My fiance and I are from different cultural/religious background. He’s Jewish, and the closest thing I have to a set religious upbringing is Catholicism. What we both have in common is a tendency towards atheism and skepticism.
My fiance now knows what to expect when he comes over to my family’s house for Christmas and Easter, and I know what will happen at his family’s house for Hanukkah and Passover. But those are at our parents’ houses. Since we’re still saving up to be able to move in together, we haven’t really celebrated any joint holidays.
We had a number of discussions about various holidays, but there was one issue that we never could get resolved: Christmas.
Each of us left conversations about Christmas in our future house with our hypothetical children feeling edgy and unsatisfied. My fiance would NOT celebrate Christmas in our house. No Santa, no wreaths, no reindeer, and most definitely NO TREE. My fiance is an easy-going guy, but on these things he was unable to compromise, and I felt scolded for wanting to re-live some good childhood memories.
Then, one night as we lay in bed, we finally found out what the problem was. We were thinking of Christmas in terms of what it meant to only to each of us, without considering the other person.
To my Jewish fiance, Christmas is a time of seclusion, segregation, and the feeling that everyone else is judging you for what you believe. My fiance felt his Jewish heritage threatened by the Ghost of Christmases Future. Unraveling this web of complicated images, feelings, and associations is very difficult.
To me, Christmas was a time to share our hearts and our homes with the people we care about. Friends, family, and all the other people in our lives can come together to celebrate the passing of winter, the promise of spring, and the warmth of good company. And food. Lots of food. Turns out my fiance has no problem with any of these things.
The trick when dealing with any emotionally-charged issue is to be honest with each other (and yourself) about what this REALLY means to you. Communication and understanding go a long way toward overcoming relationship obstacles.
Oh, the holidays: so many miscommunications and arguments. Let’s all give each other a special gift in the comments: share YOUR methods for compassionately overcoming holiday disagreements.