New Family Traditions
New Family Traditions of Our Own
One of the hardest things for newly married couples to figure out is how to blend the traditions from each of their families. Where should they go on Christmas Eve? Who should they spend Thanksgiving with? Do stockings get hung on the mantle, or along the wall? And should the tree be fresh or plastic?
When couples come from two distinctly different religious backgrounds, the questions can get even more intense. Particularly when children come into play and grandmothers on each side begin lobbying for the child’s religious upbringing and eternal soul.
A lot of the time this juggling becomes not about compromising as a couple, but rather about assuaging extended family members in both directions. For the first few years, a lot of couples get caught up in trying to keep everyone happy. They hyper-extend themselves in an attempt to meet all obligations and continue on with the traditions they each have enjoyed since childhood. The problem is that all this bending and caving leaves little room for them to create new family traditions together. They get so invested in adhering to the customs of their past, that they lose sight of creating memories as a little family of two and beyond.
Eventually, usually right around the time kids enter the picture and appeasing everyone begins to lose its appeal, most couples do put their feet down and start cocooning around their immediate family unit as they build a few new family traditions of their own. It is period of growing pains that nearly every newlywed couple and extended family has to one day endure, but sometimes the sooner these changes begin, the easier the transitions can be.
That doesn’t mean you have to forgo holidays with your family or that you should stop joining your parents for the week long camping trip they plan every summer. If you enjoy these events, and as a couple decide you want to keep them, there is no reason not to continue on with the traditions of your past. Still, you can also begin to form a few new family traditions of your own as well. Perhaps that means sticking to something small, like purchasing one special ornament each year as a couple for your tree. Or maybe you want to go bigger, by hosting Christmas dinner at your house and inviting members of both families for an event catered to everyone.
In the early years of your marriage, you can center some of your new family traditions around the common theme of money being tight. Set limits on the amount you are allowed to spend on each other for gifts and place the focus on thoughtfulness as opposed to monetary value. Find a cause you are each passionate about and make a point of committing a few hours of your time to volunteering together on a regular basis. Start daydreaming about a trip which may seem incredibly out of reach, and set a goal to get there in five years – ferreting away your spare change in a dream jar that sits perched upon your dresser. The point is to build memories together, creating customs and traditions you can keep up for years to come.
Don’t expect these things to all fall into place overnight. Like I said already, it is pretty common for many couples to spend the first few years of their marriage instead trying to maintain the traditions of their past. Still, if you and your new spouse head out to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show one night and have an absolute blast, perhaps that is an evening to repeat together again the following year.
After all, traditions don’t have to be traditional. They just have to be those little things you look forward to as a couple and the memories you can look back on year after year with a smile.