celebrating holidays without children

i used to scroll through instagram or facebook before a big holiday & feel that strong wave of disappointment & discontent overcome me. our home would begin to feel empty, our traditions purposeless & our family lacking. 

if only we had children, our holidays would be more fun/meaningful/perfect/complete.

friends, life doesn't end or begin when we have children. 

luke & i now celebrate in big ways every holiday.

the easter bunny visits us, we make fancy breakfasts on valentine's day & santa stuffs our stockings with chocolate. we create meaningful traditions as a family of two that we hope to share with our family of three or four. 

because oftentimes the holidays we celebrate are not about the stuff or traditions, but about the people with whom we celebrate. & here's the thing - my husband is worth celebrating. 

let's not wait until we have kiddos to decorate a christmas tree or prepare a big thanksgiving feast! cozy up with your love or invite your friends over & celebrate the season you're in right now.

today i'd love to share with you some ideas that might inspire you to celebrate the holidays with or without children!

1. define what's important to you. 
when luke & i first married, we had different views of what's important during the holidays. i'm a gift person & luke values quality time. we slowly began carving out traditions for our own family that value both aspects of who we are. i now take time to make a homemade birthday cake for luke & he surprises me with store-bought flowers. 

2. continue the traditions of your childhood.
one of my favorite traditions of my childhood was waking up to stockings filled with little things. although we still celebrate christmas at my parents' home, santa still remembers to stop by our own home & stuff those stockings for when we arrive home from our holiday travels. opening gifts & stockings with luke is cherished & an evening i look forward to each year. 

3. create new traditions.
we have started a handful of traditions unique to our own family that we hope to one day share with our children. we create a month of meaningful activities during the month of december in an effort to savor each day & serve those around us. here's a bit more about our diy advent calendar

brainstorm with your partner fun traditions you could start with your family right now! it could be as simple as an easter sunday nap (i think we might have started that tradition this year & it's definitely a keeper!).

4. decorate!
we purchase or make decorations for our home during the holidays. we have a large box of ornaments we place on the tree each year & a handmade birthday banner we hang on that person's special day. we always write holiday sentiments on our dining room chalkboard & adorn the table with a fresh bouquet of flowers. it's always exciting to prepare our home & hearts for the holidays!

how do you celebrate the holidays with or without children? please share!


Sarah Esh said...

I love this, Natalie.

Traditions never seemed important to me until I got married and soon after had our first baby. But now that I am a mom I do want to put special emphasis on holidays and birthdays because I want to children to celebrate and be celebrated. My son is almost 1.5, so I am still learning what our traditions will look like, but it is so much fun to think and dream about it.

Be blessed.


What a wonderful post - and a wake up call. I'm on the opposite of married life, my children being grown and long gone from home. And I'm living a good distance from them now. I haven't decorated for holidays in years, but I know it would bring my husband joy if I did. And maybe me, too! So I will! Thank you so much for showing this perspective!

Natalie @ Being Mrs. Olson said...

This is an awesome post. We've been married almost three years and are still working on figuring out our traditions. Mike's mom passed away after we got married and she always used to bake him a fancy birthday cake since he was little. His birthday is on Christmas so it's sometimes hard to make it extra special. Maybe I'll have to up my cake-making game! Today is my birthday, actually, and hubby is making dinner. I can't wait to get home and celebrate!

Christina Schergen said...

Such a great post! Your home is dreamy!!!

Anna Lintern said...

This is just what I needed to read. I had the same thing and even vocalized it to my husband on Easter. I had asked him if we are enough or doing enough. We will be married for 5 years this May and don't have children yet (we moved a lot and only just bought a house this year, just haven't found the right time yet) and I saw all over Instagram and Facebook friends' Easter celebrations with their children/family. My husband and I live states away from family and we did go to sunrise service on Easter and I felt lacking that day. On a day where we should not feel like that. After reading your post, I am excited for the next holiday because I am ready to celebrate just my husband and I. It may not be a big family yet but we are still worth doing something. Thank you for this!

Michaela said...

My husband grew up in a not-so-traditional household with hippy parents. Needless to say, he never had many holiday traditions & was never taught to value them. He doesn't like the mandate of tradition - the HAVING to do something just because it was/is tradition. We've started just doing simple things that bring joy. On birthdays we have been letting the other choose what to do & we celebrate together all day (this has looked like hiking, zoo trips, etc). For Christmas I decorate the house and we cut a tree - the usual, but it is so special together. We're finding a balance between being able to celebrate the season and one another without the added pressure of HAVING to do something just for the sake of tradition.

elizabeth Langgle: said...

