"I want that one," exclaimed my husband in a central aisle of Walmart.
I wasn't so sure. I glanced back and forth at the competition. It was certainly beautiful. But it was also huge. It was going to be ours and a foundation for Christmas in our family for many years to come. I couldn't take such a decision lightly.
"Will it even be able to fit it in our house?" I asked my husband.
"Of course it will. I'll make it fit."
"It's a magnificent tree, but it's just so big," I responded. "And there's only two of us."
He looked back at me with eyes that said, "All my life I've dreamt of having the biggest Christmas tree in the neighborhood," and gave my hand a squeeze.
How could I resist?
Thus began the tradition of Christmas in our new family - even if it was only two of us. As we trim our beautiful tree every year and it touches the ceiling, I laugh to myself. And I think about the delight and excitement of our first Christmas as husband and wife.
I would be remiss to leave you with the fairytale version. In truth it was an adjustment. There were discussions, compromise, flexibility, and some disappointment. But our first Christmas is a happy memory for me. It can be for you too.
His People are Your People
"But Ruth replied, 'Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.'" (Ruth 1:16)
As a newcomer to the family, you can feel like an intruder. There are jokes you don't get, and often you get stuck talking with great aunt Mabel because, well, you're the newbie. You feel pressure since you still want to impress everyone and make them like you.
Now that you are husband and wife, his people are your people. They are your family now too. You do fit in. They love you because they love him. They accept you because they accept him. You belong in the family.
"A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men." (Proverbs 18:16)
It is natural to desire the favor of your spouse's relatives. And nothing invites acceptance more than contributing to the celebration. It doesn't have to be grand; simply making an effort speaks volumes of your willingness to serve one another.
I've never been the world's greatest cook, but I make a killer rocky road. It's become my signature Christmas dish and let me assure you, no one begrudges my rocky road! The Bible says a gift makes way for you, and there's nothing better than a gift you've made with love.
Start New Traditions Together
"And he said, 'This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’" (Matthew 19:5)
You are a new family. Sure there will be some traditions you will keep from your childhood, but forming rituals together is part of becoming one.
The most special times of Christmas are the little traditions I have formed with my husband. We have a ritual around putting up the tree, movies we watch, and singing carols by candlelight while wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, among others. They aren't traditions we brought from our families, they are the traditions we created together.
Set Healthy Boundaries
You can't do everything. You won't keep everyone happy. You can't be in two places at once. Your first Christmas is going to make some people unhappy. It is okay to set time limits on how long you will spend at Christmas functions. Most importantly, spend time together as a couple.
"Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentation 3:23)
Adjusting to the quirks of a new family can create awkward moments. But then there may be times when some are obnoxious, rude, and perhaps even a little abusive. Show grace. This is the first of many Christmases to come. You have access to new grace every morning. Use it!
Focus on What is Most Important
"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
Many may claim Christmas is all about family, but we know it is so much more. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. The Savior of the world was born and His birth was the beginning of new life in all of us. He is why we can be merry at Christmas. He is the reason we gather together, give gifts and sing songs. Just as He is the center of your marriage, allow Jesus to be the center of your holiday season.
May your first Christmas be the beginning of new traditions and beautiful memories with your spouse. Because you are together, this Christmas will be your happiest yet.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 16, 2016