"We can have a big fancy dinner, or we can warm up leftovers; we can be out on the beach, or we can be at home on the couch. We are happy just being together."
We know, we know, between the shopping pressures and lots of family obligations, the holidays can be a stressful time. But if you’re a newly engaged or newly married couple, the holidays can also be a time with plenty to celebrate. So let’s focus on the positive!
We reached out to couples to find out how they’re working to create new holiday traditions this year, whether it’s because they are together for the first time or it’s because they are a smaller group than usual due to the pandemic. Here’s what they had to say.
Gabbi & Brett
Brett and Gabbi Anderson got married last October at the InterContinental Hotel Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport surrounded by family and friends in a navy, white, grey, and silver affair. Here’s what they’re doing to create new holiday traditions:
“Our favorite family traditions include playing card games (especially Hand and Foot), watching holiday movies (Brett has taught Gabbi to appreciate National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. She had never seen it before meeting him!), driving around and looking at lights with our grandmother (and sometimes doing donuts on icy roads and watching her laugh), and of course just spending time with family and forgetting about work and our responsibilities for a few days.”
While COVID has changed the ability to gather with family this season, “Brett’s side of the family is good at using Zoom so we will do some 30-60 minute calls. We normally do a Secret Santa exchange so instead of bringing them to one house and exchanging, we drew names and are shipping family members’ gifts. Gabbi’s side does not use Zoom, so we will use phone calls. Instead of enjoying a meal prepared by several family members, we are making our own meal that we’ve never tried making before (Beef Wellington). We will still play card games and watch movies as a couple.”
“We have taught each other to not take for granted the time we spend with family.“
Every couple, new and old, can take this advice on how to create new holiday traditions from the Andersons, “We will make sure to still drive and look at lights, and take some time where we don’t think about our work or responsibilities. We both work for senior living organizations, so COVID-19 is very real and near to us daily. We will still do a gift exchange but it’s via mail instead of in person.” And while they don’t celebrate with cultural traditions, they appreciate family most. “We have taught each other to not take for granted the time we spend with family — we both are lucky to live near our extended families and saw them several times a year prior to COVID so this year is very different because we are close with our families.”
Reena & John
We recently featured Reena & John’s vibrant wedding that took place last August. Reena, a wedding planner herself, tells us, “Growing up I never celebrated Christmas other than exchanging small gifts with friends or baking mass amounts of cookies and bars — although I would at times pretend our gigantic rubber plant was a Christmas tree! John grew up with some of the holiday trimmings — trees, presents, etc. — but for him, that hasn’t been important. Our holiday traditions together have consisted of travel! We have typically left town over the holidays and either visited family or just traveled for fun. If we stayed in town we’d hang out with friends or my parents. We often watch movies or binge shows during our time off, regardless of where we are!”
While travel has been put on hold, Reena and John won’t let COVID prevent the holiday traditions of enjoying sweet treats and fun shows they can watch from home, “This is the first year we’ve been home for every holiday, and we haven’t been able to spend time with friends & family. We’ll still binge-watch movies and shows as we’ve done throughout this year. I will definitely be reviving my tradition of baking and I’ll also be buying some locally made goodies this year to drop off for friends. I feel it’s what I can do to bring some joy, be creative, and support local business.”
“We can have a big fancy dinner, or we can warm up leftovers; we can be out on the beach, or we can be at home on the couch. We are happy just being together.”
And just like the Andersons, Reena and John know what’s most important, for which Reena credits John for getting creative in ways to create new holiday traditions, “When it comes to celebrations, what John has taught me is that it doesn’t really matter what we do or where we go. We can have a big fancy dinner, or we can warm up leftovers; we can be out on the beach, or we can be at home on the couch. We are happy just being together.”
And if you’re looking for other ways to create new holiday traditions, consider these options as well:
- Volunteering at a local shelter
- Going all out on a fancy dinner in lieu of gifts
- Preparing stockings for each other to open Christmas morning
- Bake cookies at home together
- Reminisce by reading past holiday cards
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