Brooke and I have been doing Christmas together for seven years - one was while we were engaged and six have been while married. This year will be our 7th Christmas together! It is my favorite time of year and I really love some of the traditions that we have started, so I thought I would share them with you. Please feel free to steal them or add to them or make them your own if you want! I think traditions can be a great way to connect with your spouse over and over again. It gives you something to look forward to and something to look back on.
1. Giving Christmas ornaments!
Every year Brooke and I give each other a Christmas ornament. Currently, we have 12 ornaments (we only started exchanging them after we were married) total. Our ornaments have ranged from a weird handmade circle I made for Brooke, out of twine and wire, to a Dwight Schrute figurine, to a glittery piece of bacon. Every year we try to highlight something that was unique to that year. For example, one year I gave her a Marilyn Monroe ornament because that was her halloween costume at our first ever halloween party. Last year she gave me a glittery piece of bacon, because all of last year I was trying to perfect the art of cooking bacon, which I totally did and have the 5 extra pounds to prove it! The one thing I would recommend is, if you are going to take up this tradition, to write the year on the ornaments right when you give them to each other, because when looking back we had to guess about a few of the first years and ornaments. It doesn't take long to get them confused. I am excited to add June to the tradition and pick out an ornament for her, too!
2. Decorating the tree and house while watching Arthur Christmas!
This tradition started by simply watching any Christmas movie while decorating the tree until the year we watched Arthur Christmas. By the end of that year the tree was half decorated and Brooke and I were crying on the couch. For real. Tears of joy mostly, because the movie is so cute, awesome and amazing. It's an animated film that really doesn't get much credit when it comes to Christmas movies, but man, we love it! Every year we put it on in the background as we start to decorate the tree and by the end of the movie, Brooke is still decorating and I am fully sucked in to the movie. I think putting the movie on helps us feel like decorating the tree and our house isn't a chore, but instead, it's something we can look forward to every year! There are too many people out there who have this really terrible ability to complain about everything, including Christmas decorating, and this helps us not be those people. I look forward to watching the movie and decorating the house and tree every year!
3. Shopping for stockings in the most terrifying way ever.
When we were approaching our first Christmas together as husband and wife I looked to Brooke and said, “I have an idea for a Christmas tradition... What if we shopped for our Christmas stockings at the same time in the same store?” Brooke gave me kind of a funny look, like “What are you talking about?”, to which I reiterated my idea and asked her to just give it a try. Brooke is always so willing to just go with whatever idea I have dreamed up in my head, so we tried it. And six years later we are still doing this tradition! The idea is simple: we walk into Target, each with a set/equal budget, each take a cart and split off in opposite directions! What follows is the most terrifying, exhilarating shopping experience of all time because you don’t want the other person to see what's in your cart, but you want to see in there cart! To bystanders we probably look a little crazy as we creep up and down the aisles and scream at the site of each other, turn and run. This tradition is probably one of my favorite parts of the entire Christmas season. I love that Brooke and I can still act like kids with each other. Now that we have June, we will be able to switch off every year who gets her in their cart, only adding to the excitement!
I don’t know what you do each year for Christmas, but I would recommend adding some traditions, mostly goofy ones, to it. It’s easy to look at every milestone in life as another year to complain about requirements, but when we choose to live with passion, excitement and energy we can add awe back into our lives. It's easier than you think. We can make things a big deal and a good time just by changing our attitude or perspective. I think marriage is easily one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. I love being married to Brooke and I always want her to know that. I think these simple traditions we started encourage that kind of attitude! We can look back at the ornaments and remember what we’ve been through, laugh about the one time she thought I left Target without her after stocking shopping and had me paged to the front of the store, and we can look forward to the future and what the traditions will end up looking like with little June, and at some point, June's siblings! I hope that while you go through Christmas you can remember the good times, enjoy the right-now moments and look forward to all that God has for you!