When you were a child, did you have colored lights or white lights on your Christmas tree? (I bet you know the answer without having to think.)
Did your partner have the same kind?
If both your families of origin decorated the tree in more or less the same way, you’re lucky. You didn’t have to negotiate endlessly about which kind were “right.” For other couples, differences in holiday traditions are a challenge.
Holidays evoke deep early memories for most of us. Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays can be a magical time of year for a young child, and we want to recapture that feeling in our adult homes. We recapture it by repeating family traditions. Whatever each person grew up with tends to just “feel right.”
Figuring out how to decorate for and celebrate the holidays is a major task for a new couple and can be a challenge even for established couples. You have to figure out ways to compromise so it still “feels like Christmas” even though it’s not exactly the same as when you were growing up. Keep some elements of each partner’s traditions, and make up at least one new tradition of your own.
When you talk about this, bear in mind that your partner’s traditions are likely as dear to his/her heart as yours are to you. Listen with curiosity and an open heart about what his/her family did—and especially about which parts seem most emotionally important. If something really seems to matter, whether or not it makes sense to you, find a way to incorporate it. Maybe that tradition is hokey; maybe that decoration is tacky; maybe that cookie doesn’t taste as good as the ones you like. None of that is as important as the fact that’s it’s meaningful to the one you love.