Christmas Traditions 2.0

Every family has their own set of traditions when it comes to Christmas. Some are passed down from generation to generation, some are created along the way and some are just purely habits that have developed over the years.

My family has several traditions some of each of the above. As a child, and even now, some of my favorite traditions included the following:

  • Visiting my grandparents in Sandstone, MN for Christmas Eve.  There is something so time transporting about a wood burning furnace during winter time.  It reminds me every time of my cousins and I running around as children with crying baby dolls that were given to all us girls that year for Christmas. Or ice-skating on the pond out front.   Even though things have changed and we have all grown up, it still takes me back to the memories of snuggling up in the cold as we are carried out to the car before the sun is even up to head up to the farm.
  • Opening our Christmas presents late Christmas Day.  This is one of those traditions that happened by accident. Most kids run to the tree Christmas morning and open all their presents immediately. Completely opposite of how we spend our Christmas day. As a child my parents hosted Christmas day with my extended family. We would open our stockings in the morning, get ready for the day and then family would arrive and stay into the afternoon. This meant that we waited to open our presents until all our family left. Even though we no longer host Christmas day at my parents we all still wait until late in the afternoon to open our gifts, purely out of habit. I have to say that I love this tradition. Not just because it’s nostalgic for me but because it is a reminder of what Christmas is really about. It’s about the celebration of Jesus’s birth and about cherishing your family time together. So instead of focusing on presents and toys all day, we spend it doing things together. Sometimes the day is spent playing games, sledding, ice-skating, whatever we want to do as a family. And best of all we now spend the day in our pajamas!!
  • The angel. My parents have four children and they did an amazing job growing up of spreading special traditions out evenly. So each year we alternate putting the angel on top of the Christmas tree. Even though we are all grown up my parents still do not put the Angel on top of the tree until all the children are home for the holidays and we can be there together to put the finishing touch on the tree.  As adults we no longer envy the child that gets to put the Angel up, instead we sit back and watch my niece and nephew get excited to be the one to be hoisted up by “Grandpa” to reach the tip of the tree but it’s still a fun tradition that I cherish.

These are only a few of my favorite traditions. I’m sure there are many more that I don’t even realize have no become traditions. But the reason I titled this Christmas 2.0 is that I now have my own family. Even though right now it’s just my husband and I, each year we are starting to develop our own traditions that one day we will pass on to our future children. I wanted to share some of the few traditions that as newlyweds we have already developed.

  • Yearly ornament. Each year my husband and I go to Macy’s and select an ornament for that year. It started the first year we were together and has now become an annual tradition. It is a slightly challenging tasks since my pre-wedded self had developed several years of my own tradition of having only red, white and gold Christmas ornaments. My husband has even expanded on this tradition and decided that he will also collect a new nutcracker each year, which is somewhat comical since he is allergic to nuts.

IMG_49112013 Ornament

IMG_49122012 Ornament

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2011 Ornament

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Here is my husbands new yearly nutcracker collection.

  • Midnight service. This one was started by my husband. A not so Christmassy man, but one that loves his wife very much. As I discussed early in the post every year we go up north for Christmas Eve. One of the usual events is Christmas Eve service at my grandparent’s church. A couple years ago no one was up for the going to service which was disappointing. To me it’s an important part of Christmas. When we got home that night my husband could tell I was a little sad to have missed on the experience this year. I went upstairs to read a book and get ready for bed. About half an hour later my husband came up and told me we were going to midnight service at the church down the road. ( keep in mind my husband isn’t a huge fan of church or Christmas) He saw how excited I got of the idea and it has been a Christmas tradition for the two of us since.
  • Gleason family Christmas. With marriage come in-laws! And I was lucky enough to hit the jackpot with mine. They are the kindest, funniest bunch of people. They celebrate Christmas in a completely different way them my family and I love them for it. Each year they have a Mexican Christmas, which really just means that they serve Mexican food instead of the traditional Christmas meal which by the end of the Christmas season you have had a dozen of. They also do a gift exchange. But it’s not your ordinary gift exchange. It’s sort of like a white elephant gift exchange with funny gifts. Gifts you don’t need but would love to have. Like a wine purse, a pint of whiskey, or a hand painted wine glass. Yes many of the gifts do include alcohol since most of the grand kids are in their 20’s.  It’s a night filled with laughter, good food, and good company.

Even though we only have a few traditions, I can’t wait to develop more. As our families grown I’m excited to see what Christmas changes will come and what traditions will be made.

