When we married, we two became one. We just forgot to apply that to our Christmas traditions.
It looked like he won it in a crane arcade game. Thin, gold tinsel lined the white plastic star, studded in even intervals by thin-tipped, multi-colored lights. Chintzy, cheap, and completely unfit to sit atop our tree, but there it sat, a symbol of our deep Christmas division. He loved it. I hated it.
A history of misery.
My husband and I have fought almost every Christmas. We fight about having a real or a fake tree. He grew up with real; I grew up with fake. Then we bicker about the color of the lights on the tree and on the outside of the house. He grew up with multi-colored lights on both; I grew up with soft white on the tree and a slough of fun colors outside. We fight about when to buy gifts. I like to buy them early, wrap them, and place them under the tree. He loves the rush of the crowd at the mall on Christmas Eve (so much nope). Now, with kids, we fight about getting gifts and how to fill stockings and whether Santa gifts get wrapped or put on display.
I’m not joking; the buildup to the month of December gives me real anxiety.
I love Christmas. He loves Christmas. We just love our versions of it. I’ve cried real tears trying to find a way forward during the Christmas season. This year, after 9.5 years of marriage, I am determined to do things differently.
Starting anew this Christmas.
This year, I started early. I started prepping for Christmas planning in August. (Yes, I planned for our planning.) To prime the pump a little, I asked my husband if we could discuss Christmas expectations and roles this year, and I told him that I may want to tweak a few things. Ahem. He laughed. Chuckles aside, we’ve picked up the conversation again and are working towards a plan we can both get behind.
This Christmas I will put my money where my mouth is. Either it is about Santa and gifts, or Christmas is about Jesus. Christ-mas. If I keep that in mind, I can easily commit to not getting bent out of shape when I need to compromise on lesser things for the sake of peace in our home.
Last year, we made one of my favorite memories. My husband baked 18 dozen cherry winks which we delivered to our neighbors and friends. We hadn’t met many of our neighbors yet, and we had a blast delivering the cookies together as a family. This year, we are already making plans for a similar door-to-door, and I cannot wait.
Join the club.
If Christmas is stressful for you for any of the above reasons, know that you are not alone. It can be better, but everybody has to give a little. Also, know that you are normal. Special holidays and events can make us a bit more crazy than usual; we cling fiercely to the things we love, and when expectations differ, friction happens. It just is.
The lights, the trees, the gifts, the activities – none of it matters if we spoil it with petty arguments. Take a moment and write down what is most important to you at Christmas. It’s great to be spontaneous, but maybe write down a few commitments to yourself as to how you will stick to those values this holiday season.
I’m sure my Christmas will not be argument-free, but I guarantee it will be better. I’m a work in progress; so is he. Thank goodness that Grace is for everyone.