Holiday Plans or Holiday Pressure?

Staying Connected During the Holidays

By Richard and JeannaLynn May

We love winter and the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years!  It’s the best time of the year for us!  Our anniversary is smack dab in the middle of it.  It’s true, though, that many couples get disconnected during this time of the year.  Here are some suggestions for connecting (and staying connected) during the winter holidays.

  1. Be intentional.  Start with the last chapter in view.  Share with each other what will make the holidays a “10” for you. If you are going to be connected through the holidays, it will be because you decided you would.  Keep a steady supply of M&M’s.  Think “team” and be a team!
  2. Get out the games.  Play games that can’t be played without interaction and conversation.
  3. Don’t fight over where you are going to visit.  Make the plans as a team around what’s best for your family.  Make them earlier, communicate them using the words “we” and “us,”, and follow them with enthusiasm.
  4. Make acronyms out of the names of holidays and let everybody share them.  For instance, at Christmas let everybody name gifts they can give that don’t cost anything that begin with the letters of “Christmas.”
  5. Create connecting ambiance.  We turn down the lights and eat our meals by candlelight.  It calms and slows things down.  We don’t seem to leave the table so quickly.
  6. Create connecting conversation.  Share your highs and lows for the day or year with each other.  Take your time doing this.
  7. Don’t rush through the gift opening.  Open one gift at a time.  Let everybody enjoy the gift for a few minutes before you open the next.
  8. Share responsibilities.  Encourage everybody to watch what needs to be done and volunteer to help.  Model helpfulness.
  9. Plan TV time and turn it off when no planned show is on.
  10. Don’t overspend.  The guilt of spending too much and the worry it creates act as a wedges.
  11. Find a way for all of you to do some kind of service for somebody else together.  Go to a soup kitchen or have everyone gather two items from their room to take to a shelter.  Deliver hot chocolate to people on the street.
  12. Create a tradition of reading a story as a family at Christmas.  We read the story of Clarabelle the Christmas Cow every year.  We’ve also read The Christmas Jars, The Christmas Spurs, and The Purpose of Christmas.  Get them on audio if you are traveling and listen as you go!
  13. Begin other fun family traditions like having an all day pajama day, making Ice cream Sundaes on one of the Sundays.  Go to the mall, draw names, and take one hour to go buy a $5 – $10 gift for that person; and then meet in a restaurant over some coffee or hot chocolate to exchange the gifts one at a time. Go see one of the Christmas movie releases.

Don’t drift from each other during the holidays.  Act in such an intentional way that you don’t have to work to reconnect when the holidays are past.  Staying connected is biblical (Gen 2:24), great for your kids and/or other family to see (Matt 5:14), far less chaotic, and way more fun!

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