5 Ways to Make Holiday Traditions Yours

holiday traditions for newlywedsAs someone who is super sentimental, holiday traditions are one of my favorite things, but almost to a fault. I want everything to be exactly the same every single year. I want us to drink hot cocoa, go on a sleigh ride, and reminisce over the past and look forward to the future. Needless to say, I have a lot of expectations. And we all know how life is – nothing goes as planned.

I remember the Christmas before Mr. M and I got married, I was sitting at the dining room table with my aunt and feeling slightly emotional. I knew Mr. M and I were getting married the next year and this would be the last Christmas I spent with my family on Christmas morning.

Marriage makes holidays look different. You split time between families, you learn how each family has their own way of doing things. . . it makes the holidays almost bittersweet. Both Mr. M’s and my family is very family oriented, so Christmas is a big to do on both sides.

Compromising on Christmas can be a wedge between couples, or it can be an opportunity to create something of your own.

Although I enjoy spending Christmas with Mr. M’s family, it’s still hard to adjust to something different than you’ve been doing for the past 22 years of your life. I often say I am so thankful I love my family like my own because it makes it so much easier around this time of year. Of course in the ideal world, we would all celebrate everything and be together all the time as one big moving amoeba, but that’s not necessarily realistic.

So we get the opportunity to make these holiday traditions our own.

holiday traditions for newlyweds

Making Holiday Traditions Your Own

Last year, Mr. M and I spent Christmas Eve with his family, Christmas morning by ourselves, Christmas afternoon with his family, and Christmas evening and the next day with mine. It was important that we started our first year of marriage with our own tradition – waking up and doing Christmas by ourselves. This is something we will likely continue to incorporate when we have kids one day.

This year, things look a little different as we are celebrating Christmas in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Rather than trying to squeeze our own Christmas in on the actual day, we are celebrating Christmas all weekend long. We’re going to a Christmas Eve service tonight and pretending tomorrow is Christmas day for just the two of us.

Take a Tradition From Your Families

When you get married, you get to create your own family by taking the best aspects from each of your families. So when Mr. M and I celebrated our first Christmas together last year, we each took a little something from how our families celebrated Christmas. Mr. M’s family spends time before they do presents having time of reflection, worship, and prayer. So last year when Mr. M and I celebrated by ourselves, we had a small time of worship before we did presents. My addition to the Christmas tradition? Stockings. Which leads me to my next point. . .

Have Grace in Creating Traditions

Mr. M never grew up doing stockings, so stuffing stockings was a completely new ordeal for him. The first time we did it a couple years ago, he forgot about the stockings! Have no fear, though, he made up for it last year and is getting better at it every year. (It also helps if I send him pictures of good stocking stuffer ideas. 😉 )

holiday traditions for newlyweds

Make Your Own Tradition

Mr. M and I are never one to turn down a party or an opportunity to have 30 of our closest friends surrounding us. This year we started our own tradition by throwing a Christmas party in early December. It was such a blast to plan and prepare for. I can honestly say I started to feel the Christmas spirit the day after our Christmas party (although maybe that was because it was anniversary weekend, too.) And I mayyy or may not have already set the date for next year’s party. Woops. 🙂

Allow Wiggle Room for Traditions

Last year on Christmas morning I made sweet potato pancakes and bacon and eggs for breakfast. When I was contemplating what to make, Mr. M said, “Well you’ve gotta make sure you pick something good, because that’s what we’re going to eat every Christmas morning for the rest of our lives!” I laughed. While the sweet potato pancakes were great, it’s a lot less messier to make a casserole for breakfast, so this year I’m trying something new – a mini delicious breakfast casserole that I’m obsessed with.

I thought last year before I made the sweet potato pancakes that that was going to be what I do for the next 40 years. But you know what? It takes some wiggle room to find a tradition that sticks, whether it is a food item or an event you do to celebrate the Christmas season.

Be Open to New Traditions 

With nine siblings between us, Mr. M and I have recognized that the older we get and the more our siblings get minds of their own and families of their own, the less likely it is we will all be together exactly on Christmas morning.

While this is an utterly depressing thought, this is life, and this is what families have to do. What works one day in 2017, may look completely different in 2027. Life ebbs and flows, and every year will look different. The important thing to remember is to always turn towards each other.

How do you and your s/o celebrate Christmas? What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Reclaiming Joy During the Holiday Season

Reclaiming Joy During the Holiday Season

Over the weekend I watched he same Best Buy Christmas commercial 87 times. Not on purpose, Hulu just likes to repeat the commercials. By the 900th time seeing the same commercial, my inner scrooge came out. The commercial was so materialistic. Everyone was opening expensive and fancy presents. The narrator stressed the importance of last minute gift buying.

