Matt Kraemer and daughters

Matt Kraemer with daughters Emilia and Grace. 

You’d probably be hard pressed to find a person who genuinely hates the holiday season. There are very few actual Scrooges who curse at Christmas trees, spit on Santa impersonators and slam the door in the face of eager carolers.

That being said, there is a spectrum of holiday enthusiasm — marked by family traditions, life experiences and personal associations with the holiday.

There are “meh” people who muddle through, anxious to get on with it and start the New Year.

There are people who get measurably excited for the holiday season, embracing traditions, exchanging gifts and genuinely enjoying all the trappings of this time of year.

And then there are Christmas people. I’m married to a Christmas person.

Until Matt and I began spending the holidays together, I didn’t know Christmas people existed outside of the frosty lens of a Hallmark movie. I thought I was into the holiday season. After all, I like decorating. I appreciate Christmas movies. I enjoy “Jingle Bell Rock” in moderation.

Then I saw Matt turn it up to 11.

He begins with self-imposed holiday deprivation. From Dec. 26 until the week before Thanksgiving, he keeps all Christmas songs, books, movies and conversational references at bay. And then he lifts the floodgates, ushering in a short but sincere season of holiday devotion. A full yuletide immersion.

From that point on, all movies are Christmas movies. All music is Christmas music; the dial in his car carefully tuned to Star 104.5 with only short breaks for the news. He loves to read Christmas books to the girls, spearhead our elf’s next nighttime adventure and help Emilia painstakingly assemble her various crafts and Nativity scenes.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate this marital dynamic more and more. I genuinely enjoy being the behind-the-scenes elf to his front-and-center Santa, buying gifts, getting out the decorations and watching the girls flank their dad for their fourth viewing of “Home Alone 2.” And in the years when grief and loss have cast a shadow over my Christmas experience, I’m grateful that one of us is able to ensure our girls don’t miss out on the magic.

Plus, if it weren’t for Matt, I wouldn’t know the names of every character in “It’s a Wonderful Life”; I wouldn’t be able to predict the plot line of a cheesy TV Christmas movie – right down to the widowed father’s ambiguously creative job; and I wouldn’t take the time to slow down and just absorb the fleeting beauty of the season.

So, here’s to Christmas people. May we know them, may we be them and, if we’re lucky, may we marry them.


Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and Phoebe, 1. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.