I unapologetically adore the holidays: the music, the decorations, inhaling the glorious scent of pine, the way the season seems to bring out the best in people. That is . . . in most people. For while some of us will be decking the halls with holiday cheer this season, there will also be those less inclined to celebrate – rolling their eyes behind our backs. I know this personally because one of those people just so happens to be my husband: a bona-fide Grinch in the flesh.
I first became aware of my then-boyfriend’s annoyance with the holiday season when we were dating and he would let out an audible groan at the sight of holiday decorations popping up in stores – especially if it happened before November. I would laugh, because by that point I already knew he was a nonconformist and that was in no way a deal-breaker for me. While I was disappointed that enthusiasm for the holidays wasn’t something we would share, I also accept who he is – and I love all of him.
I was, however, still curious. One time I asked him point-blank what it is about Christmas that rubs him the wrong way. He said that it all began about the time he learned the truth about Santa Claus. Suddenly, Christmas wasn’t so magical anymore and became more and more commercialized in his mind. He finds Christmas music grating and shopping in crowded malls akin to hell on earth. As an introvert, I get the shopping part, but I’ll be rocking my Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums to my grave.
Navigating my indulgence in all things Christmas with my husband’s disdain for much of it was never an issue until we became parents. When our first child was born, I was anxious to share the magic of the season with our new baby, and my husband was already hesitant to start traditions that we would have to keep up with year after year.
Those first few years, I simply did it all; the shopping, cooking, and decorating, all of which I enjoyed. But as our family grew, it became very taxing. What made it all worth it to me was seeing how happy it made our children, a happiness that started to rub off onto the Scrooge of the house. You could say his “heart grew three sizes.” He started to thank me for making Christmas so special for our kids and became more willing to help facilitate some of the “magic,” too.
It’s taken some time, but ultimately (and now with three kids), we’ve both compromised to find what works best for our family. My husband helps me with the shopping (so long as it’s online) and wrapping the gifts in the days leading up to Christmas. He’s in charge of cooking the ham for Christmas dinner and supports me however else he can. He now tells me that he loves Christmas day with our little family, just not the season leading up to it. I continue to love the whole holiday season, but I indulge in my Christmas tunes on my own time, and I don’t drag my husband to every tree-lighting festival or meeting with Santa. We are careful to have a few traditions that are important to us but don’t overload the holiday months with obligations or too many traditions. Instead, we keep it simple and special for our family.
Navigating the holidays can be tricky for any relationship, especially one where the differing levels of enthusiasm are as colossal as Mount Crumpit (that’s the mountain where the Grinch makes his home – I told you I love Christmas), but our love for each other – and our children – has helped us to find a good balance.