NOTE: This is from 2014, but all of the content, guides and links still work and apply just as much today as they did in 2014. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
WOW! We are just over two weeks away from Christmas!
What’s your favorite part of the Christmas season? I LOVE the music. Every year some of my favorite groups/singers come out with a new Christmas album. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve heard the same traditional songs, I still love hearing a new take on an old classic. This year I am mildly obsessed with Johnnyswim’s A Johnnyswim Christmas, Darius Rucker’s Home For the Holidays, and Shane and Shane’s A Worship Initiative Christmas.
With the great music and movies comes the hustle and bustle of the season, guaranteed to bring a combination of joy and groans for you and your family. My friends Lance & Mandy Sisco recently taught a newly married event called Thriving During the Holidays. They did a great job on this topic and their teaching is relevant for both the newlywed and not-so-newlywed couples! You can download both their handout and the audio teaching. The handout alone is fantastic: holiday date ideas, ways to serve together, creative gift ideas, and a bunch of expectations questions.
Below are a few highlights from their talk, mixed in with some of my own pointers to make this your best Christmas yet!.
1. Discuss Your Christmas Expectations.
You have expectations about everything related to Christmas, whether you know it or not. We have expectations about the type of tree we will get, the color and size of lights, when we decorate, when we open gifts, where we will spend the holidays, and so much more! A failure to discuss these expectations with your significant other, will inevitably lead to conflict. In dealing with unmet expectations, check out this post I recently shared on 3 better ways to handle your unmet expectations.
2. Have conversations about Christmas and money.
How much will you spend on gifts for one another, for your kids, for Aunty Maude, your boss, the postman, and many others. Your finances are not just ‘going to work out’ without planning ahead. Dr. Phil (ahem) says it well: “It’s Math, not magic.” Unfortunately, I am about 3-4 months late on encouraging the conversation for this Christmas, but, make a commitment to plan ahead financially for next Christmas.
3. Read some kind of Advent Devotional.
There are so many great ones out there to read on your own, with your spouse, or with your kids.
- My personal favorite: Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative, by Russ Ramsey
- John Piper writes a great Advent Devotional every year. This year the book is called The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. You can download the audio from Audible or download the Kindle version!
- We are reading Jotham’s Journey with our kids this year. Our kids are hooked (I kind of am, too)!
- Check out this excellent resource the Village Church put together for individuals, families and community/home groups.
4. Decide what traditions you are going to have as a family. (aka Be a Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins)
You both come into marriage with traditions from your family of origin. Which ones will you bring into your family and which ones are you going to keep out? This is the first Christmas in a few years that our family will celebrate Christmas in our own home. We look forward to establishing some new traditions this Christmas. We’ve already watched Home Alone and Elf – a definite tradition for the Kedersha boys!
5. Look for ways to serve others.
There are so many great ways to serve others during the holidays: Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child, and many more. If you’re in Dallas, check out the list Watermark put together for opportunities to both Give and Go: The World at Our Table as a family.
6. Take some time to simply… relax!
Watch some great movies, take in some College Football Bowl Games, play some games as a family, read a great book. We go, go, go all year round, including the holiday season. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap. This year I want to go Chrismas caroling in our neighborhood!
7. Be prepared for the tough as well as the great.
In the midst of all the great celebrating, Christmas also tends to bring family conflict and can also exacerbate grief when you think of a loved one who is no longer with you. A few encouragements:
- Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Paul’s words are a great guide to living at peace with others, doing as much as we can to live peaceably with all.
- The GriefShare ministry compiled some good articles for those who have lost a loved one.
8. Last word… Be a Great Host!
Whether you are at your home, your family of origin, your in-laws, or someplace else: be a great host. A great host says, “There you are,” whereas a guest always says, “Here I am.”
In a season when we celebrate the coming of the One who came to die on our behalf, may we follow His example, by putting the needs of others before our own, by keeping our eyes focused on someone other than ourselves. Christmas is a great opportunity to serve others, and to be a great “host” to others.
As I type, I am praying for any reader of this post. I am praying this will be a great Christmas for you and your family. I ask that you pray the same for me and my family. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Speaking of…. Please Comment Below or on Facebook. 3 Questions:
1. What’s your favorite Christmas song?
2. How about your favorite Christmas Album/MP3/cassette/CD/8-track?
3. Your favorite Christmas movie