Here I am wanting to love my actual Christmas. To revel in the traditions. To celebrate the holiday. My mind starts going big and beautiful, equating loving Christmas with experiencing the best Christmas ever! You know, of the epic variety. But coming off a week of dealing with the reality of hope and expectation I recognize those feelings and thoughts and call them out. No, loving my actual Christmas has to do with celebrating the midst of the grief or the tight budget or the circumstances I wouldn’t hope for.

Love as a noun can be described as strong affection or liking, something that elicits enthusiasm, God’s affection for humanity, and even a score of zero (tennis, anyone?). If I am to hold love, this is what it would look like: affection, enthusiasm, and even a score of zero – as in, maybe I won’t get much done on my to-do list.

There’s the whole “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He defines it. He holds it. And the most famous Bible verse of all: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

For God so love the world…he sent a baby.

I know my babies were heaven sent. When I held them, cradled them and examined their toes, I knew I was experiencing the tangible miracle of new life. But this baby that changed the trajectory of humankind was different. He was God himself wrapped in the clothes of skin and bone. So it seems that love is key to the Christmas story. To the season.

And yet in the throes of Christmas shopping, baking, driving, and general doing, my enthusiasm can get tarnished; the shine of Christmas can dim. My “strong affection of liking” for this whole holiday begins to disappear. People I love are all around me and driving me a bit crazy. If I am wanting to love my actual Christmas, I must examine what it means to have affection, enthusiasm, and a zero-sum game of productivity and make my decisions from there.

As I move toward loving my actual Christmas I will take my cue for what love looks like in a tangible form from the various definitions my dictionary offers. To show affection to the people right in front of me. To experience a smidge of God’s love for me. I want to be more focused on enjoying the season than getting the to-do list done. But can I really when so much needs to happen that’s dependent on me to execute it?

It seems there are actions I can take to love others and experience God’s love that will push me toward loving this season as well. I do not want to resent what I cannot have. I want to focus on how God has shown me love through the gifts he has already provided. I resolve to celebrate what I am grateful for. To celebrate the very story, the Person, that is Christmas. My relationship with the baby in the manger is a love story that I can cling to. And when I do, I may just love all of the hoopla that surrounds this huge annual birthday party a little more too.

My Actual Approach:

+ Love the people around me through word and action

+ Take daily inventory of what I am grateful for

+ When given the choice between getting something done and enjoying the moment, I will take the moment.

How can you implement this approach into your Christmas season?


This is an excerpt from Alexandra Kuykendall’s book Loving My Actual Christmas (Baker Books, 2017). Alex lives in Denver with her husband Derek and their four daughters. Along with writing books, she co-hosts The Open Door Sisterhood podcast. Connect with her at