Loving My Mid-Life Christmas

For the past several years, change has been the only constant in our Christmas celebration.

Grown up sons marry, pack up their collection of treasured ornaments, and hang them on their own trees. College guys come home when they can and join in the fun on an intermittent schedule. Teens branching into individualized creativity grab an ax, stride manfully into the woods, and return bearing a Charlie Brown tree for their bedroom, which they will festoon with enough lights to interfere with normal sleep patterns.

Our Christmas gatherings have become a moving target with a schedule that requires both flexibility and diplomacy, but I’m learning to appreciate the Christmas that is and to let Christmas past be past — fondly remembered but not slaying my enjoyment of the here and now.

Alexandra Kuykendall, author of Loving My Actual Christmas, struggled with loving “Christmas present” as well. Visions of Pinterest perfection left her exhausted and so done with Christmas that she finished the season by stripping the decorations off the tree and stuffing them into their boxes, not caring if she ever saw them again.

In addition, Norman Rockwell gatherings around a flawless feast didn’t match the reality of the recent loss of her father and the empty chair at the table

Alexandra wanted to make some changes that would bring joy back into her celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She conducted an experiment which she hoped would help her to capture the essence of the season, and Loving My Actual Christmas is her lab report. Each of the four weeks of Advent and the lighting of each of the four candles represents a theme, so the Kuykendalls implemented those themes as the framework for their actual Christmas.

Who among us doesn’t appreciate a little more Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in our celebration of Jesus?

I’m sharing my review of Loving My Actual Christmas over at The Perennial Gen, so I hope you’ll click on over and join us there. Insights from the book may be just what you’re looking for to align your own celebration with the reality that surrounds you, and while you’re visiting, be sure to check out the collection of other posts.

You’ll be inspired by the wisdom there as you put down solid roots into the dirt and light of midlife.



Additional Resources

Alexandra shares even more details about her Christmas experiment on her own podcast, The Open Door Sisterhood. She also engaged in a soulful and enlightening conversation on the Ears to Speak podcast, episode 5 in which she discussed the Christmas realities of budgets and complicated relationships, planning realistic and joyful traditions, and her journey of discovering how to live out a Christmas that is full of love and is spiritually intriguing to the people around you.

This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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20 thoughts on “Loving My Mid-Life Christmas”

  1. Oh Michele that was beautiful. You manage to make me laugh despite the changes that can seem rather melancholic at the time… Ha! The axe bearing son and sleep- defying lights! Beautiful spirit of faith. Wrapping Mary and Joseph… Glad they have each other… Lovely post. The best bits are always your sharing of yourself 😊


  2. I think I needed this book in November. Sigh. Less than a week to go and expectations/disappointments run high w/ girls and more girls. Lord, have mercy. (And He does and will.)


  3. Thank you for this Michele. I’ve reached the point where Christmas past is past. My brother was killed two years ago. My mother is getting older. My children are grown with children of their own (though luckily still close enough to visit on Christmas). Life circumstances change, and I do not want to spoil the wonderful things I have now by longing for the things of the past. Thank you for this important reminder. Perhaps I will read this book early in the new year in preparation for next Christmas. May your holidays be full of hope, peace, joy, and love. (I found your post on Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop.


    1. Christie, thank you for bringing your commitment to joy into your celebration of Christmas, despite some very challenging circumstances. It’s a great idea to read the book in preparation for next year, and I hope you’ll find that Alexandra’s thoughts encourage you. She has actually written another book called Loving My Actual Life which offers the same kind of practical help in embracing the life God has given instead of wishing it away.


  4. Dear Michele,
    Oh thank you for this great book review and for your own thoughts on the Season here too. Oh, this had me nodding in agreement: “Teens branching into individualized creativity grab an ax, stride manfully into the woods, and return bearing a Charlie Brown tree for their bedroom, which they will festoon with enough lights to interfere with normal sleep patterns,” as I remembered those days when boys were becoming men in our own household! What joy to ponder the memories, storing them in my heart like Mary did, while seeking to find God’s best in these current days too. Blessings to you this Christmas!


    1. Yes, it’s quite a thing to witness that process. I am now, officially, the shortest person in my house. Actually, the shortest in my family other than grandchildren. That startles me a bit, because where did the time go? And also, all the places I used to “hide” things up high so kids couldn’t reach them are now at eye level to the “reachers.”


  5. We do work awfully hard to make Christmas measure up to our expectations, don’t we? What a wonderful thought, to love your actual Christmas! Thank you for the reminder and the book recommendation! and Many Christmas Blessings to you!


  6. Michele, I went over and read this post. I’ve been on a fairly long break from writing/blogging over Christmas, and yours is the first post I read. I remembered seeing the title weeks ago and thinking, “I need to read this!” My college son is here just for 11 days, and also has friends to see, especially since this is our last Christmas in Izmir. And this year my 18 year old daughter didn’t feel much like lighting our advent wreath and doing readings. I didn’t want it to be a burden, so we lit it just a few times and mainly sang carols. So I mostly enjoyed those readings alone. It was delightful.


    1. Thanks for making time to read and comment on this post. It does sound as if your family is deep into the days of transition with your traditions, etc. So wonderful that you were able to make something delightful out of the change instead of lamenting the loss of “the way things used to be.”
      And — I applaud your “long break,” and wish I had had the forethought to do likewise. I’ve already written on my calendar for next year to take a break from blogging during the Christmas season. I’m feeling the need to charge batteries and to fall back and regroup as well.
      Blessings to you!


  7. I can SO relate! As a mom of 8 children, ages 6 to 19, our celebrations are certainly a “moving target” as you say. My oldest just got engaged 2 days before Christmas so we are about to enter a whole new realm of family gatherings. 🙂


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