Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. But often we become overwhelmed with family gatherings, hurried shopping trips, Christmas programs and parties, and planning for houseguests. Not only does our focus stray from remembering that "Jesus is the reason for the season," but we often forget to make special couple time.
For most of their married years, Bob and Ruthi Neely of Spartanburg, South Carolina, have tried to find creative ways to say "I love you" to each other. They realized Christmas was one of those times that needed more couple time.
Several years ago, for every day of the 12 days of Christmas, Bob did something special for Ruthi. Sometimes it was just a silly little present, sometimes it was a lasting token of love, always there was a note that conveyed the message of the day: "You are special. I love you at Christmas and all year long."
Here's what Bob did:
On the first day of Christmas …
Ruthi's favorite place to go was the beach. So when she opened the door to the bathroom on the morning of the first day of Christmas, she was greeted by a room transformed into a beach (they have a large bathroom!). Bob had set up a beach umbrella, sand chairs, spread out beach towels, a few beach balls, and even a little sand. In her chair was a new book to read and her drink holder was complete with her favorite beverage.
Honey, Life with you is like a day at the beach—wonderful in every way.
On the second day of Christmas …
Two gold earrings made the second day special.
Our love is more precious than gold.
On the third day of Christmas …
Ruthi found three magazines tied with a bow at her place at the table.
Take a moment to relax and enjoy these.
On the fourth day of Christmas …
In the "12 Days" song, the gift is four calling birds. For Ruthi's fourth day of Christmas, she received four unusual telephone calls to wish her a happy day: one from Robin, one from Wren, one from Mrs. Parrott, and one from Miss Crow. She had her own personal calling "birds."
I am so thankful to be able to call you my wife.
On the fifth day of Christmas …
Five golden rings were replaced by five Butterfingers, Ruthi's favorite candy bar.
Five Butterfingers, one for each day, each with a message, "I love you today!"
On the sixth day of Christmas …
Bob and Ruthi have six children. So for the sixth day of Christmas, Ruthi received a new photo of each child to display on their family wall.
Each one of these photos represents a special gift from God. I love each of them very much, and I love their mother.
On the seventh day of Christmas …
When she sits by the fireplace to read a book, Ruthi also loves to sip a cup of tea. She received a pretty new mug with seven tea bags.
Enjoy a cup of tea. If you could read the tea leaves, they would say "I Love You!"
On the eighth day of Christmas …
Eight tickets for a Christmas program gave Ruthi and her entire family a special night out.
I am so proud to be seen in public with you and our precious family.
On the ninth day of Christmas …
Nine ladies need music to dance to. So Bob found nine of Ruthi's favorite songs and put them on a CD for her.
On the ninth day the gift was nine ladies dancing. But I don't want anyone but me dancing with you! How 'bout a dancing date?
On the tenth day of Christmas …
Ruthi loves fountain sodas from a particular restaurant. So for the tenth day of Christmas, Bob went to the restaurant and paid for ten diet drinks. For the next ten days, all Ruthi had to do was pull up to the window and collect her treat!
I will be thinking of you as you start your day!
On the eleventh day of Christmas …
Eleven peppermints of her favorite kind were in a festive bag.
Peppermints enough to share, peppermints to show I care, peppermints for you to eat, peppermints for you, my sweet!
On the twelfth day of Christmas …
Twelve chocolate kisses wrapped in Christmas colors.
Available any season, 12 real kisses just for you.
Some years Ruthi turns the table and treats Bob to a celebration of the 12 days of Christmas. Other years they've both lavished small presents on each other.
Now when cheer is in the air, Bob and Ruthi enjoy not only the normal holiday festivities, but their special holiday tradition as well.
Linda Gilden, an author and speaker for CLASServices, has been married to John for 34 years. Parts of this article were adapted from her book, Love Notes on His Pillow (New Hope Publishers).
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.