Your first Christmas as a married couple is always an exciting experience (or so I would assume considering I’ve never experienced one myself). For that reason, I have listed a few of the experiences we’ve had during this holiday season and, to be as cliché as possible, I am calling it the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” This is neither a comprehensive nor a chronological list of our Christmas activities. Please enjoy.
Day 1: Christmas Tree
As a newlywed couple we were extremely excited about the thought of getting our first Christmas tree together. It is one of those moments in a marriage that will be remembered forever. On a late Monday evening, after darkness had fallen, we went to our local Smith’s Marketplace and purchased the perfect tree to start our perfect Christmas season. We shoved it into my mom’s mini-van, pine needles blanketing the entire interior, and drove the 3 blocks back to our house. It was carefully erected in our living room, the rich pine smell quickly permeating the entire apartment. This was Christmas. In all my years as a single guy I dreamed about this moment and how wonderful it would be. My joy was full. With my lovely little wife we picked out our first Christmas tree that would live on eternally in our hearts and in our memories. It died 2 days later…
Day 2: Christmas Tree #2
After the demise or our first Christmas tree we returned again to our local Smith’s Marketplace and traded our dead tree carcass for a shorter, more robust, and more lively tree. It is little but we love it. And the best part, it’s still alive and not shedding needles all over our apartment!
Day 3: Collard Family Christmas Party
Every year it is a tradition to get all of my brothers and sisters and their families together to celebrate Christmas. Because there are so many of us and so many different families competing for time it usually ends up happening way before Christmas. All of my family was there except for my sister-in-law Miranda. My immediate family now totals 37. Needless to say it was a madhouse but it was great to be with family. Everyone was awaiting the inaugural performance of the Rob and Laura Duo but, in spite of our valiant efforts (we tried to practice once) it never quite materialized. Next year.
Day 4: Sending stuff to Korea
Isn’t it amazing that you can hand a box full of stuff to some guy, pay him some money, and a week later that box is halfway around the world at your loved one’s doorstep? Thank you United States Postal Service.
Day 5: Ugly/Nice/No Sweater party
Ugly sweater parties have recently become a popular tradition around Christmas time. Our wonderful friends, the Larson's, invited us to an ugly sweater Christmas party they were throwing. We eagerly went to Deseret Industries to find the most ridiculous sweaters we could find to display them at the party. Laura found a shinny black and silver number that was probably donated by a future contestant of the biggest loser and I found a black and red turtleneck that possibly could have belonged to Leif Garrett. We arrived at the party excited to see everyone elses ugly sweaters but were surprised when the host opened the door and was wearing a normal shirt that wasn’t the least bit ugly. In fact, it was quite handsome. Evidently, Jessie, busy as she was, forgot to mention to her husband that it was in fact an ugly sweater party. The moral of the story is that pregnancy and forgetfulness go hand in hand. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and then exchanged white elephant gifts. Laura walked away with an N’SYNC coloring book and an N’SYNC mix CD. She swears she threw them away but I’m pretty sure she pulls them out when I’m not home. There’s nothing like some “Bye, Bye, Bye” when you’re at home alone after a hard day’s work.
Day 6: Singing in French
In our branch we have had the wonderful fortune of being able to participate with our young man and young women in a French Sunday School class. The new class has been a wonderful blessing for the kids. They are learning a great deal and enjoy being able to talk about the gospel in a native language. The class was asked to perform in the upcoming stake Christmas musical fireside, and so Laura and I were invited to sing with them. The only problem with this is Laura and I don’t speak a lick of French. We practiced a few times but all the practice in the world wouldn’t help me to pronounce words in French. So, I did what I usually do in choirs and sang just loud enough that I’m not mouthing it but not loud enough that anyone besides the guy next to me can hear me.
Day 7: Work Party
To celebrate the holiday season and their success over the past year, Laura’s employer had a lovely little lunch with the employees and their spouses. Somehow, I was able to get an extra hour for lunch in order to attend. It was a lot of fun. I got to meet her co-workers and I was truly impressed with the caliber of people she is surrounded by. Everyone went around and introduced themselves and spoke a few words. I felt really badly because I had to sneak out early in order to return to work and I didn’t even get to eat my mystery dessert. Such is life.
