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0:00:37 – Speaker 2
Today on the show we’re talking about disagreeing on Christmas traditions. but it’s not Mandy and I disagreeing, It is my husband, who I’ve invited back to the show. Welcome back, Charles.
0:00:47 – Speaker 3
Hey, thanks for having me back everybody. It’s so fun to be here.
0:00:55 – Speaker 2
This is what happens when we’re on break and you have good rest and no work stress. You are like the life of the party.
0:01:02 – Speaker 3
What? No, this is me all the time. What he’s talking about is Christmas, is the best time of the year. Everybody loves it and everybody should love it, and it doesn’t bring up any past memories of pain or loneliness ever to anyone.
0:01:14 – Speaker 2
So there’s your preview of the show. Now you know we’re going to talk about our past and how that plays into our current traditions. See, it’s fun to have you on the show. Okay, i got to tell you about when I was a little girl for Christmas, because it was all like lollipops and dreams and happy days. It was just me and my mom. My parents divorced, but Christmas was always like this exciting, fun, wonderful time of year. In fact, it lasted beyond Christmas because my mom shopped so much that every year I knew in the weeks after Christmas she would find more presents that she had stuffed away somewhere, like in a shoebox or an attic or under her bed that she forgot about. So it was like Christmas morning and then some.
0:01:57 – Speaker 3
Like bonus Christmas.
0:01:58 – Speaker 2
It was bonus Christmas, that was our other holiday And it’s still like that to this day. I can’t tell you how many times when my mom has said oh wait, i just remembered another present and ran back to the house or whatever. She just shops all year and loves giving gifts. But it wasn’t just about the gifts. I remember we would always serve at the soup kitchen, we would be in the play, the Christmas play at church, we would sing in the choir, we would go caroling. I mean it was like everything on steroids at Christmas, but it was all good things. The word I would use is probably excess. It was a lot of everything, but that’s what was normal for us And so naturally I thought that’s what we would do when we got married and had kids. We would do all the things, we would buy all the things, go to all the places, and then I got married. So that’s a story we’re going to fast forward to what the reality of was, because you’re growing up years or different than mine.
0:02:56 – Speaker 3
Yeah, i don’t really have a lot of fond memories of Christmas. I think a lot of that was my parents also divorced when I was really young, prior to the divorce. I don’t really remember Christmas and Christmas traditions with just me and my mom, because my mom had a different job than your mom did. We didn’t spend hardly anything. I don’t really remember any. I mean, yeah, there were church things and school things that were the normal seasonal type of stuff, but Christmases were very slim. We didn’t really. I don’t really remember any big things, i just remember not having a lot.
But I do remember one Christmas, you know, really stood out and it was the first Christmas that I realized that we were the recipients of like an angel tree type of Christmas.
For those of you that don’t know that, it’s sort of like when your family gets adopted by like a church family or somebody else and they just kind of give anonymously And it was like this abundance of presents like out of the blue, and they were from people that I didn’t even know And I realized that we were poor.
We were the recipients of families from around the church communities and neighboring communities that gave to me and to my mom And I was like, oh man, this is. It was kind of nice, but it was also kind of sad in the same regard, and so it was just, it was a strange. It’s strange for me to open up gifts. It’s still strange for me to like even receive gifts. I struggle with that now with our own Christmas, because it’s really like the two ends of the spectrum, like you had your Hallmark version Christmases and I had my like kind of skimpy ones, and then it turns out that I’m like I don’t like intend to be the Grinch or like the Scrooge of things, but I had, like I find myself really really struggling with the abundance, the excess of Christmas.
0:04:48 – Speaker 2
And then I remember you had this moment after we were married, when you were a teacher. Actually, that also made a really big impression on you as an adult in regards to Christmas and traditions and excess.
0:05:02 – Speaker 3
Yeah, i don’t know if everybody ever did this as an experiment as a kid, but this was known as, like the egg drop experiment, although some of you probably remember doing that right, where you were to take an egg and you were to somehow build a device that protected it from a particular drop.
Well, as a teacher, i wanted to do that too, and we put our own little spin on it. It was fun I mean, like every single kid loved it And some kids projects ranged from literally just like putting the egg in a jar of peanut butter to some kids like created things that you know Elon Musk would be proud of, right. But one group of kids and it’s just one particular year I had a group of kids that were refugees from, i think, rwanda or Uganda, with like a warren torn Central Africa country, right, and they had the hardest time understanding the concept of launching an egg in the air just for the sake of to see if it would be destroyed or not. Because, from where they were from, an egg was such a valuable commodity, because it meant food, it meant sustenance And it was a prized type of food because it was protein And it was something that that would mean so much to them and their family.
