The Newlywed’s First Holidays: A Guide to New Traditions
The holidays can be a time of joy and love but it can also be one of the more challenging times any new couple will face.The Newlywed’s first holidays can be exciting and stressful. You may or may not have already learned how to communicate through one another’s differences but now you’re throwing family, with all of their opinions, in the mix.
Sure, it may not feel much different if you’ve been together for many years and have spent a number of holidays with each of your families. Why would this year be any different? You’re newlywed’s! The first holidays together as Mr. and Mrs. are a milestone. It’s the first holidays that you’ll start making decisions as your own family of two. For some, what you decide to do this season could set the tone for how you’ll enjoy the holidays for many more to come. Start talking now about what is important to each of you. Make sure to go into this conversation with an open mind, prepared to listen to each others needs.
Here are some tips on how to incorporate some of your old traditions as you start creating your own as newlyweds.
Talk About Your “Must Haves”
You each likely have some strong opinions about what makes the holidays special for you. Perhaps your spouse enjoys doing absolutely nothing on Christmas Day, while you can’t imagine not baking cookies, playing a game of back yard football, or making a five course meal. Maybe you have to have ham, while he can’t live without turkey. These may seem like small things but it’s important to talk about what your ideal holiday looks like to see if you both are on a similar page (or opposite ones). This is especially important if you typically spent the holidays with your respective parents pre-marriage. Family is a huge part of this decision process because it’s likely neither one of you want to feel like you’re leaving your family out of your new lives together. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more time talking and navigating through this process.
While I’m sure you will both do your best to find a fair compromise, it’s quite possible that one or more family members will be disappointed that you can’t spend all of your holiday time with them. Learning to share takes time! You might not be able to please everyone. Make a point to spend some quality time with other family members before the holidays or bake a yummy treat for them to enjoy in your absence to help show them you care.
Borrow From Your Families
Pick the best and most beloved holiday traditions to incorporate into your new life together. Maybe his mom has a special recipe he loves. Maybe your family always watches Elf on Christmas Eve. Give these age old rituals new life in your marriage.
Also, you’ll probably want to ditch the rituals that never worked for you. Does the idea of having to put up — and decorate — a Christmas tree give you anxiety? Nix it and get a pre-lit or pre-decorated tree. Prefer to give one big present rather than do eight nights of small Hanukkah gifts? Go for it. Now is your chance to switch things up, if you so choose.
Try Something New
You may not have it all figured out by the time December rolls around — and that’s okay. Use this holiday season as an opportunity to test-drive certain activities that could become traditions. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go ice-skating the week of Christmas or go on a mini vacation for New Year’s – go for it! You’ll find what feels festive to you by trying it first and you’ll likely find trying new things with your partner helps you feel even more connected to them.
Consider the things that you enjoyed doing together when you were dating. In our home, we created a tradition of baking cookies and other festive treats for our friends back when we were dating. We’ve continued that and now our closest friends expect to get a box of cookies every year!
Allow Yourself to Spend Some Time Alone
If you ever have an excuse to spend the holidays without having to travel to your families’ houses, it’s this year: you’re newlyweds, after all! Take this year to opt out of driving and flying home if you’d like, to enjoy the holidays as a family of just husband and wife. This will give you a chance to actually try out some new traditions and will show you what you really miss about your families’ celebrations. You may think you can’t live without your Aunt Mary’s sugar cookies or the gag gift secret Santa gift exchange, but you could discover that you actually prefer making homemade gingerbread and peacefully opening stockings with your husband instead.
Just because you do something one year doesn’t mean you’ve set a tradition in stone. Maybe it’s not possible for you to spend the holidays just you two this time around. Maybe you even have to split up over the holidays to see your parents and extended family. That’s okay. However and whenever you celebrate will be right for you as long as you’re staying true to what you think is best for you and your marriage. New traditions take time to take shape so be patient and focus on enjoying the moment and not worrying so much about having every last piece of tinsel in place right away.
If you have’t tied the knot yet, you might consider taking my online premarital course. There is a section in the course, as well as a portion of the handouts that focuses on creating new traditions with newlyweds along with setting boundaries with family as a new couple. If you’re already married, not to worry, you could still benefit from taking the course if you didn’t participate in premarital counseling before you married. Expectations are a huge source of conflict and difficulty communicating them is an even bigger source – let me help you navigate those challenges, not only for the holiday season but for the many years to come. Learn more here.