my first christmas as a wife and stepmom

Christmas this year was a different experience for me than years past. As a new wife and stepmom, my perspective changed as I planned Christmas for my own family instead of merely being a participant as a daughter and sibling. I definitely garnered a new appreciation for my mom and all the Christmas seasons she's made special for my siblings and I over the past 30 years.

It felt like I blinked and the holiday season was suddenly upon us. I guess that's what happens when you get married in November. It was fun decorating my own home for Christmas and combining Dale's decor with mine (I admittedly have too much Christmas stuff that I still need to downsize).  Decorating our new home together for the first time, I also made some compromises for the sake of simplicity and budget.

For instance, we only put plastic balls on our tree so we could avoid any ornament casualties thanks to our five-month-old puppy. I would have loved to buy a new artificial Christmas tree or even put up a real tree, but it made more sense to save money this year and use the tree Dale already had. We also opted to not put outdoor lights up this year and instead hit the after Christmas clearance at Target and bought some for 50% off that we can use next year.

Even though I was skeptical at first, I found that making these small sacrifices didn't detract from having an enjoyable holiday. Dale and I watched almost every one of our favorite Christmas movies, drank copious amounts of eggnog and hot cocoa. We also started two new Albuquerque traditions: 1) Viewing Miracle on 34th Street at the historic downtown KiMo Theatre and 2) Strolling through the River of Lights at the ABQ BioPark. I also finally made the felt number squares for my advent calendar, something I've been meaning to do for about five years.

At the end of the day, there just isn't enough time or energy to do every single holiday activity or decor option out there. You have to pick and choose and remember that it's really about spending quality time with the ones you love. Everything else is a bonus.

Speaking of being with the ones you love for the holidays, this year was our year for Christmas with the boys. On Christmas Eve day we packed up the stocking and gifts in my Honda sleigh and traveled the three hours to Farmington. Christmas morning we headed over to be with the boys.

Aiden and Brenna were so cute opening presents. After each present Aiden would say, "More?" and reach for a new box to open and Brennan's look of wonder each time he opened a present was priceless. They honestly loved every single present they got, both from us and all of our generous family members. We spent the day playing with all of their new toys, reading stories, and watching movies. It was wonderful to have the chance to spend time together as a family on Christmas Day. Dale and I traveled back to Albuquerque that night and opened our presents together.

Christmas 2016 as a new wife and stepmom was absolutely wonderful. While I certainly missed spending the holidays with my parents and siblings, it was special to experience Christmas with the little family that Dale and I have created together and make new traditions as husband and wife. I'm sad I didn't get Christmas cards out this year but there's always next year. Cheers to many more wonderful holiday seasons!

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