Despite the fact that Damon Dickinson and Neil Alpert are Jewish, the couple have celebrated Christmas with Mr. Dickinson’s family each of the last four years.
“Growing up Catholic, so many of my poignant life moments with my immediate or extended families were Christmas-related, so I have a lot of special memories there,” said Mr. Dickinson (left), 26, who converted to Judaism after the two began their relationship.
“Neil and I don’t celebrate Christmas in a religious sense, but in a more family-traditional sense,” added Mr. Dickinson, the director of operations and special projects at Potomac Management, a financial advisory firm in Washington. Mr. Alpert is the managing director of the firm.
He met Mr. Alpert, 42, in March 2013 at a coffee shop in Washington, when Mr. Dickinson was still a student at George Washington University, from which he graduated. The two stayed in touch and in September of that year, Mr. Dickinson began as one of several interns at LaserLock Technologies, the company for which Mr. Alpert was then the chief executive. They got to know each other more through shared volunteer work in Washington after Mr. Dickinson left the company and it was then that their relationship began to take a romantic turn.
“We have a pretty big age-gap, about 16 years, which meant we needed to take things a little bit slower in terms of getting to know each other,” said Mr. Alpert, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island.
“We certainly took a little extra time to introduce one another to our parents,” Mr. Alpert said of Vicki and Aaron Alpert of Port Washington, N.Y. “But funny enough, when we finally made those introductions, both sets of parents were all for it.”
The couple realized how much they had in common, like a love of travel and cooking, not to mention the television sitcom “Golden Girls.”
“We wound up spending so much time together, our interests became intertwined,” Mr. Alpert said. “It wasn’t like Cupid shot an arrow in our direction, we just kind of eased into our relationship, so it was sort of a natural progression during which we unknowingly became each other’s best friend.”
During their friendship, Mr. Alpert’s grandmother died, and shortly after they began dating in September 2015, Mr. Alpert’s mother lost her battle with cancer.
“Those were two sad, seminal moments in my life that Damon helped me get through,” Mr. Alpert said. “Fortunately, Damon’s family had welcomed me with open arms. It was as if I had a second family to lean on.”
Mr. Alpert had become a favorite of Mr. Dickinson’s parents, Julie and Ryne Dickinson of Appleton, Wis., both of whom were happy with their son’s eventual choice to convert to Judaism. It was a decision the couple had made after countless Shabbat dinners at their condominium in Georgetown, which they shared with their six-year-old dog, a Maltipoo named Marley. (They have since moved to the Watergate Complex in Washington.)
Mr. Dickinson’s parents were also pleased to learn that their son and son-in-law had agreed to continue to enjoy Christmas with them, which the Dickinson’s celebrate each year at their lakeside home in Gwinn, Mich., along with Mr. Dickinson’s older brother, Tyler, and his wife, Kelly.
“I spent my very first Christmas with Damon, and as someone who lost his mother, I could not ask for a more caring mother-in law,” Mr. Alpert said.
“She went as far as getting me my own Christmas stocking, and hung it next to Damon’s,” he said. “Needless to say, my first Christmas was everything I hoped Christmas would be.”
The two were married Aug. 29 at the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va., by Rabbi Aaron Miller.
After a year of planning, the couple originally intended to marry in May 2020 at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington before 300 guests, but had to change plans because of the coronavirus.
They intend to host a bigger party in 2021 on their first wedding anniversary.
“But we still have one Christmas to celebrate before then,” said Mr. Alpert, laughing. “That’s become one of my favorite holidays of the year.”