Making new, celebrating old.

“You know, humans are weird. I’m here, in a city, carrying a tree from outside, so I can take it inside. All because 2000 years ago, God was born. And the weirdest part of that is totally not me or the tree.”  – James

December-1December-7December-9December-4December-13December-12December-10December-14December-16 December-17 This week James and I went to pick up a little tree for our apartment. Despite the little size of our place, and of our tree stand, James kept trying to bring back a huge tree. Finally we settled for this one, a fat little tree that is just a little too big for our single strand of lights and meager collection of ornaments. The tree sellers in Eastern Market also let me collect a big bag of scraps that now cover the tops of all our shelves, intertwined with some festive red berries. It’s not exactly a Martha Stewart Christmas, but it’s cozy and we love it.

The funny thing about getting married and starting a new family is that you have to carve out new traditions. We can’t do things the way my family did, or the way James’ family did. Instead, we have to start our own things, have to figure out the way that we do things in this new family.  Holidays bring this making of newness to the forefront.

Last year we started some new Christmas traditions. On the day we get our tree, we bring it back and decorate the apartment. We play our favorite Christmas music and make gingerbread cookies (slice and back here — let’s not get crazy) and then drink hot cocoa and eggnog while watching Elf. We rewind at all our favorite parts, laugh, and then turn off all the apartment lights when it’s over, just so we can sit in the feeble glow of our fat little tree. It’s not much, and it’s nothing fancy, but it’s ours.

But it also has me thinking about what traditions we will put in place to protect Christmas, to keep it from being just fun movies and beautiful trees. The craziest thing about Christmas isn’t all the silly traditions we put in place, but it’s the fact that we have a reason to celebrate Christmas at all, that God became flesh and dwelt among us.

What are some of your Christmas traditions?

December-18

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14 Responses to Making new, celebrating old.

  1. RA says:

    Lovely, lovely. Our decorating scheme can be summed up thus: red berry garlands/stems, white IKEA vases, and tea lights. :)

    My husband and I have picked and chosen from each other’s traditions, and I love that cozy interweaving of the old and new:

    – His: real tree, not listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, putting lights on the house, sending cards
    – Mine: watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas story on Christmas morning, baking lots of cookies (well, this is just me, but he partakes)
    – Ours: only using white lights, adding a framed picture ornament to the tree that symbolizes the past year (this year, his brother’s wedding), filling the other’s stocking with candy (for him: dark chocolate Kisses and 100 Grand bars; for me: Swedish fish and Twizzlers)

  2. Johanna says:

    We are just in the making of new traditions again, with our four month old son. Before, we’ve made some kind of puzzle out of traditions from both our families, but this year I broke down in tears trying to get the gingerbread cookies done on time. From scratch with my grandma’s secret recipe. And decorated. And I have some weird fixation that everything has to be done before the first sunday in advent (which is a big deal in Sweden). Next year I will try to listen to every blog and article and expert and friend who tells me this, that christmas with your new family means not twice the work to keep all the traditions, but a new way of celebrating with new traditions. Wow, maybe I should pick up my blog again instead of writing so very long comments!

    And in response to your question, we don’t have a creche (if that is the correct word, otherwise google “julkrubba” for images) and every year we build one from my husband’s old Legos. It looks a little strange with an astronaut as an angel and a stable with very bright colored walls and really big sheep in comparison to the shepard. But it is my favourite tradition.

  3. E. Henry says:

    LOVE your quote from James!

  4. J.R. Baldwin says:

    We have no set traditions yet… last Christmas, we were 4 days married and in Arizona. I cried during mass because I was so happy to be married and I missed my family in Cincinnati, thinking about all our family traditions happening without me, and how weird Christmas would be at a lavishly decorated-for-Christmas resort. But at least we had snow! (Yes, in AZ. Shock to us too!) This year, I’m realizing that *we* are going to have to make Christmas happen, because my mom is not here to decorate. And that’s weird. So, I’ll be hanging stockings today, and we’ll buy a tree, and I’ll take the Holy Family out of their box, and find the Christmas mugs, and then I need to research stockings for Grace… all while wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts. :)

  5. I put up my (fake) tree yesterday, and now I can finally wrap gifts :). I put up a tree even though I’ll be spending Christmas at my parents’ place. It makes everything feel festive and cozy. It’s a short tree in keeping with my little place. I elevate it on a trunk so it doesn’t look so pitiful.

    Hey, no snow where you are! I’ve got about 8 inches, and it’s snowing now so there could be more. Do you ever get a white Christmas?

    • Hannah says:

      We usually don’t get a white Christmas. : ( I think I’ve only had one maybe 4 times, and it is always SO exciting! We will be with James’ family further north this year so I am hoping for snow!

  6. Reblogged this on healthy homeschool family and commented:
    This is such a nice article about starting off as newlyweds and making their own Christmas traditions! Slow down and enjoy the reason for Christmas! Life is good! God is GREAT! Enjoy this article from The Art In Life!

  7. Laura says:

    We do the same thing – get our tree, bring it home and set it up, put on the lights and ornaments while listening to Christmas music, and watch a Christmas movie (if we have time). Traditions are so fun! You and James are right though – the weirdest part about it all is the story from thousands of years ago. So thankful for that.

  8. Charla says:

    I LOVE your hubby’s sentiments! He is wise! Our favorite tradition that we started when my oldest son was 2 was the run-of-the-mill paper countdown chain. I buy cute scrapbook paper, of course, but the BEST part of the whole shebang is writing down the name of loved ones on the inside of each link. As we tear the link off at dinner each night we pray for the person who is named. Helps keep us ALL prayerful and others-centered during this special time of the year. Merry CHRISTmas to you and yours!

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