Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do something a little new. I am part of the launch team for a book coming out on September 5th called Loving My Actual Christmas, so I’ll be talking about that on Mondays until it launches. I know – August is so early to be thinking about Christmas, but this book is so practical in its advice and knowledge that I think it’s timely so that we can intentionally enjoy the Christmas we get this year. I’ll be sharing my reviewing process, my favorite big idea from the section, and of course, where you can find it!
Alex Kuykendall is the author of Loving My Actual Life, a book that came out May, 2016, and explores how to love the life you actually have instead of the life you wish you had.
Loving My Actual Christmas follows along that same theme – how can we, especially as moms, love our actual Christmas instead of the one we wish we had. In order to love our Christmas, we have to get a little bit real with it. We have to acknowledge the realities of our schedule, of our budget, of the personality interplay among our families and friends, and so on. There is a lot of reality that goes on behind the scenes of making Christmas magical.
In the first section of this book, Alex breaks down Christmas into the four weeks leading up (Advent) and then the Christmastide (also known as the 12 days of Christmas). I’ve read up through week 2 of Advent so far and it’s been a good read so far.
The main idea I’ve really grabbed onto is being intentional about speaking and voicing our expectations. Talk about the holiday schedule BEFORE it happens, instead of flying by the seat of your pants. Talk to the extended family about their wishes and desires for gatherings BEFORE we start making travel plans. Talk about the Christmas budget BEFORE we start spending money. Make a list of all the people we intend to buy for and set dollar limits.
Then, with all of that planned, we could actually focus on the reason for Christmas – that God came to earth in the flesh to seek and save the lost, to draw us to Him. We can focus on celebrating the beginning of the redemption plan, we can focus on loving other people, and being a light of calm in the storm of Christmas expectations, overspending, overstressing, overeating, and undersleeping, crazy travel schedules, and feeling like one can’t pause to even take a breath until January 23rd because all the Christmas stuff is finally done and we’ve had a week or two to process that number in our bank account or on our credit card.
And maybe, just maybe, with a little bit of advanced thinking and advanced planning, we don’t need to be startled or depressed by how much we spent because we went into the season with a spending plan. Maybe, just maybe, if we started thinking about Christmas spending now, we could even squirrel away most of the money we plan to spend or we could spend some time becoming aware of what our spending limit is and then choose to honor it. Choose to honor our own budget instead of getting caught up trying to out-do whoever it is we try to out-do every year. What if we just did US this year and let the rest of the stuff slide? It’s certainly a thought, isn’t it?
All that said, for me, this is the best section of this book so far. I tend to just float into Christmas with no plan and then, before I know it, the season is gone. Suddenly it’s December 15th and husband’s birthday is just a few days away and I have no gift and it’s totally empty under the tree because I haven’t bothered shopping for anyone, plus I need to think about extra gifts for my two-days-after-Christmas-baby (who will be FOUR this year!). Instead of stressing about the season and the striving toward perfection, my inclination is to mostly miss it until the last minute shopping panic. However, if we can talk about it and plan it out a little more, I suspect I could actually enjoy the season instead of float through it and wonder how it arrived so quickly and how it seemed to evaporate right before my eyes.
I am almost certain that this year, and probably soon, we will be doing some Christmas planning and talking so that by the time the actual season rolls around, we won’t be surprised, we will have a plan, and then as we work the realistic plan, we will really enjoy the magic of what Christmas should really be.
What about you? What is your Christmas tendency? In what way would being more intentional and deliberate help you enjoy the season more?