• Christmas is, as we say in our household, the season of BIG FEELINGS. Expect all of them from your spouse. And from yourself. Without judgement. The other night I realized our daughter called thermometers “mothers,” and I could not find a suitable amount of Kleenex. My husband looked perplexed and said, “Are you sure that is what she is saying?” Whereas he started to weep when he saw a Christmas card that was also a pregnancy announcement. And I just looked at the gorgeous couple and thought, “They will be so tired soon.” We all have our Christmas Crying Kryptonite. Embrace it.
  • Do not drink and talk about anything except how pretty the tree turned out. There will be family fighting without you two laying into one another. It is the birth of the savior of the world we are commemorating after all. That is bound to come with some handheld hell-delivered divisiveness. You are hereby forbidden from pouring a glass of chardonnay and mentioning a new parenting technique.
  • If your tree looks like hot sparkly trash, like ours, then just squint.
  • One of you has been shopping since September. And the other one has not started shopping yet. Some people like adrenaline. It all manages to end up under the tree by the 24th. So who cares?
  • Watch The Family Stone together. It is a Christmas move where the mom dies. You will both be grateful for each other still being alive. Sometimes this is all you need.
  • Put Santa out together. And try not to worry too much about your kids seeing you. It will happen eventually. And some of my most favorite memories of middle school were hearing my parents giggling together in the living room on Christmas Eve. It can be magical for your adolescent kids in its own way.
  • For God’s sake go to church on Christmas Eve. Hell, go on Christmas Day if you want to! If for no other reason than it is a good activity to get everyone out of the house.
  • Buy Hot Pockets. You are welcome.
  • If someone decides that this is the year to finally forge ahead with the plan they made with their therapist, then quickly ask everyone if they’ve heard that story on NPR about how Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is now a Christmas classic. This will hit all of the demographics in the room. And change the subject. Then you can pull out your phone and show them the video at the bottom of this post. People say that screens are a distraction from reality but also I believe that sometimes the Lord blesses us in unexpected ways.
  • Family therapy conversations are for February. We are all too old for Valentine’s Day. Go ahead and mess that one up.
  • Stop comparing your house decor to your neighbor’s. It is not your husband’s fault that he is busy this time of year. You could string up lights. You just do not want to. And you tried it a few years ago and locked yourself on your front porch in a bath robe. Besides, the inflatable nativity still works. This is despite the fact that it has a giant hole in it from your children annually dragging it across the driveway to “help.” And you have a light-up Christmas narwal! Your family is just artsy! Or whatever!
  • Christians love to complain that Christmas starts too early. But you know better. Hearing Kelly Clarkson belt out “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices” in the Target dollar section in October is God trying to whisper to this sin sick hurting world: I have come to love you. So hug your spouse. Bake them some cookies. Watch the Christmas Prince 3 together. Spend an obscene amount of money at the mall (!) in a 36 hour mad dash fueled by Starbucks and a 13 year romance. You only have so many of these seasons left. Marvel at a God who looked at the complicated mess of marriage and called it good, even at Christmas. Marvel at a God who gave you one another and gave his Son for our salvation.