Being Selfish at Chrismastime

MacDonald tree 2013

You know the saying, “The only thing that is constant is change”? Nothing is more true. We grow, we adapt, we change.

Except for one thing; Christmas!

No matter how much change you went through during the year, no matter how old you get, Christmas is always waiting for you in December with the same traditions to comfort your soul and to make you feel like a kid again.

That is until you get married.

Yes. I’m giving you permission to judge. I’m even calling myself out. I’m being a big selfish baby.

If you’ve been around these parts for the past month, you know how much I love Christmas. We also all know that marriage is all about compromise.ย Ryan loves Christmas almost as much as I do, so this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

But no matter what anyone else will ever tell me, my family’s Christmas day and traditions are the very best ones out there. None will ever compare. I don’t care if you tell me your family brings in real reindeer and offers magical reindeer rides. Or that you have 7 Christmas trees in your house, or that you fly to a gorgeous chalet in the Alps and celebrate like royalty, or that at your house you can eat as much of your favorite holiday food as you want and actually lose weight, or that Santa is actually your dad and you go to his workshop in the North Pole every Christmas eve and help. Nope, not going to change a thing.


My family Christmas is still better because it is ours. It is my family, the loves of my lives. It is the only Christmas that I have known. It has defined what this holiday season so all about for me. But that is changing.

Okay, before you start judging me even more and thinking I’m a total selfish B, please know that we are splitting Christmas and I’m very much looking forward to sharing Christmas with Ryan. I’m looking forward to celebrating with his family for the first time and to trying something new. It’s just HARD.

To you, my Christmas may sound pretty ordinary. My brother and his wife – who I see about 3 times a year, if I’m lucky, travel up to PA this weekend. On Christmas Eve, my family always goes out to our favorite local pub for a fun dinner followed by a night of games, drinks and music. We still wake up early on Christmas morning, eat some baked oatmeal and attack our stockings like we are 5 year olds. We then slowly open our gifts in front of the tree. One gift at a time, taking time to oohh and ahhh over each thoughtful gift. By 11:30 it’s time to head to the kitchen and do the final preparations for our mid day dinner for about 14 guests. We pour the wine and Amaretto and try to stay calm. It’s that fun kind of stressful though, right mom?! After the dinner, same menu for the past 30 years, we gather around the piano with drinks for some happy Christmas sing a longs. The night ends with us having some leftovers, eating too many cookies, and enjoying some laughs over drinks and toasting with Buttery Nipples. The day is special because it is ours. Because it is tradition. Because it stays the same.

This year, we are moving our mid day dinner earlier in the day so that Ryan and I can promptly leave and head down to his family’s Christmas celebration 1.5 hours away. I’m excited to see his own family traditions and celebrate with my new family. I’m sad to miss out on the singing (my favorite) and the relaxing evening and simply being together with everyone. Give and take, isn’t that right? Tis’ the season?

Why am I being so selfish? Because I’m proud of my traditions because they define me so much. Because it is stressful to have to pick and choose. It’s stressful because someone will always be hurt – be left out. Simply put, I don’t like too much change. Christmas is about family, and we have two now, mine and his.

But, really there are three. Because, what about our new family. The family that is just Ryan and I?

ryan and katie tradition

We need to start our own holiday traditions. My goal this week is to be sure to carve out some time to celebrate Christmas in our own way. To remember we are our own family. We hold the power to combine both of our traditions and make something totally unique to us. The definition of our holidays is written by Ryan and I, and I can’t wait to discover what that is. I’m sure it will be simply magical, considering how completely crazy we both are over the spirit of Christmas.

Bonnie and Maggie, Christmas puppies

Oh and don’t forget about the Christmas spirit of the dogs too!

How do you handle sharing Christmas?

ย  xoxo katie


  • oh my gosh i know exactly what you mean! we are trying to make our own traditions as well, but luckily have amazing parents who are flexible and makes things work for us for both families. i think it’s an ongoing battle my friend.

    • kwalshmac

      That’s good that you can be flexible – ours aren’t too bad, but both fighting to get “us” and feelings get hurt when things don’t go perfectly their way. I hope it gets easier – or else we’ll just have to have kids so everyone comes to OUR house ๐Ÿ™‚ You should write about some of your new traditions you’re making!

  • Kelley Moyer

    This is my first Christmas as a married woman. My husband’s family is 8 hours away, and mine is only two hours away. Our first Christmas when we first started dating, he went to his family and I went to mine then I flew to his family’s for New Year’s. I think every Christmas after that (when things were more serious), we spent Christmas with my family. This year, going to see his family is out of the question (is it bad that I’m not sorry about that?)…but I was having a hard time figuring out how to celebrate our first Christmas in our own home, and decided that we will have a stay at home date night Christmas eve with several craft beers to try, finger foods, and Christmas movies then get up Christmas morning, do our thing here, then travel to my parents around lunch time and do our thing there and stay for a few days. I think one of the hardest things about being married, especially in the beginning, is figuring out how to split your time with both sides of the family while also having time for yourselves. I’m excited about hopefully starting our own traditions this year! Merry Christmas!

    • kwalshmac

      It’s so hard!! When we were dating, we just both went our separate ways – but I couldn’t imagine not spending Christmas day with him now. That’s awesome that you found some time for just you and your husband – sounds like the perfect cozy Christmas eve!! Merry Christmas friend!

  • Pat (Mom)

    I’m so glad you love our family traditions. Please know that most of those traditions changed and evolved through our 40 years of marriage. You and Ryan will create your own Christmas fun and your family traditions will come. Love you!

  • Maybe it’s just because I’m in a difficult place right now with several of my own family members, but I’m actually really looking forward to starting our own Christmas traditions for our family — just me and Adam. Since Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year, we our closest family is three hours away, we’ll be spending the actual day alone and I couldn’t be more excited. We’re visiting my family this weekend and his family the weekend after — but you know, Christmas itself — I feel like that is for us now. In a few years, we will have our own house and our own kid and that day becomes about making it special for that child. And for us at least, running all over three states to visit various family members wouldn’t be very special for that kid…

    I think this time of year is different for everyone, but as long as you and Ryan are on the same page, you’ll be just fine! I love this post by the way! Great job!


    • kwalshmac

      Thanks! That’s so great that you and Adam will have some quality time together on Christmas day. Sounds perfect and relaxing. I’m excited to start creating traditions with Ryan as well – and seriously can’t add a kid to the mix. Christmas just doesn’t feel as magical with out any kids around. Luckily we only live 10 minutes away from my parents and 1.5 hours away from his. We both have small families so it is low key.

  • Oh girl, I hear you. Splitting up the holidays is probably one of the hardest things about being married. I’ve gotten my way the last two years and been with my family in NC, and we haven’t seen his family in Texas AT ALL around the holidays. I sadly don’t see this lasting forever… But it is fun to have some traditions that are just ours– not related to either of our families. I’m sure you guys will figure it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kwalshmac

      Yes it’s stressful! Yay for you that you got your way these past couple years ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks and I’m sure things will just make there way happen – either way it’s fun! Just happy to have the time together! Merry Christmas!

  • eHa

    Holidays are so hard. My family is almost 1,000 miles away and we live in the same town as his. We alternate holidays. This year we spent Thanksgiving with my family and we will spend Christmas with his family here. I had been going to visit my family by myself sometime in January before my little sisters went back to college. But we’ll probably have to change up the arrangement once we have children since they make travel more complicated.

    • kwalshmac

      Yes, it sure adds that extra level of stress! Alternating holidays is a good idea! But Christmas will always be the prime, “we want you here!” holiday! Kids will be a game changer! Merry Christmas!