Making Merry: Establishing Traditions

Making Merry is our first guest series. Every Friday of Advent we'll hear from a lady about how she and her family make the Christmas season merry. Sara and her husband, Dave are some of our best couple friends. They have moved quite a bit, but they have some wonderful traditions they keep every year — even while they were in England last year!

 

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Since my husband (Dave) and I have been married, we have spent the holidays living in 2 different countries and 3 different states.  So, it has been rather hard to nail down traditions of our own.  However, I have managed to come up with some traditions that are very near and dear to us.


#1 Cutting down a Christmas tree

During our first Christmas living in Michigan (2014), Dave and I decided to throw out our fake white Christmas tree and adopt a new Papendorf family tradition—cutting down a Christmas tree.  There is something so satisfying about traveling to the nearest Christmas tree farm and spending time searching for the perfect tree.  Our first experience was quite a success, and I would say that we found the perfect tree for our little family.  Our kitty (Namuco) surely liked it enough!  

  Can you spot the kitty?

  Can you spot the kitty?


#2 Taking pictures for our Christmas cards

One of my favorite Christmas traditions that we have consistently kept up with is sending out a yearly Christmas card.  Over the 7 Christmases we have spent together, we have accumulated a nice collection of cards.  As you can see, we like to fill our cards with humorous and festive pictures.  However, this year, we opted for a simpler and more elegant design.    

Six out of seven of our Christmas cards from over the years.  Of course, I can’t find my very favorite!

Six out of seven of our Christmas cards from over the years.  Of course, I can’t find my very favorite!


#3 Decorating

As Dave would say, I am "obsessed with decorating,” and what better time to decorate than Christmas, right?  When Dave and I were first married, I didn’t have a defined style of decorating.  However, over the years, I have come to adopt a style that’s completely my own--a style that I absolutely love!  Here is a little taste for you of my decorating style……


#4 Traveling to Illinois to spend the actual holidays with our family

The most important part of the Christmas season for us is the time we get to spend with our families.  Thankfully, my family and Dave’s family live only about 30 miles apart, and they get along with each other, which is such a blessing.  Each year, we fill our car with Christmas presents, suitcases, and our kitty and head to Joliet/Lombard, IL.  When we arrive, we typically spend a few days doing some last min. Christmas shopping.  We spend Christmas Eve at Dave’s parents and then wake up early the next morning to travel to my parent’s house.  We have the routine down pat.  Dave and I couldn’t be more thankful for the families that the Lord has blessed us with.  We are truly grateful!        


#5 The “untraditionalness” of our traditions

As I mentioned before, Dave and I have spent Christmas in many difference places, so it’s been quite difficult to establish consistent family traditions.  In 2014, Dave began his long journey of pursuing a PhD in history……and when I say long, I mean 6 years long.  And, while I would love to be settled in a house living in the area we will live for the rest of our lives, I can’t complain about all the wonderful things Dave’s schooling has allowed us to experience……like living in England. 

Last year, we spent Christmas just over the pond in Newcastle, England.  Living there allowed us to experience Christmas with a British twist.  From mince pies and mulled wine to Christmas morning at Christ Church Newcastle, a piece of our hearts will forever remain in that wonderful city.  We will never forget Christmas 2015.    

The most special part about Christmas 2015 was that my parents came to visit.  They arrived about 3 days before Christmas, so there was not much time for Christmas festivities.  We got right down to business.  The morning after they arrived, we woke up bright and early to catch a train to York.  We spent the day wondering around the quaintest little English town.  On Christmas Eve, we ate at the Botanist—a restaurant in Newcastle and one of the prettiest restaurants I have ever seen.  Christmas Day was quiet but so special.  We opened presents, went to an early afternoon church service, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.  It was a great day.

Newcastle City Centre 

Newcastle City Centre 

The interior of York Castle

The interior of York Castle

Christmas Eve 2015 at the Botanist in Newcastle

Christmas Eve 2015 at the Botanist in Newcastle

Christmas Day 2015 at our flat in Newcastle

Christmas Day 2015 at our flat in Newcastle

The day after Christmas, we packed up the car and headed to London.  Let me tell you what an experience it is to drive on the opposite side of the road.  It is so strange.  Thankfully, Dave is an excellent driver and maneuvered the car without any problems.  Early the next morning, we hopped on a plane headed to Rome…..Yes, that’s right, Rome.  It sounds so surreal thinking about it now.  My parents, Dave, and I had the once-in-a-life-time opportunity of spending nearly 6 days in Rome.  It was a magical experience, and one that I know will be tough to forget.       

Rome just a few days after Christmas still decorated for the holidays. You can’t beat the view of a Christmas tree in front of the Colosseum! Absolutely breathtaking!

Rome just a few days after Christmas still decorated for the holidays. You can’t beat the view of a Christmas tree in front of the Colosseum! Absolutely breathtaking!

The quaintest little restaurant in Rome where we had dinner.  Loved the decorations!!!

The quaintest little restaurant in Rome where we had dinner.  Loved the decorations!!!

So, while Dave and I don't live in a house, aren’t settled, and have moved around quite a bit during our marriage, we have established some wonderful Christmas traditions and have had some amazing experiences—traditions and experiences that will remain a part of our family for years to come. 

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