Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Traditions

My husband, poor guy, is slowly but surely learning the importance of celebrating the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong - he knows the importance of the season! But having lived as a bachelor for so many years on his own, he never got to experience the importance of traditions that (I think) make it even more special and memorable along the way.

Last year, when we were still just dating, and I was preparing to make the third of 5 moves in a year from one house to another, I lamented about not being able to decorate for Christmas. SM offered his place, at which point I was both ever-grateful for the offer and shocked he had never had a Christmas tree since coming to Holland (Michigan). How could that be?! Lucky for me, my new roommate asked me to come early to help decorate my new house with her tree, and I used my own small Christmas tree from years past to decorate with the man I would later marry.

It was fun. He loved having the ambiance of a tree, and his parents were more than impressed at this girl who brought Christmas cheer to his life, apparently. :)

Come this year, after navigating Thanksgiving across Indiana together, we’re now moving into the Christmas season as a married couple for the first time. I’m so thankful to be living in ONE PLACE for awhile ;) and to be establishing traditions together. What SM didn’t know, though, was the importance of said traditions. Putting up a Christmas tree? Yes. Candles? He’s learning ;). Christmas movies? This is a brand new thing.

I used to love watching Christmas movies on TV while making Christmas cookies at my parent’s house. Early in college, I decided to make this a tradition, and set out to acquire copies of my favorites. I didn’t realize at the time just how important this would be for my soon-to-be transient lifestyle, but I am forever thankful I did. Because Christmas. Became Christmas. When White Christmas, Elf, and Miracle on 34th Street hit the (laptop) screen. Later The Nativity Story got added to the mix, and housemates insisted on Home Alone’s presence in the lineup. In climates where Christmas falls in the hottest season of the year, and temps flux between 80 and 100 with 98% humidity and full sun, it was helpful to have little things in place that helped make the season feel a little more like, well, the holidays. We’d do things like make snowflakes out of A4 (printer) paper to put on the windows while eating fresh pineapple from the duka down the street, and watch the year-before’s downloaded Thanksgiving parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as we feasted on the biggest chicken we could find (since we didn’t have the day off). Or turn on the air conditioning full blast (though it didn’t really do much!) while watching white Christmas and let ourselves pretend we were in a place where things were “normal.”

But SM, poor guy, didn’t quite understand this before now. So when I mentioned watching some of the Christmas movies that we watched together last year AGAIN, just 12 months later… he was confused. “But we just watched that last year? You mean you watch them ALL EVERY year?”

Yep! I sure do!

Because when you live in places where it doesn’t “feel” like Christmas, such traditions become important.

Later, my favorite person, as he slowly accepted and adjusted to this idea of watching Christmas movies EVERY.Single.year. asked a few insightful questions.

1. Do any of the “traditional” Christmas movies have anyone of color in them?
Hmm. Ouch. Well, no. Unless you count the cook in Miracle on 34th Street, everyone is pretty much just… white. As a cross-cultural missionary and now in a cross-cultural marriage… this makes me cringe. They’ll still get watched every year… but my eyes have definitely been opened!

2. Aren’t there any GUY Christmas movies?
Again… hmm. Neither of us are huge fans of Home Alone. And I’ve never actually seen the Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation... so I don’t know if that counts. We rewatched Elf this year and he’s apparently decided that it’s a great guy movie, but we could still use some more. Someone recently suggested that Star Wars #5 has a desert/snow scene so that might work. Any other suggestions? Anyone?

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