Day 8: Tweens go nuts for David Archuleta
This year the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert featured young local artist David Archuleta. For those of you who didn’t know, David Archuleta was the runner up of a previous American Idol competition and is now the object of 99.9% of teenage girl’s affection. He is quite talented, I must admit. My mom gave us tickets to the Sunday Morning performance so we went with my brother Mikey and his girlfriend Nikki. He won’t admit it but I’m pretty sure that deep down my brother is a huge Archuleta fan. Anyway, it was a wonderful performance and the choir and Archuleta sounded great. I was, however, blown away by the number of teenage girls at the concert. I’ve been to a few of these Christmas concerts in the past but there never seemed to be so many giggles and high pitched screams. It reminded me of the year we snuck into a new year party down at UVU because we thought it was going to be a college party. Little did we know, Archie was performing and the place was crawling with brace faces and parents escorting groups of irrational teenagers. That night was such a letdown…but the Christmas concert was great in spite of the 20,000 tweens and the 37 standing ovations. Seriously, if you give a standing ovation for everything it tends to lose its meaning.
Day 9: Dinner with the Mecham’s
Every Sunday the Mecham’s are gracious enough to have Laura and me over for dinner. Last Sunday we returned the favor and had them over to our place for dinner. It was quite the challenge trying to arrange tables and chairs around our Christmas tree in our tiny little apartment but somehow we got it to work. I think I was able to accomplish such a feat because I spent innumerable hours of my youth playing Tetris and Dr. Mario on Nintendo. We all were able to fit around the table and we all enjoyed Laura’s delicious lasagna together.
Day 10: Lights at Temple Square
There is something magical about temple square during Christmas time. Is it the beautiful lights? Is it the missionaries talking to hundreds of inquisitive visitors? Is it the beautiful nativities? Is it the Christmas spirit of all those that come worship and share their time together? I don’t know. I was too busy trying to dodge the crowds of little kids to really figure it out. On Monday we went with Laura’s family and the Arrington’s to temple square to see the lights. It’s a tradition of their families and this year was my first year participating. I had a wonderful time even though the crowds were pretty crazy. But I truly was surprised at how many people were there. Fortunately, Steve Mecham is a pro at weaving through crowds and led us through the insanity. Some, at times, had trouble keeping up but in the end we all made it through successfully and afterward enjoyed a nice meal at Zupa’s until we were kicked out 45 minutes after closing. Sorry Zupa’s staff, but thanks for your patience!
Day 11: Christmas Eve with the Mechams
Our first Christmas Eve was spent at the Mecham home. We enjoyed a delicious meal with ham, potatoes, warm rolls fresh from the oven, and of course, fluff stuff with gookem-pucky on the side. That’s not really what they were called but those were the more popular names used that night… The group gathered around in the living room and listened intently to the best abridged version of Luke 2 I have ever heard. We opened a few presents with Laura’s family while I ate approximately seven freshly baked cookies. It was a beautiful night that made a person grateful for family. While I’m sort of an adopted member of the family, I still felt right at home. We closed the night out attending a midnight church service at a local Presbyterian church.
Day 12: First Christmas with Laura
Laura and I have been married now for over 4 months. Last year at this time I had never imagined I would be in the situation I am today, but life is full of unexpected surprises. Some bring trial and tragedy. Some bring indescribable blessings that leave you wondering what you ever did to deserve it. Laura is that for me. I have never been so happy in my life. The last four months have gone by so quickly. They have been full of different experiences; some fun, some, not so much (tearing my meniscus sucked). But no matter what they have been I have found that anything with Laura makes me happy. That is why, on this Christmas day, with all the gifts, food, and fun that is to be had, the thing I look forward to most is simply being with Laura. All the presents in the world would mean nothing if I didn’t get to open them with her. We are starting the day opening presents together, then having breakfast with the Mechams, and then over to dinner with the Collards, which means a whole entire day with Laura. Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless you and your families this Christmas Season and during the New Year!