That had some of the students come up to me and they asked if they could just do the project without the egg And at first I didn’t really understand And I was like, well, no, you have to test it out to see if the egg would break when we launch it. And they were like, well, i rather just not do it. Can I just keep the egg and take it home, because this would mean a lot to my family? And after getting just well, initially, just like heartbroken, it also just kind of brought me back to man, just like an unbelievable sense of perspective that that I was just kind of like thrown in my face Like here’s, here we are, just like launching eggs for the sake of an experiment that really has like nothing to do at all with with sustainability or eating them or whatever. We’re literally using food just to see if it would break or not to these kids who would sacrifice a grade like their assignment or their overall grading assignment for this one project, just so they could take the eggs home to their families.
And that reminded me a little bit of like growing up and it reminded me of what it meant to have food and what it meant to have, you know, clothes. And for the most part, i’ll be honest with you, like Christmas is for me as a kid was a chance for me just to get clothes for school and for you know just other things, because as I was continue to grow like that was a chance for me to get new shoes and new pants and new shirts. And that was it. It wasn’t. It was meant to kind of serve a need. It wasn’t. Like you know, oh, this new device or this new toy, just for sheer entertainment or enjoyment.
0:07:37 – Speaker 2
Yeah, kind of the opposite of my upbringing And you didn’t have a lot of memories of traditions or anything like that, and that was everything in my household. You know we did these certain things every year. So here we are, coming from these two opposite ends of the spectrum, and we get married and wedded bliss. That conversation somehow never came up before.
0:08:01 – Speaker 3
I was like living in a crazy world And then you thought I was this horrible, evil person that they didn’t want to celebrate the most happy time of year.
0:08:09 – Speaker 2
Exactly. It was really hard, which sounds funny, because a lot of times when you’re talking about marriage disagreements, it’s over money or the way that you’re going to rear your children, or religion. you know, whatever it might be, but for us this was like one of our biggest issues when we first got married, and even bigger when the kids came along.
0:08:29 – Speaker 3
Oh my gosh, it was worse than it was like oh, way worse. when the first like I had to take two days off, like I had to like leave the house for two days after Christmas just to like process, like what just happened.
0:08:42 – Speaker 2
So here’s where we’re at. We don’t want you to think this show you know, now we’re in, you know 17 years of marriage. We don’t want you to think this show is just about disagreeing over Christmas. The point is, any tradition, anything that you bring into your marriage, is going to come from who you were, and so this show really applies to anything in marriage where you have to come together and create like a new norm, and so that’s the point we want to make, with how different we were on this topic and how we ended up coming together and are still coming together on that and other things. So how do we do that?
Number one your past shapes much of who you are.
You have to share it, which sounds so obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I meet, especially moms, who, in conversation and because of my background and my love for marriage and family therapy and conversation and open communication, that’s where I go with people in a conversation.
Tell me about this, tell me about that, what was like when you were a kid? I can’t tell you how many times people are sharing their stories with me and I’ll say, well, what is your spouse? think about that. And they’ll say, well, I haven’t. You know, i’ve not really brought it up, i didn’t think it was that important, which is shocking to me, but I think that’s more than norm, than we realize. Or you share some things and kind of glaze over the things that are painful, or you don’t want to deal with, or you kind of forgot because you stuffed it down so deep And that’s the things that we’re talking about. You have got to share all the stuff so your spouse or your person knows where you’re coming from, how you’re put together, and what seems normal for you or abnormal comes from your story.
0:10:17 – Speaker 3
Yeah, i think so. I think you know, for a lot of people the holidays bring out a lot of emotion, good or bad, right, and it’s so like whatever you’re feeling normally is about, you know, general celebrations. The holidays tend to make it.
0:10:32 – Speaker 2
It magnifies it.
0:10:33 – Speaker 3
Yeah, accentuate it. You know. So if you didn’t have a positive childhood, chances are the holidays were worse. If you had a great childhood and you really enjoyed it, the holidays were probably pretty amazing and you kind of want more of that And so. But if you don’t share that with your significant other, you’re kind of left, you know, like at the opposite end to your, like how we were talking, and just sort of like nobody enjoying it. You know, because if your spouse is not enjoying the holidays, you’re kind of left scratching your head, going man, i must be doing something wrong. I enjoyed all this. Why isn’t my spouse enjoying all these things? Or sometimes, you know, you just sort of state like I was just trying to stay silent for a while and I was just sort of tolerate the holidays and people like tolerate the holidays. How could you just tolerate the holidays? It’s the most magical time of year, you know. And so it’s important that you do have to share your past, because so much of your past shapes who you currently are.