Love this. I've been talking to my sweet husband about intentionally including traditions even as a married couple without children. We've started cutting down our own Christmas tree and each season I make a new wreath for our front door. Every single valentines day we make heart shaped meatloaf like my momma did. Little things but important ones.

It is so easy for me to constantly live in the "next season" of life and to forget the value of the things that are unique to this season.

Thanks for the reminder. I look forward to your posts and enjoy sharing in some of your everyday moments.

Rebekah said...

You are so right! It's a challenge bringing two life-times worth of (sometimes conflicting) traditions together in a marriage, but it's worth doing. I was touched by your statement -- "my husband is worth celebrating." There have been times when, sadly, I have failed to make a point of celebrating my husband on special days, but I have seen how those oversights hurt him and am trying to be more intentional about doing something special not just for our daughters, but for him, too. It matters. Thanks for the reminder! :)

Jenny said...

I love this post! 'My husband is worth celebrating'..such a great perspective & we should say that about whoever is in our lives.

I'm looking at this from a different perspective as you as well. My only child is grown & newly married so we are learning how to celebrate holidays without children again. Actually, we do still celebrate, we just celebrate on our own time - rarely on THE day.

Thanks for reminding us that we always have something to celebrate & we choose how content we are in our celebrations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. My husband and I have decided not to have children, and I am often frustrated by the perception that holidays must revolve around kids. Life is about celebrating where you are, right now, and loving those around you.

Beth @ Full On Joy said...

Natalie, thank you so much for being so open and honest! I love how you truly show how much you and Luke cherish each other, it is so beautiful to see and read.

I got married 8 months ago and we are just learning how to combine our own respective family traditions into one kick butt collection! Life's such a journey :)

Lots of love, B. xox

Gen Smith said...

Natalie, what a beautiful post! I so wish I had came to this conclusion earlier in our marriage! We struggled through 22+ years of infertility before we were blessed with a miracle baby boy in our early 40s. I wish I could say that we had always celebrated as if we were cause enough to do so, but we had a few tough years that were hard to watch while others did so with the children we longer to have and couldn't. By the grace of God several years before our son was born we finally a place of peace with being a family of 2. We decided we needed to celebrate our lives and love and enjoy our full life that hadn't included the size of family we thought we would have. We found ways of making each holiday special for each other and either took a get away on Mother's and Father's Days or reached out to others. It took awhile but I'm grateful we shifted our thought process before we had Samuel. We have traditions that incorporate the best of our childhoods with things that reflect who we are and now each year we expand on or minimize them to work with where we are as a family (age appropriate for our son, etc) Time and holidays are precious gifts that can either make memories we'll enjoy for eternity or slip by wasted as we wait for our "perfect" family life to begin. I love that you and your hubby get that and are enjoying living in the moment, you are a complete family now and in God's perfect timing for you your family will only grow in size and love!

Allison said...

Thank you so much for this post, Natalie! My husband and I married in November (just in time for the big holidays), and though we decorated a tree, we have missed a few opportunities to begin some personal just-us-two traditions during the other holidays. I look forward to using this post as inspiration for when they come around again! I love how you wrote it...my husband (and our marriage) IS worth celebrating!!

I've loved visiting your blog! Stay well!


Erin said...

I have a bit of a different perspective... I'm an American and grew up with lots of presents under the tree (not all expensive, some things like socks, a tea mug, etc.) but more than plenty.
My husband grew up in rural Mexico with a dirt floor and no presents.

Needless to say, we've struggled with what our Christmas/Easter should look like with our children.

And with my oldest being 15 and a new baby coming in July and three other children in between, I'd do it all differently if I could.

The expectations have been set and it's not easy to change the precedent.

I wish that we'd kept it simple from the beginning, with only (literally) a few gifts for each child, something simple, functional, and beautiful. I wish we'd focused more on family time or food or community, less on wish lists, Santa pictures, presents (both giving and receiving.) The pressure of having to give gifts is not something I would have wanted to pass down to my children. or should I say, the gifts that are up to American standards.

If I could go back before children, these would be some changes I'd make.

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