Combining Christmas Traditions

Another piece I wrote about how my husband and I are trying to handle combining our individual traditions.

My husband and I have faced a dilemma this year that caught us completely off guard. I am sure this is not a new issue out there and many young families face it every year. How do you combine your individual family Christmas traditions to make your own family traditions?

Our son is two and half, but this is his first Christmas home (which I had to fight for but I will get to that later). The last two Christmases we were traveling; the first to the US to visit my family and last years his whole family did Christmas in Fiji. They we fun and glorious but never made us think about how we wanted our Christmas to go down.

So it all began about two months ago when we started making our plans for Christmas. I made the argument that we should be home this year and let our son wake up in his own bed and have Santa visit him in his own house. But, for my husband, it was always Christmas Eve at Nan’s house for presents and then Santa comes the next morning, with the family having a big Christmas lunch later in the day. Now I might mention that Nan’s house is five hours away and this little lady has to work Christmas Eve. I put my “foot down” on the whole Christmas Eve deal and “we” decided that it did not make sense for us to rush off to Nan’s after I got out of work on Christmas Eve. I was pleased that our son would have Christmas morning in his own bed and we would not be fighting the ungodly Christmas Eve traffic.

Being the slightly comprising women that I am, I agreed that we would make it up to Nan’s for Christmas dinner and not rush our morning. At this point now with Christmas only two days away it has gone from Christmas dinner to an early Christmas dinner at 4pm to “oh surely we can make it there by 3pm to open presents before Christmas dinner”. I could slowly see our relaxed Christmas morning turning into a hurried opening up of presents just to jump straight in the car to make it to Nan’s on time. I put the hard word on my husband to tell his family we will get there when we get there and we are not going to rush to ruin this Christmas morning for our son. Luckily my husband didn’t put up much of a fight and we kept it at a 4pm dinner at Nan’s. All our Christmas issues solved or so I thought.

It continued on about two weeks ago with the pulling out of the Christmas decorations. I started hanging stockings and my husband looked at me with an odd look and said “why do we have stockings?”

“Um hello for Santa to fill” I responded.

Then we got into a debate about where Santa’s gifts would go. In my family it was always Santa filled the stockings and then left a couple of cool presents under the tree with everyone else’s presents. For my husband, Santa left a Santa Sack full of presents under the tree. This explains his massive stocking that was hanging on the mantel. I argued half the fun is ripping off all the wrapping paper from the Santa presents under the tree, plus you get your stocking before breakfast to keep you busy. The look of horror on his face when I mention this made me take a step back. Clearly we have different ideas on Christmas morning.

Growing up in his house hold it was a free for with kids pulling everything out of Santa Sacks and breakfast was secondary. We were a little more civilised in my house hold in which we only opened our stocking and then sat down to a special breakfast, once finished we would all gather around the Christmas tree opening presents one at a time.

Through much debate we agreed on: a stocking/Santa Sack combo to open before breakfast, followed by a nice breakfast and then some presents wrapped under the tree from Santa and us.

Through our whole relationship my husband and I have battled certain cultural barriers. I mean they are not huge barriers, I’m American and he is Australian. But we have always handled them with grace, understanding and an eagerness to learn where the other one is coming from. However these personal, family traditions that we both hold so sacred have really thrown us off our game. It is odd to think that we both went to these discussions thinking that our traditions were the norm and how dare the other suggest something different.

Anyways we have the plan for this year, who knows what will happen next year when baby #2 is with us.

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