Last year, I garnered a decent amount of attention from my Facebook friends and Instagram followers for the way in which I celebrated the holidays. I began purposefully planning out meals and treats to coordinate with the holiday movie we watched. There was Frankenstein pudding for Hotel Transylvania, Santa waffles for Arthur Christmas, candy cane-shaped pizza for White Christmas, and reindeer corndogs for Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer just to name a few.
It started as a cheesy, dorky way to incorporate a little more holiday cheer into our newlywed lifestyle, but I didn’t ever disclose the WHY.
The first year we were married was awesome and everything was shiny, exciting, and new. Our first Halloween as a married couple! Our first time decorating a tree as a married couple! Our first Christmas as a married couple! Rinse and repeat for all major holidays/holiday traditions.
We didn’t do very much because the excitement was kind of ‘built-in’: it was our first time doing these things together and that was fun enough.
Then our first anniversary rolled around during the summer and we came upon on our second holiday season (and by ‘holiday season’, I mean everything from Halloween-December because to me it’s one big festive blur) as a married couple.
We’d already done all those holiday things together. I wasn’t bored of them, by any means, but it wasn’t…as exciting.
Those pre-teen/tweenager years are awkward for a HOST of reasons, but (at least for me) I was a little too old for the magic of the holidays, but not quite so grown-up to go out with friends to parties and do more of the ‘grown-up holiday’ thing. It was this weird in-between funk that just kind of left the holidays as awkward and depressing. I had seemingly outgrown one holiday style, but hadn’t quite grown into the other.
And mid-September last year, I found myself kind of feeling those same kind of feelings.
We had kind of already done the newlywed holiday thing. But we didn’t have kids to plan holiday things for and see the holiday fun through their eyes.
So… now what?
I don’t even remember how it started, but somehow pairing food and movies together became my answer to that question and I ran with it. I Pinterested my heart out to find recipes, I researched a ton of different Halloween movies (some of which I had seen, some of which I hadn’t), and it took on a life of it’s own. As soon as the Halloween season drew to an end, I started planning for Christmas.
Movies and food became our thing. Dean was going to school full-time and oftentimes the movie would be playing in the background while he worked on homework. It worked for our schedule and it just WORKED for us.
It was something that I could see us adapting and continuing once our family grew and expanded, and it just felt good to kind of take ownership of this “newlywed, but not totally because it’s already been a year, but also no kids yet” kind of lifestyle.
And I found a LOT of joy in it. It made me feel good about me. Meal planning and cooking for my husband… I can’t really boast that those are my strong suits. This was a built-in way to improve on that. Maybe it was just the fact that deep-down I’m still 5 years old so watching Casper while eating ghost brownies tickled my inner child. Maybe it was because I really AM Type-A like my husband claims I am. But… I enjoyed it. It made me happy.
I’ve continued on with it during non-holiday times. In the last month, I’ve made apple dumplings to coordinate with Apple Dumpling Gang and a banana cream cake to coordinate with watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
It’s become my “thing”.
And last month, I had my pregnancy… hope? I don’t know what
to refer to it as, but last month when I was unabashedly confident in the fact that Baby Hunt was a reality in my uterus and a guarantee… I couldn’t help but feel so happy that we had really capitalized and made the most of our time as a childless couple. Married couples with kids always tell us to ‘make the most of our time before kids’ and last month, in the midst of all of that pending joy and anticipation and excitement, I was really proud of the fact that I could confidently say that we did. We’ve had a TON of fun.
Then, obviously, that didn’t happen.
This past Sunday I was feeling overly emotional, for whatever reason, and had a bit of a minor breakdown that caused me to unload a bunch of emotional ramblings on my poor husband.
One topic that came up mid-breakdown was the fact that late Saturday night we had planned to watch BFG with my uncle and, because it was so late notice, I didn’t feel adequately prepared to come up with a treat for the movie and I felt like a failure. I share this not for pity— now with full clarity of mind I think it’s hilarious and gives you an honest insight into the inner workings of my mind. What started as a fun thing has become a bit of an obsession 😉
BUT the main thing that came up during this breakdown was that the looming holidays weren’t bringing me any joy.
(Yes, I say ‘looming’–I’m aware it’s barely August and there’s 2 full months before Halloween. But let’s be real: September is really just pre-Halloween, isn’t it? Again– welcome to the inner workings of my mind. It’s a dangerous place!)
I admitted that one of the underlying reasons that I had gone all-out for the holidays last year was because of that “make the most of your childless years!” mentality. I had imagined/hoped that last holiday season would be the last child-free holiday season and I wanted to suck the marrow out of that holiday life.
Approaching this holiday season, having just come down off of that “IT’S A BABY” high, and facing another childless season… it didn’t feel fun.
I told Dean I wasn’t sure I wanted to go big on holidays this year. It just… it didn’t feel worth it.
There are dozens of moments every day that my husband reaffirms to me that he was the right choice for my eternal partner, but some of them still catch me off-guard and kind of knock the wind out of me. This was one of them.
He got this wry sort of smile on his face and quietly admitted that he was secretly really looking forward to the holidays. Stunned, I asked him what he meant. He said that he never really did much for holidays as a kid and really enjoyed what we did last year–and that he was even looking forward to it because he thought it was so fun! He said he felt obligated to play the role of the begrudging husband who kind of dragged his feet to all of the merriment and festive joy, but that he actually dorkily really enjoyed it.
Let me tell you: THAT’S when I cried. That’s when all the tears came.
It’s been a few days for me to process all of this (mentally and emotionally) and let me tell you that I am now in full pre-holiday prep mode. I sent Dean roughly 2 dozen couples Halloween costumes for him to take his pick at for this year’s church party. I’ve started brainstorming Halloween movies: refining our selection from movies we really didn’t enjoy last year, keeping our favorites, and adding a few new ones to the mix. Today at work I listened to Halloween music on Spotify (let me tell you: the Ghostbusters tune is definitely catchy). It’s August 2 and I have no shame. I’ve even started researching and brainstorming autumn/Halloween-y things to go out and DO rather than just movie-ing our life away (see what I did there?). Going to school in Idaho, straw mazes and haunted houses were plentiful but here in the desert…there’s not a lot of straw.
Last year, we ended up just buying our pumpkins from like Walmart or something because I felt weird being a childless couple going to a pumpkin patch. It felt like something you needed a child with you to validate your presence there.
This year, a pumpkin patch is DEFINITELY on the to-do list.
Last year,the food recipes were 100% Pinterest and contained a TON of sugary sweets.
This year, I want to try my hand at cultivating/adapting some recipes myself. I’d love to be able to find some healthier meals to add a ‘spooky’ twist to rather than just making a million different sugary desserts. I’m not trying to be some crunchy granola hippie but the more I research, the more I strongly suspect PCOS is at play here. And, the more I research PCOS, the more they keep talking about low-carb/no dairy/no sugar eating and the numerous benefits it has for PCOS… But THAT’S a whole other blog post in and of itself.
Last year, at least subconsciously, the idea of being childless kind of guided all my actions.
This year, it’s going to be for me, for Dean, and for us in all of our dorky, cheesy, glory. It’ll be more intentional.