Remembering the Meaning of Christmas

How do we remember to keep our minds on the manger and not the mall? How to we avoid failing into addictive, energy-draining, schedule-chaining, headache-making, wallet-breaking commercial consumerism? Especially after divorce when we all need something fun and ex citing to cheer us up and distract us from the heartbreak of a holiday apart?

Easy: prayer! During the holiday season begin each day with this prayer or one like it:

Readjusting Your Expectations

Birthdays come every year, and so does Jesus’. Contrary to the thoughts that might run through your head, this year does not have to be the perfect Christmas. If you’re like me, most of your high expectations are based on fear that you will not have the ideal fantasy holiday, and that this night be the last chance to ever create such for your children. They are growing so quickly — you remind yourself — and you only have so many years to give them the perfect childhood memories.

How many of your expectations are also based on wanting to recreate and recapture for yourself the feelings of your own childhood, or to make up for those you did not have?

Overly high expectations are the basis of disappointment, anger, and even resentment. Have you thought about what you want at Christmas compared to what God wants for you and your children this season? What are your expectations, and what are his?

To create a perfectly decorated home ? To create a warm, loving environment
To have the prefect tree ? To remind the kids what the Christmas tree symbolizes
To buy your kids the presents they really want ? To give your children the gift of your time, attention and love
To make sure the kids get to see all the latest holiday movies ? to watch one movie together as a family and discuss it

Rebuilding Family Traditions
Go to Chinese dinner on Christmas Eve
Watch Miracle on 34th Street ? Talk about being a single parent during the holidays
Open presents on a different day
Keep some traditions the same -Ask the kids which they want to keep and which to add
Let the kids have their own tree
Reach out for help with the lights etal

Revising the Holiday Schedule
Let go of the need to control
Don’t try to split Christmas day
Explain to your family why the kids can’t be here
Be generous with visitation ? it’s the season of giving!
Practice being alone
Plan something fun with your friends when the kids are gone
Catch your bitter thoughts
Whatever you didn’t get to do this year, plan for next year.
Leave time for do-nothing days and naps.
Teach your children about the damage of over scheduling

Recapturing the Holiday Spirit
Set up a crae
Make time for church
Pray together
Sing in the car together
Play Christmas music every day
Send the kids to bed every night with carols
Find a family to help
Decorate the tree together

Restoring Joy in your Heart
Check your emotional energy levels
Take your emotional temperature
Do something wonderful for yourself
Make sure you sure getting healthy touch and emotional support
Exercise, eat and sleep well

Rekindling Love for the other Parent
Remember the kids need to love him or her
Find a way to show extra kindness
Forgive where and when you have not
Plan for the kids to buy the other parent, and their stepparent, a present

Rejecting the Commercial Trap
Make and live on a holiday budget
Don’t expect or guilt the other parent into what to buy
Ask for help form the other parent only if appropriate ? no set ups!

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Explain consumerism and it’s effects to the kids
Grieve your hopes and dreams for Christmases
Thank God for what you have, not what you don’t

Reenlisting Your Toy Soldiers
Give the gift of self esteem ? let your kids help
Put them to work -Assign tasks and give rewards
Give them your own Christmas list
Get family Thank You Cards ahead of time
Give them a budget and let them buy or make presents

Replenishing the Christmas Cookie Jar
Make this a day long event
Invite their friends
Play music
Give some away

Repairing the Hurting Hearts
Pay attention to warning signs
Send kids to bed early
Take time to hug, hold, talk and wipe away tears
Don’t dismiss or overindulge feelings
Ask and listen
Let Go

Rejoicing with Friends and Family
Invite family over
Plan at least one dinner with extended family
Ask for the “present” of a friend to take your kids
Give yourself permission to avoid get togethers when you are still raw

Relighting the Lamp of Faith
Read scripture
Ask others to pray for your family
Put the kids to bed, turn on hymns and meditate on Gods; love for you
Put a present under the tree for Him
Praise Him
Thank Him
Look forward to next year


Copyright © 2001 Hendrickson Publishers. Used with Permission.

Adapted from Rose Sweet’s book, Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce.

Rose is a popular guest on national radio and television shows such as “Parent Talk” with Randy Carlson and “Life Today” with James Robison. She’s also been featured as a relationship expert on NBC’s daytime television talk show “The Other Half”.

Rose has written for Focus on the Family’s “Single Parent” magazine, is a featured columnist on several e-zines, and has authored five books including “Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce” and “Dear God, Send Me a Soul Mate”.

At conferences and retreats,Rose brings messages of hope, healing and real life humor. In the summer of 2003 her keynote message at Notre Dame, “Sex and the Single Divorced Christian” brought laughter and tears to men and women alike and changed forever their views of love and relationship.

In addition to writing and speaking, Rose provides pastoral counseling in weekly recovery groups to men and women who are in all stages of divorce. For more information on Rose or her speaking availability, visit her website at