0:11:27 – Speaker 2
Well, in you know, in our experience, we talked for years before we got married And then, once we were married, we talk all the time And I thought I knew everything about you And I just learned some stories about Christmas and your childhood recently, because, again, people don’t think it’s that important.
Some of those stories or you forget about it, or it’s not relevant, or it’s not something that has come up So you didn’t think to share it. And, like the Angel Tree story, that’s one that I just learned a few years ago and that put so much into perspective for me and helped me understand where you were coming from so much better. And there’s things that come up for me now that I just forgot, and sometimes they’re embarrassing and you don’t want to share them, but it explains so much about the way you’re acting, and so that sharing of the story thing is probably one of the most important things when you’re trying to get on the same page with your family and with your spouse and how you’re going to move forward and create your new norm, because that’s what it is Once you’re married, you get to lay it out on the table, throw it all out there and then only pick up the parts that you want to continue on, so you got to get it out there.
0:12:31 – Speaker 3
You got to get it out there. You do, and I think one of the things about creating your new norms with your new family is why would I want my kids growing up with a miserable Christmas? You know what I mean? Yes, so why wouldn’t? I want to make sure that there are new norms in place so that they do enjoy it and then have positive memories from it. That would be just so crazy for me to want to set a bad example for them or to be oh Dad’s grumpy during the happiest time of year. Then I guess I have to be grumpy when I’m older too, and so, no, i don’t want them to know me as somebody who really struggles with Christmas, and one of the things that I think that we’ve done is made some new norms And we’ve really focused on, you know, kind of limiting some of the excess, but really been a focus on giving, especially this year, and we’ve seen some really really great changes in our kiddos and the way that we celebrate Christmas.
0:13:22 – Speaker 2
I think that’s one of the best things As you’re number two, creating new norms that you both feel good about and talking about it is that you get to kind of take what it is that you came from and then polish it up and make it even better. So that’s a great point. We’ve really incorporated a lot more giving of our time and of our resources into Christmas traditions And we’ve done a lot of great well, holidays And even in the day to day. That’s become a big focus for our family, and so that’s cool. We get to take, you know, the good stuff, reshape it and then make it even better.
And one of those things that I think is special, too, about getting your story out there and then creating new norms is you can include your kids in that conversation. Ask them, you know, share what your past was like and hey, but this is what our future looks like And what do you think about that And do you have any input? So I think that’s a really special part of it. I love hearing what’s on our kids’ hearts and what they want our family to be about.
0:14:19 – Speaker 3
And I think it’s super easy, you know, and to kind of like, i guess, maybe make a final point here is let’s really not forget what Christmas is all about.
Right, and it’s so easy to kind of get wrapped up in the giving and the receiving of presents, but, man, this is really something so far greater than that. You know it really. we have to remember that this is truly a celebration of when our Savior came into our world. And, yes, being generous and giving is very, very important. And, yes, you know traditions and caroling and you know hoping for our snow or a white Christmas all those things are super, super fun. But if we lose sight of the real reason why we’re celebrating this whole thing, man, we’re in a loss. We have kind of I feel like I would be a failure as a father if we didn’t really continually and purposely, intentionally make sure that we are focusing on God and that the birth of Jesus is the most important part of this, of this whole season.
0:15:16 – Speaker 2
Absolutely 100% true for Christmas, but it really makes the point also that if we’re putting God first in everything the things that we are feeling different about or arguing about in our marriage different traditions for different holidays, christmas, whatever it is if we put God first and we’re seeking His wisdom and His truth and His desire for our marriage, for our traditions, for our family, and then the rest is going to follow. You’re going to work through those conversations about your past. You’re going to be able to keep talking about what the new norms are for your family.
0:15:50 – Speaker 3
Interesting how that all happens, doesn’t it?
0:15:52 – Speaker 2
When we put God first right.
0:15:53 – Speaker 3
It’s all like like oh, how come we haven’t been doing this all along? Oh yeah, that’s kind of like the major theme of the entire Bible. It’s funny how we forget about those things, right, i’m telling you. Yeah, i wonder why we’re out of whack. I wonder why my wife and I are on different pages. I wonder why I don’t enjoy certain things, or why are we not having a good time? Oh, are we putting God first? No, oh. Okay, there we go, yeah.
0:16:17 – Speaker 2
He is the answer. Right, he is the answer. Yeah. So just to summarize for today, your past shapes much of who you are. You have to share it, create new norms you both feel good about, and then keep talking. Things are going to change. You’ve got to keep the conversation going. And number three focus on God first. The rest will follow. We hope you have a great Christmas, charles, thanks for being on the show.
0:16:39 – Speaker 3
Hey, love being here. Thanks for having me again.
Transcribed by https://podium.page