Family Friday #7 – Our First Christmas

February 16, 2024 0 By Mirm

Our first Christmas together was 1979 when Jim stayed with us and asked my dad if he could marry me. That is another story documented somewhere else in this blog. But, Christmas 1980 was our first as husband and wife. There are many things I remember about that specific Christmas but also about our intentionality in setting traditions.

We bought a live tree – a fir tree and put it on a little table in front of the living room window of our little postage stamp of a house. We had some of my childhood ornaments and a few that began our own “collection”. Jim’s sister Laurie gave us a precious moments nativity and added a new piece each tear for several years. We “inherited” some outdoor strings of lights that we added to our porch and fascia board trim.

We decorated while playing Christmas music and eating Orange Milanos and drinking egg nog. We established then that we would give 3 things – something needed, something wanted and something fun. Jim was very detailed about our finances, for which I have always been grateful, but we knew that we each needed some money that was unaccountable to the other person. What that means is that we each had a little bit of money that we did not need to defend, explain, budget or discuss how it was spent. We wanted to be able to surprise each other. And, since this was before Amazon (and the internet), we could go shopping without fear of the other one seeing the order or receipt online. We also set up the idea that we would not buy things like vacuums or toasters; those kinds of things were meant to be budgeted.

Jim was, at that time and forever after, a lover of Christmas and all its trappings. He was the one who made, sent and prayed over every Christmas card. His story of Christmas love is  in part related to the worst day of his life, which is also documented in a different blog post. But this was his favorite holiday which made it better for everyone!

We made plans for how to have time for each other and for each of our families. We knew that over time these things would change but we wanted to start on the same page. I made cookies with new friends and we had Christmas parties we hosted and joined. The days were busy and my memories are filled with treasures.

The biggest hurdle with our first Christmas was work at a church and specifically The Living Christmas Tree. Jim was the director that year. Not only were we both working and in school at Biola, Jim had so many rehearsals and meetings that he was a wreck. Additionally there was a person maligning his character, making slanderous comments. Anyone who knew Jim knows that honesty and integrity are his highest core values so this was very hard to deal with – and it was a colleague who he highly respected so he was very hurt. He nearly had a breakdown.

It all seems like simpler times but at the time it was anything but simple – easy – contained. Life is like that according to the author of Ecclesiastes who reminds us that life must be lived forward although we can only understand it backward.

Merry Christmas!