Let’s be honest, the most wonderful time of the year can sometimes not feel so wonderful. There are presents to buy, holiday office parties to attend, baking, decorating, school choir concerts, travel plans and in-laws … the list can go on and on. If I am not careful, it is easy for me to slip into what some experts have cleverly named … the Clark Griswold Syndrome: The feeling that you must be the merriest person on the block so that your family can have a spectacular Christmas (and in our case, Hanukkah, too). There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to create magical moments, but when they come at the expense of the very same people you are trying to create them for … that is a problem.
Spending countless hours planning and hoping that a holiday event or a date with my husband will be as special as one of those cheesy Christmas Hallmark movies can quickly turn into me feeling that I can never be happy unless it is perfect, which can then lead to sadness and disappointment when reality doesn’t live up. But not carving out special time can often result in even more hurt feelings, which along with the general high stress of the holiday season can easily result in spousal arguments. Which is why we as a couple over the years have learned to ditch our expectations and appreciate the little moments that we can squeeze in together during this busy time of year.
Date nights from November until after the New Year often look very different for us. With so many commitments and family obligations, an entire night out can feel more like a chore than a privilege. Even if time was available, we are often just too tired or just plain done being around other people to enjoy that. This is where realistic expectations and a bit of creativity come into play. For us, that means fun, quick and inexpensive times that allow us to escape the craziness, reconnect, relax, and enjoy being in the moment with one another. Here are a few of our favorite holiday season quick date night-ins.
- NETFLIX AND CHILL – (No, not what you are thinking; although if things go that way, good for you!) On the occasional cool Florida evening, there is nothing better than sitting in our backyard by a nice fire, mugs filled with coffee, sharing a blanket, and watching an episode of a show we enjoy together on our laptop. We could easily watch from the comfort of our warm, cozy living room couch. But being outside takes a bit more effort and usually ends up with us both sitting closer together, not falling asleep, and just truly enjoying each other’s company.
- TAKE A LONG WALK – and then stop to enjoy the view together! Sure, we walk the dogs often together, but it is often because we feel like we “HAVE TO” do it. But what if you changed that to … I “GET TO” TAKE A WALK WITH MY PARTNER. That simple change in attitude can make a huge difference and often leads to a wonderful simple date.
- SPEED DATE EACH OTHER – Yes, you read correctly … speed date your partner! Remember the fun and excitement you had when you first met and were taking time to get to know one another? Remember how you really listened to each other? What would happen if you tried to recreate that time? Set a timer and just sit down face to face and ask each other a few questions. I had no idea that my hubby’s dream vacation is Tahiti. How can we have been together so long and I didn’t know that? If you are at a loss of what to ask each other or how it works, here is an adorable website that offers FREE printable versions and even name tags to make it fun: https://www.thedatingdivas.com/spouse-speed-dating/.
- PLAY A BOARD GAME TOGETHER – A study performed by Baylor University found that playing board games together for just half an hour releases oxytocin – also known as the “love hormone.” Need I say more?
- CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS AND MEMORIES – Okay, this one may be a bit cheesy Christmas Hallmark movie-ish, but turn off all the lights except the ones on the tree or the menorah and sit together with your partner, and for a few minutes, just admire it. If there are ornaments with special memories, share the stories together. Basically, for a few minutes just appreciate each other, YOUR STORY TOGETHER, and share dreams for your future.