Friday, December 21, 2007

Tradition. Tradition. Tradition.

I've always considered Christmas to be somewhat of a romantic holiday...more so before I had kids. There's something about a flickering fireplace (though we've never had one in our married lives) and strolling hand in hand to look at lights or window shop. Maybe it's just the cold weather that requires a little snuggling, I'm not quite sure.

I was so looking forward to our first Christmas that Spencer and I shared just 7 months after our wedding. We decided to spend it alone rather than with our families...adding to the romance of the holiday. We talked about our traditions and the big ones with both of our families took place on Christmas Eve. So we decided to scrap both of our traditions and start fresh...since neither of us liked the other's well enough to give up our own, we might as well both give them up. So we started a formal dinner on Christmas Eve. As far as we knew, that was the only Christmas compromise necessary.

(The picture is Spencer and I on our first Christmas...Can you believe how skinny we were? It's disgusting.)

We enjoyed our Christmas dinner, stayed up late putting a desk together which we bought with Christmas cash from my Grandma, and went to bed. We could hardly sleep that night. Although our newlywed/student budget only allowed us $5 dollars per person for gifts, we couldn't even wait to see what we got each other. I pictured this perfect little I said, I imagined it to be a little bit romantic. Like straight out of a Hallmark commercial.

Our first Christmas Eve...notice we're still happy.

Sometime around 4:00am, Spencer had had enough. We got up to open presents, and proceeded to have the first fight of our marriage. In fact, it maybe the only fight of our marriage...Spencer really isn't a fighter. We sat down under the tree and Spencer started passing out all the presents. That's not how you're supposed to do it. You pass out one present at a time, that person opens it, then pass out the next and so on. Spencer passed out all the presents ahead of time. I had never even considered that there would be more than one way to pass out presents. Or that how we passed out presents was so important to me. After about an hour of arguing over how to pass out presents, Spencer finally conceded. It was far from the romantic Christmas I had been anticipating.

It turns out there are several Christmas morning traditions that I never really considered traditions. I assumed everyone did these things the same way my family did. It took us the entire year following that Christmas to come to an agreement on these things. I think it was the following Christmas Eve (we weren't going to ruin Christmas morning again) when we finally decided that since there was no way to combine them, we split the list in half. He chose half and I chose half. Several years have passed now and they've become our traditions. I've even found joy in doing some of the things Spencer's way.

We've started a new family tradition, too. It is something my college room mate did with her family and I've always liked the idea. She always referred to it as her Eve of Christmas Eve Party. Spencer and I combined our childhood Christmas Eve traditions and celebrate them on the 23rd. We buy a new game for the family to open that night (this year...Hungry, Hungry Hippos) and stay up all night playing games, eating snacks and watching movies...followed by a slumber party under the Christmas tree. Added bonus: the crazies are tired from a late night, helping them sleep better on Christmas Eve.


Lisha said...

Great pics and fun traditions! Isn't it amazing how little ways of doing things can be so different in each family? Growing up, Santa always brought our presents and laid them out in our own pile. In Bryce's family Santa always brought their presents wrapped. Spending Christmas with Bryce's parents this year, and being told that it's mandatory that Kayla's presents be wrapped, I felt like giving Bryce a good Christmas punch in the nose. I guess since she won't remember it any way it's not that big a deal so I better go and start wrapping.

DKALC2007 said...

I love the pics- it so reminds me of our 1st one together...I will have to dig those up and comment about that! I love the fight story- it is wonderful!!

jeanine said...

Fun! We're still working out the tradition thing. Luckily Rich doesn't have a lot of traditions because the Fisher's are full of them.

Lauri said...

This story always makes me laugh because I can just picture your Christmas morning. I'm glad you've found things that work for you.

I love the Christmas Eve Eve idea. That is the same thing we were trying to accomplish when dad took you kids skiing on Christmas Eve. My dad used to turn down the heater so the house was colder. He swore it made us sleep more soundly.

Traci Elizabeth said...

I had a strong desire to start some good old family traditions this year...but its going to be kind of hard since cameron has to work Christmas eve and christmas day (thats a tradition I dont want to get used to) maybe next year! Heres a question your home does Santa wrap his presents??? never has he in my tradition but I know a lot who have a present wrapping santa!

Jessica said...

I love it. I also love that you refer to your kids as the "crazies". Traditions are funny it has been interesting to see the differences and similarities between Brian and my family. We will see what happens this year now that it is just us. Traci Santa only wrapped a few presents in our house. (It was sometimes in the same paper that my parents had wrapped their's in, whoops)

Cynthia said...

We always make a big event out of decorating the tree. But actually getting the tree picked out and getting it home has never been a big deal. Whoever is home that afternoon just goes to the lot with Dave or I and grabs a tree. Dave finally confessed that he HATES the way we do that. Picking a tree out should be a big family event and always was when he was growing up. Go figure, . . . after 22 years of marriage, we're still having Christmas tradition issues.
We have had a tradition naturally evolve over the years. Santa used to do a big display set-up to get the "wow" effect as the kids came in on Christmas morning. The minute they all passed that "I believe in Santa Claus" age, all the presents got wrapped under the tree. I think we just got too old and tired to stay up all night.

Autumn said...

I SOOOOOOO love these pictures. I love any older pictures. I might have to go there myself. I LOVE this story. I've never forgotten it from that talk you gave on traditions. Its SOOO great. HEE!!! I love picturing Spencer getting up at 4:00. Jake and I also have our holiday differences. Can you stand the anticipation?

Pedersens said...

Your traditions sound fun! I hope you and Spencer have them all worked out now. I am glad Chris' family doesnt have any traditions because us Stowells are full of traditions and I would not like to change any of them! :)