The first holiday season as a couple can be tricky. Yet through the years we find our way through tangled lights and broken ornaments to establish what the holiday season is to us.
My good friend Amanda was generous enough to share with us her experience of finding their way to celebrate the season.
Last Christmas was my first as a married woman, and I learned a few lessons, both on marriage and on style. As a new homeowner, I had done little else but pour over pages of of Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple and Pottery Barn as I dreamed of all the redecorating plans I had for my new house. Though my husband, Nate, in his characteristically cheerful and optimistic way, thought our new house was pretty great just the way it was, he agreed I should have “carte blanche” when it came to the decorating. Good deal, right?
We got along fine like this for several months. Our seemingly daily trips to Menard’s and Lowe’s changed however in early November when visions of sugar plums began dancing in Nate’s head as we passed the Christmas decoration displays. “I can’t wait for Christmas!” he said, as he pointed out gold Mylar garlands, multi-colored Santa displays and lights that flashed in coordination with music.
Was he serious? This stuff was unbelievably tacky! My face must have said it all, because he quickly said, “I think you should let ME be in charge of Christmas cheer. I know about what looks festive.” I was dubious to say the least, but Christmas decorating was pretty low on my priority list right then.
We went back and forth like this for a few weeks, but when Nate eagerly pulled out his Christmas decorations I was horrified! He had a story about memories of the origins of each childhood ornament. He even had the lights – large, multicolored, screw-in bulbs and those old plastic bubble-lights with the liquid inside that actually bubbles!
“No way!” I said. “This stuff is so old and garish and tacky!” I tried to explain that a tasteful, color-coordinated theme would be so much better. “What’s the theme of this… Childhood in 1979?” He couldn’t believe I didn’t see the nostalgic appeal of the ornament he got in a Happy Meal 30 years ago. We were not seeing eye to eye on this, and surprisingly, my normally deferential husband was holding firmly to his opinions on style in this matter.
We went to the store to get a few other things later that day and Nate said, “we need stockings!” As we looked at the different styles, none of which were really appealing to me, Nate grabbed some fuzzy red-and-white Santa-themed stockings, “How about these?”
“Ugh!” I said, looking at my limited options, and knowing he wanted to walk out with something that day.
Taking a quilted satin stocking in hand, I said, “Maybe these are better.”
The tension between us growing, he sighed and said, “Okay. We’ll get those.”
As we drove away from the store with our decoration purchases, Nate said, “So are you happy now? We got the decorations you wanted?”
Surprised I said, “That stuff wasn’t really MY choice. I just thought it was the best of my options and you wanted to get something now.”
Exasperated, Nate replied, “So neither one of us likes this stuff?” Both frustrated, we returned home in silence and Nate left soon after for a meeting.
As I sat alone in the house looking at all our Christmas stuff, I came to an important conclusion. Even though I don’t agree with Nate’s sense of Christmas decorating style, the bottom line is, it’s only for about 4 weeks a year, and it is just WAY more important to him than it is to me. Nate LOVES Christmas. So I got back in the car, went back to the store, returned all the stuff we just purchased, and bought everything Nate had expressed an interest in earlier.
When he got home a few hours later, I showed him everything, apologized for calling his stuff “tacky,” and promised to give him “carte blanche” on Christmas decorations. In the end our Christmas theme was a somewhat kitsch-y “Childhood in 1979,” but I have to admit, it WAS festive and more importantly, Nate was really happy…a small price to pay for peace on earth, or at least in our home at Christmastime. – Amanda Polzin