I get it, I’ve still got some last minute stocking stuffers to buy, too. And with gift giving being my love language, I’m all about this holiday season. Mr. M usually has to hold me back because I want to buy Christmas presents for EVERYONE. And our budget only supports our close family – and those are even Secret Santa gift exchanges. (We have nine siblings between the two of us!)

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the hustle and bustle; I love the Christmas music, the holiday parties, and the joy.

But in the stress of gift buying, scheduling life around holiday parties and family functions, it’s easy to lose sight of our joy.

For the first time in my life, I found myself sitting on the couch, staring at our Christmas tree, and only seeing the presents cluttered around. I dreamed of putting away the Christmas tree and putting a book case in its place. This is a very different attitude from the girl who was sad about taking down the tree before she had even put it up. Granted, Mr. M and I have spent (and will spend) all but one night out doing something until New Year’s Eve Weekend.

The busyness of the holiday season can take a toll on our minds and our bodies. So this week, I’m reclaiming joy.

Reclaiming Joy During the Holiday Season

Find Silence 

While I was watching said Best Buy commercial, I got increasingly annoyed by the materialistic chaos. There were flashing lights, there were cats on robots. There was countdown, wrestling music. (I don’t know if it was truly wrestling music, but I imagine it’s what the UFC fighters listen to to pump up.) Instead, I’m going to cherish the few moments of silence we get.

I was thinking about the song, “Silent Night.” All is calm, all is bright. Christmas doesn’t have to be chaotic. It is as chaotic as we allow ourselves to be. Even in the midst of chaos, we can find a moment to center ourselves around peace.

Enjoy Presence

Like I said before, gifts are my love language. I feel the most loved when my husband brings home one of my favorite foods, or when a friend buys me a cup of coffee. So when Christmas rolls around, I’m all about the gift giving and gift receiving. But gifts are not the purpose of the holidays. This is a time to love on people you don’t always see. This weekend Mr. M and I are holing ourselves up in a cabin with 30 people (and this is just his family) and then next week we’re settling into my parents mountain home (it looks like a log cabin on the inside and I just love it) with 20-30 more people (and that’s just my family!)

As an adult, I am of course excited about the presents, but I’m more excited about the presence of family members I only get to see once or twice a year.

Remembering Reverence

I love evening Christmas Eve services: the air is filled with music, it is  holy, worshipful, and there is a reverence in the air. Because I am such a fanatic about all things commercially Christmas: the movies, Santa, the trees, it’s important to me that I also take a moment each day to remember why we celebrate Christmas. I love following along with She Reads Truth’s Advent Study. It is a time I get to take each day to quiet down, settle my soul, and focus on my Savior who came in the form of a baby to eventually die and be resurrected for our sins.

What are some ways you take care of yourself during the holidays?

Reclaiming JOY During the Holiday Season

Check out my calm, quiet Christmas playlist that has been on repeat this season!

8 Things I’m Looking Forward to this Season

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

The Nyquil fog has been heavy with us this week.

I don’t know if it was the 6 day weekend I had last week or the cold I’ve had since last Tuesday, but I feel like I cannot get myself together this week. The entire week has passed by in a blur, and I’m feeling a little blue as the things I set out to accomplish in November did. not. happen.

But I’m learning to be gracious with myself in realizing I can’t do it all, especially when I’m already stretched thin everywhere (except for my pants. Girlfriend needs some new pants.) I was looking forward to publishing the last installment of the Creating Space series on Wednesday, but since my last interview was with Mr. M himself, and we were both feeling under the weather, I just let it slide. So this week is just going to be a throw away week. We’ll start afresh on Monday.

Being December 1st, I’m v excited about the prospects of Christmas. And yet I was telling Mr. M it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all. Last year I don’t feel like I got to truly celebrate Christmas, as we were in wedding mode until December 10th, and honeymoon mode until December 18th. So I only truly got 6 days of Christmas cheer in there. I’m told this is what adulthood is. The Christmas magic is gone until we’ve got little babes of our own.

And speaking of babies, we’re not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon. Although I’ve made it my seasonal joke of the year that the holidays make me want kids, but I want to give them back on January.

I am looking forward to December, though. And I have a few fun things planned for the blog this month, too.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

Things I’m Looking Forward to in the Blog World

Next week you can look forward to all marriage posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because it is anniversary week!

The following week I am collaborating with Tiffany from Endless Bliss, and I’m looking forward to that because she is doing #Blogmas this year. You go, Glenn Coco.

And really, we can all expect *mostly* Christmas related posts for the rest of the month. I also decided today on a whim that I was going to join Kate from A Thought & a Half’s Instagram challenge, because I love a good Insta challenge.

