Christmas is fun, family, faith, busyness, chaos–and so much more!
And I’ve written a ton about Christmas on the blog.
Today, as we’re gearing up for Christmas, I thought I’d share 10 of the most important Christmas posts that you’ll want to bookmark to return to over this month! Some are gift guides; some are tradition ideas; and some will help you navigate difficult family relationships this time of year!
I’m just getting back from a vacation to Costa Rica today, and so we’re finally going to switch gears and start thinking about Christmas (and Keith may even get the lights up!). So today seemed like a good day to transition to Christmas on the blog, too!
(Don’t know how to bookmark a website? There’s often a star next to the bar with the website’s URL you can click, or you can click D while holding down the ctrl key [or command, if you’re a mac user]).
I’m trying to keep this post family friendly… but that isn’t to say all of your stocking stuffers should be! I’ve collected a bunch of great ideas to spice things up and to make your husband feel legendary (as one of the gift ideas points out). Read the post!
Gift giving is tricky, especially for guys. I put together a list of stocking stuffers that included items I saw from amazon purchases through our affiliate links. From bacon flavoured salt to a credit card sized tool (9 tools? Fits in your wallet? So cool!) this list has it all.
Looking for a gift for your spouse? A board game to play in the cold dark winter nights after the kids are to bed (or just with a cup of tea, if you’re like us and don’t have kids at home!) I put together a list of all of our favorite games a few years ago, and then updated it last year with a bunch of new games! We play board games together as a Boxing Day tradition (December 26 for those of you not in the Commonwealth). It’s a really fun, inexpensive thing to do together. And getting new games as Christmas gifts is a really fun way to set up board gaming fun for the whole new year. Get some ideas!
This one’s an oldy but a goody. Christmas is a wonderful season, but each of us has our own preferences for the holidays. Do we do what we did as kids or create new traditions? How should we give gifts as a couple? To Christmas card or not to Christmas card? Travelling? If so, where? It’s enough to cause myriad “discussions” between spouses. My biggest pieces of advice: find ways to keep stress out of Christmas and to discuss things ahead of time so that your expectations are set. Get started!
Christmas traditions often grow with our families – but what if you don’t have kids? I know we often make Christmas about the magic of Christmas morning, preschoolers doing pageants, and handmade ornaments, and all of those things are important. But (obviously) Christmas is about the “long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.” We can develop special ways to celebrate the incarnation without kids. And, honestly, I think having special ways to celebrate is really important, no matter what season you’re in. I asked readers for ideas and we came up with a really fun list of traditions to try. Read the post!
For many of us, the holidays are our one family reunion of the year. This makes our time together incredibly important… but it can also make connecting hard, because there often just aren’t natural conversations to have. I implemented charades at a family Christmas a few years ago and it really helped us to connect and laugh together. One of the families featured in Becca’s book has a tradition where they run around the house in their bare feet through the snow every Christmas and then play a guessing game. Coming up with your family’s preferred shenanigan method can be a huge facilitator of meaningful connection and memory making. Get some ideas for fun family gatherings here!
What do you do with uncouth relatives during the holidays – swearing around children and excessive drinking – but not abusive relatives? And what about when you’ve got kids? Taking them in small doses can help, but honestly, people swearing in your presence isn’t abuse, nor is their getting drunk around you. Being family and loving them despite their faults can help build bridges. I included some really helpful ways to protect kids while being a part of the festivities. I ended with this: “Jesus ate with sinners, which means He ate with people who normally made lewd jokes, who swore a lot, and who drank too much. But those people were comfortable with him. And I think it’s because he saw through the false bravado and just talked to them like people. This Christmas, can we do the same thing?” Read the post!
So what are you supposed to do when relatives have behavior that veers from uncomfortable or distasteful to abusive or dangerous? You set boundaries – be that leaving if X happens, or not going at all until Y changes, or whatever boundary is appropriate for the moment. But here’s the deal: you also have to do the hard thing and say why you aren’t participating. I think this is a really important message if your family is manipulative, bullying, or abusive. Read the post!
A reader wrote in wondering how to manage the holidays despite being, understandably, estranged from her mother. Her siblings are okay going with her mom and so she is totally left out of the festivities. It’s a really hard situation and I honestly finished the post struggling – there aren’t easy answers, quick solutions, or magic bullets. It’s just hard. But I did do a lot of reflecting about the fact that her siblings have not stood in the gap for her: in dysfunctional families, loyalty matters more than truth. Read the post here!
After all that heaviness, I want to round out this round up with a few of my favorite things at Christmas. I don’t know about you, but we’ve slowly accumulated holiday traditions over the years. Some are reflective… and others involve silent monks “signing” the Hallelujah chorus. I wrote this post in the run up to Connor’s first Christmas as a part of the family and I’m so excited to enjoy David’s first holiday as a son in law… and I hope he enjoys our annual rendition of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Read the list!
What are some of your favourite Christmas tips? What is a favourite tradition of yours? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!