My now-husband and I have been together for over seven years and we've navigated our way through a number of stressful situations. But holiday planning, namely for Christmas, has never been one of them. Between family distance and work obligations (he's always traveling), we settled the issue by each going our separate ways: He went to his family's celebration and I went to mine.
But now that we're married — we ran to City Hall this past June — we have some more thinking to do about the holiday. Take one close-knit family, add another close-knit family, divide by one newly married couple, and what do you get? The answer, it turns out, is simpler than I imagined.
My Family's Christmas Traditions
In my family, Christmas Eve is the big party, as it is for most Italians. It involves shrimp fondue and caper sauce and a very full house (we're at 40 people if at capacity). It also involves an unnecessarily complicated Yankee Swap and an older relative dressed in a Santa costume doling out trinkets to my cousins' little kids.
That's not to say that Christmas Day isn't festive. This is a day of more entertaining, of Nat King Cole and dressing up our dog like an elf, and cooking dinner with my sister. Importantly, this is a day of huge stockings, and by stockings, I mean feed bags filled with toiletries, snacks, and gift cards.
My Husband's Christmas Traditions
Christmas Eve for my husband's family, which is much smaller than mine, is a mellower affair. It used to involve a big open-house party, with a come-as-you-are attitude and plenty of friends, but numbers have dropped off in recent years. And Christmas Day is a day of nothing for my husband's family (which I'm admittedly a little jealous of).
Our New Christmas Traditions
I have to admit, it was a little bit of a shock to think about reconfiguring the Christmas traditions and habits I've perfected over the past nearly 30 years. Don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws — they're the best people, and I couldn't be luckier to have married into their family — but I couldn't imagine giving up my family's version of the holiday, especially since I, a true Scorpio, tend to be stubborn and resist change.
My husband, on the other hand, knows when it's time to try something new. It's why we got married — he's my balance. So, when I came to him with the issue (at least in my mind) of planning out our holiday season, I shouldn't have been surprised when he said, "Whatever you want to do is fine with me." He'd be happy with a hot toddy and a Pilgrim sandwich (actually, that sounds pretty good).
The solution to my Christmas dilemma — here, there, or maybe somewhere tropical, with Mai Tais! — came from my mother. (Mothers are somehow always right.) As I was stressing to her about what to do about the holiday, she suggested we combine our families and just have one big celebration, like we did six months ago when we got married. We had one hell of a party to celebrate our nuptials, so why stop there?
This Christmas, our two families will come together. There will be stockings and music and shrimp fondue and a come-as-you-are attitude. I'm sure that our traditions will change as the years progress, but for the first one, this is a great start.
Did you get married this year? How are you dealing with the holidays?