One of our favorite questions to ask in Marriage 101, our premarital life group, is "Where will you spend Christmas this year?" Inevitably, most of the couples hadn't really talked about it, but instead made the assumptions that they would continue the family traditions they grew up with. The mysterious union of two lives brings all the expectations from growing up differently. How on earth do we honor our family traditions and not go crazy trying to meet their expectations over the holidays?
Scott and I grew up fairly differently, bringing our traditions and expectations with us into marriage.
In my family, anticipation built through most of December in anticipation of Christmas Eve, the day we'd go in search of the perfect Christmas tree, bring it home, spend the evening decorating it and the house, laughing and enjoying each other. Dinner was usually pizza from our favorite pizza joint, Pizza Palace, where I worked most of my high school years. Decorating the most delicious Christmas sugar cookies was also part of the fun. After the cookies were decorated, the tree was decked and pizza gone, we'd go to midnight mass together, then come home and fall into bed exhausted but excited for what the morning would bring.
Christmas morning, we'd wake up to the smell of turkey cooking, excitedly wake up our parents, and the wrapping paper started flying as soon as they came downstairs. After the present extravaganza, dad would make the most amazing breakfast of eggs and bacon. Then we were dressed and outside playing for hours on end. We stayed home for Christmas, most of our extended family in upstate New York, far from our home in Connecticut. But that was okay, home was where we were, and I LOVED waking up in my own bed, sneaking into the living room to see Christmas morning in all its glory.
Scott's family decorated the house and tree sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Far from their extended families, they, too, celebrated Christmas at home, waking up in their own beds. They cherished time together Christmas morning with a special bread called stollen. And the opening of presents was orderly and one at a time, savoring the anticipation, and watching the delight in the eyes of the recipient as well as the giver.
Scott and I have blended our families' traditions and started some of our own. Around December first, we set up the creche Scott's dad made, a ceramic lighted tree (similar to the one my mom has- my sister made it for us!), and an advent ark we found to count the days until Christmas. Scott and Steven enjoying hanging lights on the front of the house mid December. We don't wait until Christmas Eve to get our tree, but we do wait until the Saturday before Christmas to go in search of the perfect Christmas tree and invite dear friends to decorate it with us, eating, laughing and enjoying Christmas cheer. We'll enjoy our church's Christmas Eve Candlelight Celebration, then head home to sit on the sofa and gaze at the beautiful tree, sometimes laying under it to look up through the tree, lights and tinsel shimmering.
Christmas morning is a tranquil morning. Scott and I get up and enjoy quiet time together over coffee while enjoying the tree and music before our teenager wakes up. When he does, we open presents, eat and laugh. We read and we nap. It's a blessed time together.
A New Tradition
A special tradition we've embraced is that each night we read a verse from Matthew 1, starting with Matthew 1:1 on December 1, Matthew 1:1-2 on December 2 and so on until December 25. It's a long list of people, reads like a phone book, and we tend to skip over it, don't we? DON'T! Did you know that Matthew 1 is the story of Jesus' birth and His genealogy? It's an amazing journey through why we need a Savior. Jesus' family tree is filled with men and women who stumbled with adultery, murder, lying, prostitution, incest, who put Him on the cross. Jesus' genealogy is important to hear loudly that it doesn't matter who we are, how jacked up we are or where we're from, there's a place for us in Jesus' family. I love the way Mars Hill shares about it here. Spending December 1-25 reading Matthew 1:1-25 is a precious time nightly for our family. Check it out, you can jump in any time!
Talk about it with your spouse and pray together about which traditions to bring into your family. Which ones are meaningful? Which ones will foster oneness together as you combine your families? Pray about new traditions to start together.
What does Christmas look like in YOUR house?
Dove recording artist Sarah Groves, Beverly Weeks and I will share from own personal struggles and how you can be set free from your bondage in the name of JESUS! That's not all! We will have over 50 vendors on site with shopping, a concert and a TONS of PRIZES!!!! Tickets are on sale at www.bridgechurch.cc NOW! Bring your church groups! Bus and van parking is available!
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