Christmas is going to look different this year. It’s my first time EVER not going home. Ever, ever. It’s weird. It’s good. It’s the way Scott and I decided to share our holidays. We switch every Thanksgiving and Christmas. My family one year for Thanksgiving, his for Christmas and then opposite the next year.
I had a good friend once give me some valuable advice. She told me to keep those years consistent, NO MATTER WHAT. It can get confusing and become really hard on the family not knowing where you're going to be from one year to the next. By keeping it consistent, everyone’s on the same page and they know how to plan ahead of time.
And so, this is my first Michigan Christmas. It’s going to be different but I’m really looking forward to it. Scott's family is great and it will be Marriage is constant compromise and love and just figuring out what works for the two of you.
Having a couple holidays with each other's families under our belt, we've found a few small ways that help make the holidays feel more familiar.
1) MAKE A DISH THAT REMINDS YOU OF HOME
Seriously, this is genius…and it helps a lot in some odd way. We were driving to Thanksgiving in South Dakota this year and Scott turns to me and says “So, what do you guys have for Thanksgiving dinner? There will be sweet potato casserole, obviously, and the green beans with crunchy onions on top too right?” Ahhh….nope.
Buttttttt I said, we can make it happen! So I jumped on the phone with his mom and sister and we made it work. It was fun because we got to share two, new Thanksgiving dishes to our otherwise traditional meal and Scott felt more at home. It was a win/win for everyone.
For me at Christmas, it’s all about the desserts. It's what I think of when I think Christmas. You better believe I'm making corn flake wreaths, ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in almond bark, and caramel puff popcorn.
This pains me to write anything about using a phone on a holiday, but it’s one of the best ways to connect with everyone back home and I’ve learned it actually means a lot to everyone (Mom). There’s something about seeing each other that gives the heart some peace during a season of being apart.
Make sure you plan for your FaceTime. It’s not fair to kick the family you’re with to the curb, they deserve your attention more than anyone. You can still be present with them and FaceTime your family from afar for a bit.
For us, we’re doing a virtual Christmas the Saturday before. It’s a time we have set aside for Scott and myself, my parents, and sister. And then a quick, shorter call planned for Christmas day.
This is a way for us to connect with everyone but respect the time we get with the family we’re celebrating with in person.
3) BE FLEXIBLE
I swear I could write be flexible for every piece of advice I ever give. The traditions and games and foods and stories will be different then you’re used to and that’s ok. Ask your spouse or in-laws what you can expect ahead of time. See if there are ways to bring some of your traditions in to some of their’s without overstepping.
I’m fortunate to have the best in-laws who are excited about what I'm excited about and open and willing to try new things. But even with that, it’s going to be different to any Christmas I’ve experienced before. I’m prepared to be flexible and enjoy this new tradition with them.
4) JOIN IN ON THE FUN
Participate. Chat with folks. Rally the troops for a walk. Teach everyone a new card game. Cook. Help clean up. Don’t just sit and let the holiday pass you by, make sure you’re a part of it and it’s one you’ll remember with your new family.
5) TAKE TIME FOR THE TWO OF YOU
I’m writing this for myself more than anyone. We get (ok it’s mostly me) caught in the hustle and bustle and people and food and things to do and trying to squeeze it all in to a very short period of time that I sort of abandon the person who’s the reason I’m there anyway. I seem to pay attention to everyone else knowing that Scott and I are together the rest of the time.
Don’t forget to include little, intentional moments where it’s just the two of you and you’re completely present. Be together, be grateful, be present.
6) YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALL
No one’s expecting you to do it all. They’ll understand if you want to sit and be. If you need a nap, nap. If you want to stay a bit longer, stay a bit longer. If it’s time to go, head out.
Chances are you’ll be the talk of the party for exactly .05 seconds. Do what you need to do and don’t feel like you have to do any more.
Something that helps us is giving ourselves enough time in one place. We’ve found the best memories are the ones we gave ourselves enough time to create. Don’t cram your day with stuff. Leave it open for whatever the heck you actually want to do.
I’m curious how you’ve learned to share the holidays with your spouse. We’re a work in progress but it’s progress nonetheless.
I hope you have the best Christmas.
The packing cubes have been our best selling present recommendation. They're perfect for any kind of traveler! You can check them out here.