Archives for Christmas

12 Secrets to Taking the ANGST Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering

(How NOT to Drive Your Kids Away at Christmas!)

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, indeed, but smoldering beneath the festive twinkle lights, there seems to be a pervasive sense of unhappiness associated with family holiday gatherings. Do you hear what I hear? Scores of adult kids don’t want to go home for the holidays. Is Christmas without you, your adult child’s wish this year? Sadly, this is a common circumstance, and far too many parents are none the wiser.

As a recently inducted ‘empty nester,’ being surrounded by my brood is truly all I want for Christmas, and I intentionally employ a few principles to ensure I don’t have a blue Christmas without them.

Here are some precious gifts of wisdom I’ve acquired over time during my personal journey as a mom. Please unwrap them with care, take them to heart and enjoy a new dimension of peace and joy with your loved ones this holiday season…

1.  Parents, remove your expectations — Expectations create angst in relationships. Begin the holiday season by erasing all expectations from everyone involved this year. Now folks, I could stop right there, but for some of you dyed-in-the-wool, traditional types, I will elaborate…


2.  Put the kibosh on the dreaded adult gift exchange — Every kiss does not begin with Kay® and most of us don’t need any additional material possessions, so why not eliminate this habitual pain in the Christmas arse from your adult family festivities and see what results? No debt, no ‘perfect gift search’ anxiety, no miserable lines at the mall, no competition, no wrapping, no returns, no shame.

A healthy relationship to my children and their presence in my life is the ‘present’ I most long for and the gift I’m willing to pay the price to realize.

Without a drumroll or an attitude, let the kids know you’re not expecting (there’s that word again!) a thing, would prefer no gifts for Christmas, and you’d rather they spend their hard-earned dough on something they need. And if you still want to bless them with a few crisp greenbacks or that perfect item you’ve had your eye on for them, feel free! Just don’t drop any hints beforehand.


3. Set the captives free — Hovering parents, take note. You are likely not in touch with your obsessive nature to micro-manage every detail, thus smothering your brood. We must address our tendency to control if we want to leave room for our kids to function in freedom.

If there isn’t freedom in our presence, they will run and hide, not just at the holidays, but every single day of the year. When Grandma got run over by a reindeer and the family was rejoicing, me thinks she was of a domineering sort!


4. Beware the big chill — The temperature’s dropping all across the U.S. this time of year, but let’s make sure it’s not cold inside, too! Mama, your mood and attitude will set the tone whether it’s a warm glow of love emanating from the heart of your home, or a cold chill driving the kids away. Trust me, there’s a troll living under the bridge of every woman’s soul. We have to work hard at resisting her desire to manifest. Don’t find yourself the subject of this song…

You’re a mean one, Mrs. Grinch

You really are a heel.

You’re as cuddly as a cactus,

And as charming as an eel.


5. Reign in your inner ‘foodie’ — Yes, we are a culture of foodies, but if we try too hard, applying pressure to those involved to make everything perfect to our satisfaction, the joy can be lost. So if Junior forgets his assigned ingredient and you don’t have those farm-raised, organic, non-GMO chestnuts roasting on an open fire this Christmas Eve, all is not lost! Pop some popcorn with a smile, and feast on love.


6. Redefine ‘family’- There are friends and acquaintances outside the Sacred Idolized Family Unit who are alone this Christmas, and would love to be included at your dinner table or other family festivities. Open your heart and your home to welcome ‘outsiders’ who are on you or your kids’ hearts. I find, more often than not, the presence of that widowed neighbor, single Army dude or the kids’ roomie enhances our together times and adds a dimension we hadn’t expected. Ask your kids, “Is there anyone you’d enjoy having with us over the holidays?” and see if you can joyfully accommodate their request in some form or fashion.


7. Respect the fact that your babies are grown-ups now — Your son’s in double digits buying his own toilet paper and paying for his own gas. It’s no longer your job to make him write a thank-you note to grandma, grandpa, auntie or uncle for the gifts. It’s not your responsibility, and quite frankly, it’s none of your business.


