J.B. asks from Rapid City, SD on December 03, 2009
My husband and I have an ongoing discussion of what to do at Christmas each year. He wants a real tree, I prefer artificial. He wants Santa and Family gifts on Christmas morning, and I want family gifts on Christmas Eve, then Santa Christmas morning. We've been married for 5 years, and have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and a 6 month old son. Each of these issues comes up each year as we try to settle in to our own family traditions. Of course, each of our desires stems from our own childhood traditions.
Some years, the issue has been settled by where we celebrate Christmas - if it's with my parents, we do our traditions, if it's with his parents, it's his traditions. Well, needless to say I've really had enough of these yearly conversations, and would love to settle in to our own family traditions. I just don't know how to go about it. It seems like when we try to talk about it, one of us gets upset as we each really want our celebrations from our own childhood. How did you solve this in your family? Do you have suggestions for coming to a final decision? This year we are celebrating with his side of the family, at their home, so I'm sure we'll have to do it "his" way. I guess I'm just looking for some advice on how to do this, and suggestions from you all. Ultimately, I'd like our children to know what to expect each year, and to at least have a couple of things that are "our" family traditions that we stick to each year, even if some need to vary from year to year.
So What Happened?™
Wow - thanks for all of the great responses! I knew you wouldn't let me down! What I really hadn't considered was the "big picture', so thanks to all of you that mentioned that. It's true that the realy meaning of Christmas is celebrating Christ's birth, and being together. I'm going to take the high road and keep these things in mind. After considering this, we're going to get the REAL tree, decorate the tree and cookies together, and plan to open a couple special presents on Christmas Eve (jammies, maybe a book), and have Santa come on Christmas morning. We'll leave the rest open and flexible, based on where we are and who we're celbrating with. Thanks so much for sharing!
A.S. answers from Davenport on December 04, 2009
You could always do stockings on Christmas Eve and save the rest for Christmas morning. One of you will have to compromise and you might as well be the bigger person.
K.W. answers from Cedar Rapids on December 04, 2009
My solution: Bundle up, cut down a tree, and open all gifts on Christmas morning.
I solved this issue by adjusting my "zoom" function. I was zooming in on tiny little things like the day on the calendar and the time on the clock. Once I zoomed out and looked at the big picture, these little arguments felt ridiculous!
If my spouse and children are healthy and happy; if they're home with me instead of serving in some foreign country or laying in a hospital; if one or both of us has a job to return to after the holidays; if we have a house in which to put up a tree (real or fake); if we are wealthy enough to not only have food for a Christmas meal, but presents too (regardless of when the paper and bows are taken off of them); if I feel safe in my home; if I am able to hear my children laugh or coo and see their faces light up at the sight of a toy or Christmas cookie, THEN I am happy.
Please remember that you could celebrate Christmas on May 14th at 3:30 in the afternoon and it would STILL be a celebration of Christ's birth (if that's how you view it) or at the very least a celebration of your family's love and good fortune. Do yourself a favor and "zoom out" - pretend you're watching your family through the window. Does it matter if the scene unfolds around a real tree? Does it matter if it happens 12 hours after you think it should? As long as you're together and celebrating, who cares?! :-)
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K.S. answers from Minneapolis on December 03, 2009
My husband am I have always celebrated Christmas Eve at my parents' and Christmas Day at his. This is despite the fact this his mother also hosts a Christmas Eve bash and begs us to come every year. Of course, my family gathers at my grandmother's on Christmas Day and so we get pestered about going to that too. But we decided right away (even before kids) that we each had to pick and choose which traditions/events were most important and stick with that same routine year after year.
As for creating your own traditions...We've done that too. We do breakfast w/Santa at Macy's ever year. We make a late night trip (w/kids in PJs) to Rice Park to see the lights. We decorate the tree with hot cocoa at hand and match How the Grinch Stole Christmas when we're done. We always stick socks and undies in stockings...A silly thing to pull out and compare on Christmas morning. We alternate annual trips to the Swedish Institute and Murphy's Landing. The last thing we do before going to bed on Christmas Eve, is have the littlest one hang the Santa Key on the front door (we don't have a fireplace).
In other words...Since the actual holidays are spent away from our own home...We have made brand new traditions just for our family that fill up the days before Christmas and create a lot of excitement and memories.
...real trees are the best : )
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S.W. answers from Minneapolis on December 04, 2009
Your kids don't and won't care if they have a real or artificial tree, or if they open gifts on Christmas eve or Christmas morning. They're just excited that it's Christmas! What they WILL remember is that mom and dad were always tense and arguing every year at this time...
The details don't matter, really. The togetherness does. My advice is to just let it go. New traditions are just that, new, not what you or he did as a child. Can the two of you come up with something different than either of you did to add to your family's experience?
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C.O. answers from Minneapolis on December 04, 2009
In our house, the traditions are mostly determined by who does most of the work: ME. If my husband feels strongly about doing something different, he's more than welcome to take the reins. If he doesn't want to put forth the effort, he can't complain.
Everyone gets a new ornament to hang on the tree every year. We eat pizza and open one gift each on Christmas Eve, usually pajamas or a blanket or something like that. Santa hides the stockings so everyone can find them and open those presents at their leisure Christmas morning. We have cinnamon rolls and fruit for breakfast and take turns opening one present at a time, rotating from youngest to oldest.
After too many crazy years of driving and flying to spend time with family, we set aside one day for each side this year and are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas at our house. Our family has an open invitation to join us, but no one is taking us up on it- all the more reason for me to NOT want to spend our time and money traveling to them- why are we the ones who always have to go to them? I'm looking forward to our quiet, peaceful holiday with just my husband and kids.
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H. answers from Minneapolis on December 03, 2009
we used to have that same conversation every year too. it was hard cuz it always ended up feeling like we were each saying our own family traditions were more important then the others :) we finally really sat down, before thanksgiving, and talked about which ones were so important, and WHY, and what NEW ones we thought would be fun. We both picked the top ones and whoever had the best reasoning "won" :) Then we stopped spending Christmas with the extended family (if they are nearby we'll do christmas eve dinner or late christmas dinner), and focus on just us- our traditions became "ours" instead of "his" or "mine". We make the family holiday during thanksgiving. it took several years to convince our family that it was ok this way- they are BIG on the family christmas (because that's what we did growing up....) We felt it was too hard to make our own traditions when his and my families' traditions were so opposite (like, they opened christmas eve, we were morning people, they didn't do santa, we did etc)
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M.W. answers from St. Cloud on December 04, 2009
If the two issues that are the most head butting are the tree and the gifts, let him pick which one he wants and you get the other!
If he choses to have a real tree, then you set when the presents get opened. If he wants the presents for Christmas Day, then you get the fake tree.
Sit down and discuss it with him and LET HIM CHOSE FIRST! Then stick with it each year from now on and it can be your family's tradition.
1 mom found this helpful
L.H. answers from Milwaukee on December 04, 2009
When I was little I was always allowed to open up one gift on Christmas eve. Maybe the two of you should make your own tradition instead of going off your old familiy traditions from when you were children. Maybe that would solve any problems.
J.R. answers from Davenport on December 07, 2009
Here is my suggestion, take it or leave it....celebrate the way you are - following the traitions of which ever family you are with - that way the kdis are getting the best of both worlds, even if it alternates each year, they will be special memories no matter what! Also, for you own family, compromise and do some thing form each side, or if no compromise is possible - start some totally new tradiditons not from either of your childhoods, special to this new family alone! Search the internet for "Christmas Family traditions" and see if you don't find some neat ideas you have never even thoguht of before!
Just enjoy the time with your family!