101 in 1001

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I read this idea on a blog today from Violet Sage and instantly felt it was just what I needed to jumpstart the fall season. Like I’m sure many of you who live in the northern states you love fall, the pumpkins, the apple cider and holiday cheer but the dreary weather …. not so much. So this is a great way to keep me motivated and to also remind myself to take advantage of each day and make memories.

The Challenge:

Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:

Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days?

Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List.’ The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

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Today is October 17th, 2013 so that means that 1001 days from today would be July 12, 2016.

Family & My Relationship

  • Leave a thoughtful note for Kyle in a random place once a week
  •  Cook a special dinner for Kyle once a month
  • Write a will
  • Buy a new house
  • Have a baby Gleason!
  • Put my new family first
  • Take photos at the capital together
  • Develop a plan for our joint financing

Holidays

  • Volunteer 3 times a year
  • Celebrate New Years Eve
  • Create family fun packets for each holiday
  • Start a new “family” tradition
  • Dress up for Halloween
  • Spend Christmas in my pajamas
  • Make a snow fort
  • Line my sidewarlk with colored snow globes made of ice

Traveling and Activities in the Area

  • Go to the winter carnival in downtown St. Paul
  • Go hikeing at fort snelling
  • Take the Gangster tour in St Paul
  • Go on a tour of the state capital
  • Take a trip to Vegas
  • Visit a friend in another state
  • Go camping
  • See a Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas
  • Visit Washington D.C.
  • Take the light rail
  • Go on a road trip with my hubby
  • Go to house on the rock
  • Go on a spur of the moment trip
  • Place a bet at the Canterbury race track
  • Go to Madeline Island
  • Visit the Cathedral of St. Paul
  • Hike at Taylors Falls

Personal

  • Redo my wardrobe
  • Get a new hairdo
  • Write myself notes for difficult days
  • Finish my name change
  • Reorganize my closet
  • Go an entire day without using technology
  • Read 1 book a month
  • Have a happy hour or brunch once a month with old friends

Health & Wellness

  • Start a workout routine
  • Take a daily vitamin
  • Go to 1 candlelight yoga class
  • Lose at least 10 pounds
  • Work on better posture
  • Meditate
  • Practice stress relief techniques
  • Do another 5k

Work & Event Planning

  • Get a raise
  • Reopen my Etsy shop
  • Sell 50 items in Etsy shop
  • Attend a project management lecture
  • Start a wedding planning website
  • Coordinate 50 weddings
  • Network with other wedding planners

My Home

  • Finish the downstairs bathroom
  • Create room for a nursery
  • Rebuild stairs in basement
  • Add decals to basement stairs
  • Finish trim in the basement
  • Board off fireplace in basement

Crafts

  • Learn to read a crochet pattern
  • Learn how to take pictures
  • Finish wedding book
  • Finish honeymoon book
  • Finish my relationship scrapbook
  • Set time aside to scrapbook twice a month
  • Create 5 crafts off Pinterest
  • Create a hidden bookshelf storage bin
  • Sew something

Cooking

  • Have a dinner party
  • Try a new recipe
  • Make homemade ravioli
  • Make something from Pinterest
  • Make homemade cream cheese wontons
  • Go to a farmers market
  • Use every cooking items received from our wedding
  • Develop a recipe of my own
  • Make a homemade pie

Event Planning & Blogging

  • Create a strategy for my blog
  • Contribute at least 1 blog post a week
  • Start up my color inspiration posts
  • Upload my fun packets to my website
  • Print every fun packet I’ve created
  • Create a binder for my fun packets
  • Finish my portfolio

Finances

  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Save up 6 months of essential bills
  • Buy a fireproof safe
  • Combine my 401k accounts

Just Because

  • Donate to the World Wildlife Fund
  • Send a “Just Because” letter to someone monthly
  • Grow a successful garden
  • Grow an orchid
  • Learn to say “no” to others when needed
  • Buy myself flowers just because
  • Press fall leaves
  • Sponsor an animal at the como zoo every year
  •  Prepare my next 101 in 1001
  • Encourage someone else to do their own 101 in 1001

92 days of Wedded Bliss

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We have been married for 92 days. It seems like such a short period of time but so many things have happened in those three months. We have experiences new things together and gotten to know eachother more. In these three months I have learned these very important things…..

