My first married Christmas was the first one I had ever spent outside of my parents’ house. It was always my own bed that I woke up in far too early in the morning every December 25th, and I loved it that way. We spent most of my childhood abroad, so while our Christmas traditions didn’t always look exactly the same—at our apartment swimming pool in Singapore or surrounded by lit-up palm trees in Qatar, for example—I always spent them at home with my parents and three younger siblings. Until December 2015. That year, instead of flying south to Texas, my new husband and I bundled up and drove the opposite direction to his childhood home in New York.
Your first Christmas together has the potential to be one of the sweetest parts of your first year of marriage; but, let’s be honest, it can also be one of the hardest. Anything from what you eat for Christmas Eve dinner, to when to exchange gifts, to even which Christmas Mass you attend may be steeped in tradition, and more than likely, neither of you will be able to celebrate the exact same way you always have. If there’s a time to exercise the compromising muscle in your marriage, it’s certainly this one.
Advent and Christmas Traditions for Newlyweds
Letting go of a tradition you hold dear is hard, but here’s the twinkling light bright side: along with carrying on a few of the things from your childhood, the two of you get to create your own traditions together. When you refocus your attention from your past to your present—your marriage, your love story, what the two of you value and appreciate most, and what you hope your legacy will look like—planning meaningful Advent and Christmas traditions together becomes a joyful challenge. Don’t be afraid to get creative! As well as carrying on the most beloved and precious of each of your family’s Christmas traditions, here are some considerations to make as you start new ones, plus ideas for what they may look like.
Choose something that can be done anywhere.
Many newlyweds, particularly those who moved away from home or are from different places, find themselves crisscrossing the country every holiday season, at least for the first few years of marriage. If that’s your situation (it was mine!), try to think of a tradition that can be done anywhere, and possibly with any number of people, rather than something that needs to take place in your own home.
- Buy or make an ornament that is significant to the year.
- Make a list on Christmas Eve of the blessings from that Advent in gratitude to God.
- Pop a bottle of champagne with Christmas dinner.
- Choose a person or organization to serve or donate to in some way.
- Say a prayer for each family from whom you receive Christmas cards or greetings (even Facebook comments!).
Love each other well.
Want to know one of the best ways to keep yourself from moping about your holidays being different this year? Focus on loving your husband well and making sure he has a magical Christmas. Seek inspiration from his love language to start a tradition that he’ll find especially meaningful.
- Write a love letter expressing how grateful you are for your husband and sharing your favorite memories from the year.
- Plan a Christmas-themed date night.
- Surprise your husband with his favorite Christmas cookies—bonus points if the recipe came from his mama.
- Wake up early to brush the snow off of his car before he heads to work and leave a sweet note on the steering wheel.
- Plug in some twinkle lights and snuggle up on the couch for a Christmas movie night.
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Dream of the future.
Even if you don’t have little ones just yet, discussing the ways you may want to teach your future children about Advent and Christmas and celebrate together as a family someday can be a wonderful catalyst for ideas. Who says you need to wait until you have kids (or until they’re old enough to understand) to start some of these sweet Advent and Christmas traditions?
- Bake a birthday cake for Jesus to serve for Christmas dessert.
- Make or buy an Advent calendar to display in your home.
- Set up a Jesse Tree.
- Attend your parish’s nativity play.
- Set out your shoes for St. Nicholas.
- Sing a hymn together while lighting the candles of your Advent wreath.
Focus on Jesus.
Because when it comes down to it, this season isn’t about us. It isn’t about our traditions, as much as we may cherish them. It’s about Him. The very best traditions we can start in our families are the ones that will point us to Christ and remind us of the goodness and mercy of God.
- Read Luke 2 out loud as soon as you wake up on Christmas morning.
- Add extra daily Masses or holy hours to your Advent schedule.
- Pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena together.
- Commit to reading a spiritual book every Advent and discuss it regularly.
- Compile a playlist of seasonal hymns to listen to in your home throughout the season.
- Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary regularly.
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Wishing you a blessed Advent and a joyful first married Christmas! What are some of your favorite holiday traditions you began with your spouse?
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Lisa Kirk is a wife, mama, and writer in Raleigh, North Carolina who is passionate about her faith, her family, and her unending search for the best Sunday brunch in town. She blogs about feminine style and joyful living for city moms at Something Pretty.