 

My very favorite blog I love to read this time of year is Brennan’s 25 Days of Ugly Christmas Apparel. I featured him on Hugs & Lattes several years ago, and I am psyched that he’s back for year 7.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

What I’m Looking Forward to in Real Life

I mentioned this in the previous section, but y’all – our first anniversary is upon us! I cannot believe Mr. M and I have been married for a year already. This has been the most joyful year of my life, and I can’t wait for many more. You guys know that we love to get away, but with the holidays and our work schedules, we are going to wait unitl January or February for our little anniversary getaway. Instead Mr. M has planned for us to spend some intentional time next weekend here at home. I’m excited to see what he has planned!

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

And like the extrovert I am, I planned a Christmas party for, of course, our anniversary weekend. Woops. We have approximately 1 billion tacky Christmas mugs leftover from the big day, so we are pulling together a few friends to give them away to while we stuff our faces with delicious holiday food.

Every year when the Advent rolls around, I love to center myself on what Christmas is truly about. Besides the joy of the festivities with family and friends – and the presents of course – Christmas is a time to celebrate and reflect on my faith and the coming of Jesus Christ. I love following along with She Reads Truth’s Advent series. I believe their plan starts on December 3rd on the app or online.

This year we are spending Christmas in both North Carolina and Tennessee, so I’m excited to hole ourselves in a cabin for a night, and then see my family for a night. We’re still figuring out what it looks like to spend Christmas with both of our very large extended families; and I know it will be a matter of compromise and grace as we navigate making our own traditions and still incorporating family into the holidays. Maybe in a couple years when we have it all together (haha) I’ll be more inclined to write about it.

Last month I wrote down something I was thankful for each day, as a way to intentionally celebrate Thanksgiving. I decided to continue the tradition with December. It’s a great reflective practice to look back at the end of each day and find a moment of joy and gratitude.

What are you looking forward to this month? 

 

How to DIY Your Christmas

10 Steps to DIY Your Christmas

Guys, I have to make a confession. I’m not the most crafty person in the world, butI’m trying. Last year I arm knitted scarves for lots of ladies in my life. This year, I decided to entirely DIY my Christmas – from my Christmas tree to my presents, and here’s the great thing: it was zero stress, not that time consuming and so much fun! You can DIY your Christmas too, and here’s how:

1 – Shop around for a tree. Buy the tree yourself.

2 – Buy the ornaments and ribbons and garland and tinsel. Put it on by yourself.

3 – Ask your mom if she has leftover Christmas decorations. Pick it up when you’re home for Thanksgiving.

4 – Hang said garland all alone in a frenzy before your Christmas party.

5 – Sit at home. Pour a glass of milk. Eat some cookies. Scroll through Amazon. Hit “Buy with 1 Click.” Congratulations! You bought presents all by yourself.

6 – Go to Target. Get a latte. Shop around Target. Buy more presents. By. Your. Dang. Self.

7 – Ask your boyfriend to go to Salvation Army to buy an ugly sweater. Okay, you didn’t do that one by yourself. Shout out to the boo thang.

8 – Enlist the help of your boo thang with writing Christmas cards. He gets a hand cramp. Write them yourself.

9 – Look at Pinterest for inspiration for homemade stockings. Go Target (again) instead.

10 – Look at the job well done, pat yourself on the back.

See? You don’t have to be crafty to DIY your entire Christmas, all you have to do is DO. IT. Yourself!

*Giveaway* The Ones That Didn’t Make It

Caption Contest!

A few weeks ago Pai and I took Christmas photos to send out as Christmas cards. Last year I sent an awkward family Christmas photo to 4 people. It was awkward because there wasn’t really a family in the picture – just my cat Smokey and myself. This year I didn’t have a cat with me, but I do have a boyfriend so I thought I would put him to good use. I mean that in the least objectifying way possible. Anyway, we had a date night in where we played monopoly and ate shoyu chicken and then my sister came over with her camera and tripod and took awkward Christmas photos of us. But here’s the thing: we tried to look awkward and all, but we just couldn’t. We’re just too cute. (Kidding. Kinda.)

We did pick out the perfect awkward one to send out to friends and family, but there were a few that didn’t quite make the cut. I thought it would be fun to have a caption photo contest with these pictures! The best caption wins a Starbucks drink from yours truly. Leave the captions in the comment. The caption contest will last from Monday December 14th to Friday December 18th! Write the number of the photo you’re captioning and then add the caption! Do 1, 2, or all 3!

May the odds be ever in your favor. 🙂

The Ones that Didn't Make it

The Ones that Didn't Make It

The Ones that Didn't Make It