You have to appreciate each other’s strengths and forgive eachothers weaknesses

Your relationship is never going to be 100% equal; there should be no scorecard or a mental tally sheet. You each bring separate things to the table that are not measurable. An example, I hate doing the dishes. I grew up with a dishwasher and the idea of hand washing dishes is completely foreign to me. I’m not saying that I don’t do any housework because I do. I have no problem making the beds, sweeping and cleaning the counters but the dishes are just not my thing. In comparison a completely foreign idea to my husband is planning a trip to see our parents, sending a thank you card or picking out a birthday gift, this is where my area of expertise comes into play. Early in our marriage it was clear what our key strengths were. Kyle is all about building the foundation and I’m all about enhancing our lives. Kyle takes care of the necessities such as feeding the pets and mowing the lawn where I take the dog for walks, brushing the cats out and planting the garden. Each play an important role in our daily lives but highlight our strengths allowing us to appreciate what we each bring to the marriage.

Little things mean the world

I know you have heard this a million times and that’s because its 100% true. As stated above Kyle normally does the dishes but the small task of me coming home early from work and doing the dishes for him brings an instant smile on his face and an instant smile on mine when I can tell he feels appreciated.  Kyle likes stop by the store to pick up a bottle of wine for me when he knows I had a rough day just to show me that he cares.  So it’s really important to remember that small gestures make a marriage. It’s the constant reminder that you appreciate one another and want to that you want show it.

We each have our own way to express ourselves

I grew up in a family that my dad likes to phrase in this way “All Chiefs and no Indians”. Meaning we all have strong personalities and we all have no problem getting our feelings across. Kyle complete opposite. I have to tell him when he is upset which mostly comes in the form of crabbiness and even then he won’t admit that he is upset for at least another day. When Kyle and I did our pre-marital counseling the pastor told us that when it all comes down to it Kyle needs things to be fair and I need everyone to be happy. This information seems very obvious with our personality types but I make a conscious decision to remember this at the back of my mind at all time because a majority of the time I know that if Kyle is upset that he is feeling as though something is not fair. I often show my emotional state with laziness. Feeling as though things are unsettling of not in harmony mainly makes me discouraged. As our marriage progress’ it’s important that we are able to recognize each other’s emotions and learn the best way to turn each other’s moods around or give each other space to be crabby. This is something I think a lot of couples forget. You can’t be “on” all the time, sometimes you just want to be crabby.

Each day is a memory in the making

I’m a newlywed! Everyone always talks about their first few years of marriage and all the memories they had. It’s a special time that you will always remember. And it is. We are every day making memories that we will tell our children someday. But it’s not just because we are newlyweds. Every day no matter how long you have been married is an opportunity to make a memory. More often than not your favorite memories are the unexpected. Kyle and I waited to go on our honeymoon so we both took a few days off to just relax and decompress from the wedding. I thought it would be needed since it’s a very wonderful but exhausting experience. What I didn’t expect was that those two days of just relaxing together were the two best days of our relationship. We didn’t do anything particularly special. Played mini-golf, went to the zoo, grilled but it was a memory I will keep with me forever

Not every day is perfect

Two Sundays after we got married Kyle and I attended our church together. Our pastor who had just married us the week before was so excited to see us and to announce to the congregation that we had just been married. After we were greeted by the congregation an older woman told us something I will never forget. She told us to do lots of fighting our first year of marriage. She said that if you never fight the first year that means one of you is holding back are not being honest with the other. I thought it was the most amazing advice I had ever been given. She had a point. Your first years of marriage are the years that you build the foundation of your marriage on. They are the years that you learn each other’s buttons, how you handle conflict, what will drive one another crazy. And if you aren’t honest about it how will you work out the differences? It’s not an easy process and there will be bumps but I have never had someone tell me that their first year of marriage was a piece of (wedding) cake

My husband hates new things

This one is more just to commiserate. My husband is a very routine person. He eats the same thing every day, has used the same coffee cup for 10+ years, and refuses to use the new Keurig because his old coffee pot is just fine. And really none of this bothers me, it’s the man I married and I knew what I was getting into. One thing I did not anticipate is all the wedding gifts. We registered together and agreed on what to replace etc. etc. But when everything showed up it was difficult to calm the very noticeable stress coming from my husband and also our dog… who apparently has a very similar temperament to her owner. As a women though I love new things. I love to organize it and make things homey. I had to remind him that the chaos was only temporary and to be patient while we put everything away. Luckily after a month or so everything was in its place and he had survived the great story of June 2013. But there is a lesson to be learned in this. I never dismissed his feelings or anxiety. I never made him feel bad about his attachment to the ways things were. We just moved forward together with some encouragement, some work and a little laughter.