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10 Ways to Thoughfully Navigate the Holidays

November 02, 2023
By Stacy McClelland

November has arrived and with it brings the anticipation of great excitement and joy over all the good things to come: food, gifts, family, laughter, etc.  Yet, for those of us managing all the details, it may also bring with it the need for a deep breath to help ease all anxiety and impending stress!


We love the time together, the celebration, the festivities, decorations, and the music. But along with all the good things, there’s also the stress of preparation, expectations and the fear of letdowns, or family tension that never quite goes away.  


What if, with these days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, we intentionally and thoughtfully consider how to prepare for all the anticipated festivities? Or, prepare for how festivities will have changed and, quite possibly, not as many loved ones gathered around the table this year. 


Here are 10 purposeful ways to restore some of the wonder and delight in the holiday season. The great news? It's not just for your kids, but for you, too:


Set Manageable Expectations


Sit down right now and consider reasonable and manageable expectations for your personal holiday season. Be realistic and share with your family how they can come alongside and help with decorating, cooking, or other necessary preparations. Find ways to infuse the atmosphere with joy versus the mindset of all that has to be completed. Spend time thoughtfully considering what events or activities are a priority for your family.  Maybe a new tradition will even be birthed from these moments of intentionality!


Remember the holiday season does not eliminate sadness or loneliness


With all the brokenness in the world, there is the harsh reality that you, or your family members, have endured hardship. It is a reality that, for some, the holiday season brings painful memories from recent events or the loss of loved ones. It's important to give room for yourself and your family to experience and express these feelings. If there has been a loss of a loved one, make time and room for highlighting and sharing memories everyone enjoyed together. Consider carving out time to pay honor or tribute to the missing loved one(s). All in all, enjoy finding memorable ways to bring everyone together in joy and love and make room for intentional conversation that pays respect to the grief, loss, or sadness being experienced.


Acknowledge the past but look forward to the future


Make the decision to enjoy this holiday season for what it is. Honoring the past, whether it was good or bad, is fitting. However, try not to compare this year's festivities with the good ole days  of years gone by. Be sure to hone in on gratefulness and take advantage of the joys the present holiday season has to offer.


Develop and encourage a life of gratitude


While your circumstances may never change, your attitude toward them can certainly benefit from a focus on all you have to be grateful for in this life. This one little mindset shift can make all the difference during the holiday season and beyond. Wake up tomorrow morning and start counting your blessings!


Do something for someone else


No matter the difficulties, helping others never ceases to encourage a shift in perspective. It helps to take our eyes off our own circumstances and focus on how we can bring joy to another this holiday season.


Enjoy activities that are affordable or free


Making memories together is priceless, but it doesn't have to be costly! There are many good holiday-related activities that will add to your family’s enjoyment that are either free or low-cost, and all will remember the feelings attached to the incredible experiences!


Enjoy a family holiday tradition


Traditions have a way of bringing people together and provide ways to preserve a family legacy. Create meaningful memories this holiday season and reflect on what is most important to you and your family.


Try something new


Have you and your family felt as if you were in a rut this year? Is it time for something new and unexpected to spruce things up a bit? Think about finding a new way to celebrate the holiday season this year. You may just create a new tradition that will keep going for generations!


Spend money responsibly


Temptation abounds over the holidays, and one of the biggest temptations is to spend, spend, spend. We think that, in getting just the right gift, we will make our loved one exceptionally happy. Yet, so many time, stuff is just stuff. Don’t be afraid to say no to this temptation. Decide now to be financially responsible this holiday season.


Carve out some time for yourself


Remember the importance of sharing the load this holiday season and create some space to fill your own soul. Take some time to unwind and recharge, and then burst out with a jolly, “Ho Ho Ho!” 


Adapted from Parent Cue: 10 Ways to Thoughtfully Prepare for the Holidays



Family Resources

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We are living in a culture increasingly hostile to Biblical truth. Cissie Graham Lynch understands the challenges of raising a family to live for Jesus. This devotional study of 1 Peter will inspire and equip you to spend daily time in God’s Word. Peter wrote this short epistle to believers living in turbulent times, just like we are today.

This study is ideal for parents, grandparents, teachers and others with a passion to live Biblically and to share “the good news” (1 Peter 1:25) with the next generation.

"Every moment of each day should be steeped in His Word. Only then will we—and our children—be able to stand fast, “blameless and innocent…in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,” (Philippians 2:15).

-Cissie Graham Lynch

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