“No one thinks Thanksgiving is the best holiday.” My sister was setting the table a couple of weekends ago in preparation for our family’s turkey dinner. Amy loves Christmas, and she is the first to admit that Christmas is the best because it has presents. She was always the kid who hoarded her gifts until everyone else had opened theirs so that she could be the last to open. She still does this, even with three children of her own. But, to her credit, she also prides herself in giving generous and wonderful gifts.
“Um. I do,” I answered. “At least, it is just as good as Christmas.”
“Really? But Christmas has stockings,” she emphasized.
It is interesting how two people can grow up in the same house with the same traditions and yet we value holidays a bit differently. And thus, it should not have been a surprise that it wasn’t easy to find the perfect balance of traditions when my husband and I started our family, coming from two different traditional perspectives.
I used to idealize married life. While dating, Dan and I spent Christmas at our respective families’ houses, halfway across the country from each other. I recall wistfully dreaming about what our married Christmas would look like. It would be so perfect. We could shape it to be anything we wanted it to be plus we would be together. It would be the picture of bliss.
Of course, when we really did begin to build a life together, reality was a little less-than-perfect, as it always is. We had to balance the expectations of his family, my family, and each other. The simple question of when we would begin decorating for Christmas became contentious. Don’t even get me started about the arguments about where we would spend Christmas.
We both love Christmas so much. The things we love and treasure about it are different though. The reasons I love Christmas are much the same as the reasons I love Thanksgiving. There is a warmth in the togetherness inside that contrasts so beautifully against the cooler temperatures outside. There is a beauty in harvest colours and Christmas lights against the darkness. The smells make me want to breathe deeply and the accompanying food makes me want to indulge. And there is nothing like our sense of smell for making memories of childhood traditions come alive again in a way that makes us feel transported back in time.
My husband loves the magic of Christmas. He wants it to start RIGHT NOW please, or maybe even yesterday. He is all about the fun Christmas music, Santa Claus, reindeer, and colourful lights. He would watch Christmas movies on repeat starting November first if he could. He tells me it is about the children, but really I think he feels like a child at heart during the season.
I was shocked that the most magical time of the year didn’t get more magical when I brought someone else into it. At least, it didn’t at first.
He wants Christmas Classics. I want Christmas Carols.
He wants to turn the music up. I want instrumentals.
He wants colourful lights. I want white and gold.
He wants to decorate November 1st. I want to wait until December.
He wants to emphasize Santa. I want to minimize Santa.
He wants to be home for Christmas. I want to be with my family.
This will be our eighth Christmas together. I’ve come to realize that if Christmas is about family for me, the reality is that he is my family. If Christmas is about getting cozy as the temperature plummets outside, there is no one else I’d rather get cozy with than him.
When two people form a family and traditions merge, there’s space to make something new and beautiful. There is room to pick the best and leave the worst while creating something completely new so that years from now, my boys will be discussing which holiday is the best over a shared family meal while my grandchildren run around underfoot. And that’s the best part of our created traditions: not the individual pieces, but the fact that these things will stay with my children in their hearts and their memories and their lives for years to come.
This post is sponsored by Pine-Sol. With a strong heritage and long legacy, Pine-Sol is a long-standing tradition in many Canadian homes. Apart from the classic pine scent, Pine-Sol is also available in a variety of long-lasting scents – mandarin sunrise, lavender, lemon and sparkling wave. You can use different scents throughout your home to change the mood.