One of the things that has been hard about getting married is giving up some of the traditions I had growing up in order to either begin our own traditions or let A.P. have some of his own family traditions. It's sort of strange to think that so much of your identity can be found in the things you ritualistically do with your family and loved ones. And when you get married, you form a new family and with that family comes change.
Growing up, my family had a hearty meal and opened our presents on Christmas Eve. Even Santa came Christmas Eve! He knocked on our front door, and when I went to open the door, my gifts were waiting outside. Then, my mother who sang in the choir at our church, left to go sing in Midnight Mass. My mother sang in a fairly well-known church, whose Midnight Mass was always live telecast. When I was too little to make it through the mass, I watched on TV. We would look for my mother. Then, my siblings and I would wake up Christmas morning, open our stockings, and then get dressed up in our Sunday best for Christmas dinner, which was attended by my great-aunt and uncle each year.
A.P. had a very different experience. He didn't really do much on Christmas Eve, except put cookies and milk out for Santa. Then, Christmas morning, he and his brothers would tear into their million presents (their mom was big on Christmas and giving gifts). They would have a meal, but that's not what really sticks out to him. It was the gifts and the decorations adorning both the outside of the house and the inside that he remembers. His mother's annual Christmas parties and the giant Christmas tree in their front lawn are what stick out now.
Our own traditions are a combination of both, really. We open Christmas presents on Christmas Day, but usually we'll get together with family on Christmas Eve and open a present each. But I'm not going to lie: I still miss what I grew up doing. And I think that should we have kids, I would miss those things even more. Still, I love the things we've created together, too. I love that we decorate our tree together and that each year one of us stabs this crazy, clothespin ornament that A.P made onto the tree. It's a bizarre tradition, but it's ours. And I take pictures each year of one of us doing it right before we put on our tree topper.
I like to think about how these things will become part of the fabric of our marriage and how they all become things we look forward to doing each and every year. Then I think about how one day if we have kids, these things will become part of their holiday memories. It's weird how circular life really is. I may not love giving up some of my traditions, but I love A.P. and I love the holidays we share together and the memories we have together. I love the traditions we've created that I force him to participate in (he's a boy...let's face it, this is girl stuff). And secretly, I think he kind of does, too. After all, it's that time of year, and as we do every year, we just sent each other our wish lists. I'm looking forward to finishing set up our tree and decorating the house. And I can't wait to drink cocoa and eat Christmas cookies and get our Christmas on! Because even if it's not the Christmas I grew up with, it's a Christmas I've created and one I look forward to each and every year.
How did you react to combining family traditions? What are some of the traditions you've created together?