to be an important part of our marriage. We even have a Christmas carol as our doorbell ringer.
Over the years, we have celebrated Christmas in some different ways. Eric used to tell me what he wanted for Christmas each year by giving me a riddle. Some years I figured it out, and some years I did not; but, it was always fun (and he ended up with some interesting gifts). We also started a tradition eight years ago of exchanging an ornament (or two) at midnight when the clock struck Christmas. Currently, I have eight beautiful “Twelve Days of Christmas” Precious Moments ornaments lining my living room mantle (and hopefully more to come!).
How holidays are celebrated changes throughout the years because of how life ebbs and flows. Now, while your relationship is new, talk about Christmas and how you want the holiday celebrated in your future home. Which childhood traditions do you want to bring into your marriage? How can you celebrate the season in a way which is unique to you two? How do you want to celebrate when children join the pack? How can you compromise when your plans and desires may conflict?
Like anything else in life, Christmas can come and pass or we celebrate it with intention. All too often we get caught up in the preparations and forget to breathe, enjoy, and bring cheer to others. Consider some of the following pre-Christmas celebration ideas:
- Call a friend you have not talked to in a while.
- Write a Christmas card to your significant other giving specific reasons why you love and respect him or her.
- Take treats to an elderly neighbor or shut-in church member and visit with them. If possible, bring your partner with you.
- Put together small goody bags for the kiddos in your life and pass them out.
- Buy a handful of local coffee or grocery store gift cards and pass them out randomly to people and wish them a Merry Christmas.
- Team up with your partner and go on covert elf missions, leaving surprises on people’s doorsteps (good surprises!!! ?).
- Decorate something together (e.g., a gingerbread house, a Christmas tree, a home, etc.). It can be small or large, but either way, it is a chance to work together to make something beautiful.
- Create order in your life somewhere. Christmas can be crazy and leave us feeling cluttered. Pick something – a room in your house, your junk mailbox, your budget spreadsheet, etc. – and organize it to perfection. When the holidays are over, you can use your ordered space to inspire you for further organization.
- Collect money or needed items and drop them off at your local homeless shelter.
- Go downtown together and share the gospel. Set up a table and offer hot chocolate or some festive treat and talk with others.
- Have a conversation with every person at your holiday gathering. (So many years I leave our extended family’s Christmas Eve celebration having only talked to a handful of family members.)
- Stop by your local craft store and buy some blank ornaments, then decorate them with your significant other or friends. Create specialized ornaments for loved ones. This is also a fun craft to do with children.
- Go Christmas caroling with friends.
- Have a Christmas movie marathon. Each pick one or more Christmas movies which are meaningful to you and watch them together. (It is not Christmas for me without Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, and a medley of Christmas cartoons from my childhood.)
- Sit together in the warmth of only the Christmas tree light and talk about the year: what you learned, what you cherish from it, how God has worked in your life this year, and talk about what you are looking forward to in the year to come.
As you prepare for life with your special someone, also prepare for Christmases with him or her. Talk about what matters to you and discuss how you want your home to look and feel during the holidays. Do you want a lot of friends over? Do you want to host parties? Do you want a warm, cozy, hut-type atmosphere for just the two of you? Do you want a fully decorated home? Do you want to make sure Christmastime is drama-free? Are there common Christmas-related problems you want to keep out of your marriage?
More than anything, enjoy Christmas. Enjoy family… even difficult family. Laugh as much as possible, even when you burn some food you’ve made or your plans do not work out just right. Look for joy. Create joy. Make so many memories.
Merry Christmas from PreEngaged!!!
How will you celebrate Christmas with intention in the upcoming week?
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:8-20, ESV)