8. Cancel your married kids’ dreaded marathon— The last thing I’d want to do on Christmas day is drive across town thrice, fighting traffic and yelling at the tired munchkins in the backseat. ‘Twil not make the season bright! Why then do we expect this of our adult children?? Remove the presssuurrrre, mom and dad.

Relieve the kids of all responsibility to see you on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Did hell just freeze over? Was that blasphemy? No, but my kids want to be with me during the holidays, so maybe you should stop judging and keep reading.

My married children routinely alternate holidays with the opposite sides of the family. I’m not offended and I don’t pout. It’s not about you, Mama and Daddy, or one single last chance, this-calendar-day-only, holiday. It’s about goodwill and family and serving one another in love and just to key you in, much of the bending and serving is historically done by us — that’s why we’re the parents!


9. Remember that relationships are more important than traditions— Is it time to let go a few of your stubborn traditions? Last Thanksgiving, we (GASP!) cooked and ate our entire ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving feast a day early for the benefit of all parties involved. It was remarkably peaceful, freeing, and we all had a keen sense of wicked satisfaction the next day, thinking of you stressing out over your turkey temperature as we peacefully heated leftovers, played games and let football run all day on the big screen.

Some years we’ve eaten holiday dinners at a restaurant…I know you’re shaking your head, but it was fabulous, easy and fun. Then we drank egg nog lattes and played board games at a coffee shop before we headed to a movie.

Traditions can be comforting and therapeutic to the soul, unless they become lifeless laws, sucking our joy.


10. Quash all judging, critiquing and perfecting— Is a silent night exactly what your kids need from you this Christmas? Bite your tongue, folks. Repeat. Maybe even get the tattoo. Do you think I’m kidding?!

And while you’re at it, watch your voice tones, helpful suggestions, glares, rolling eyes and all the other tools you use to serve up a side of guilt with that prime rib dinner, giving the whole crew serious indigestion. I’m laughing out loud now, but it’s really not funny if it’s true.


11. Ban family gossip — So your kid smokes and it smells and you’re embarrassed. And their Facebook posts curl Grandma’s hair. Well grandma’s fat and you overspend and worry too much about what everyone else thinks.

Each of us is flawed.

What’s worse, people pleasing, cigarettes, donuts or debt? If you want to be legalistic about it, the consequences of eating poorly will kill more people this year than the effects of smoking cigarettes. Fact. And encouraging gossip amongst the tribe is divisive and destructive to your family. So put that in your pipe and smoke it with your holiday ham!


12. Let all that you do, be done in love — Love isn’t a feeling or a sentimental idea. Love is costly. It is kind and patient and longsuffering and sacrificial. My love as a parent compels me to place the best interests of my children and grandchildren above my own perceived needs, without expecting anything in return. A merry little Christmas with my contented, affectionate kids always trumps a grand affair with no love.

If this is your modus operandi each day of the year, and you work in these very practical ways at cultivating your priceless relationships with your children, I guarantee you’ll find spontaneous celebrations occurring throughout the year that rival any Christmas day you’ve experienced.


Meet Denise

Denise Mira, author of No Ordinary Child:  Unlocking the Leader Within Your Child  is the mother of five sons, three daughters-in-law and grandmother to six (so far!). Denise home schooled her sons for over 2 decades. Now to her great joy, her grandchildren are being home educated. Denise has traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally, inspiring change as she shares the message God has given her for families. Find her blog at Reach her at

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Everyone’s Christmas is Broken…

Stuck in traffic yesterday, I found myself pondering the visual of a Norman Rockwell Christmas; snowflakes falling, twinkle lights glowing, gleeful children, stockings hung, all to the crooning of Bing Crosby on the phonograph.

As the scene played out in my mind, I secretly wished for simpler days when Christmas was Christmas, doggone it, and my Facebook feed wasn’t a bi-polar melange of Pinterest’s festive snow globes interspersed with more ‘Tainted in Tinseltown #MeToo’ headlines, and ‘How to Survive the Next Economic Meltdown,’ rolling in-between InstantPot ads and tragic ‘Paris is on fire!’ updates.

But then I considered the very first Christmas in Galilee…and I was filled with hope.

Don’t kid yourself, it wasn’t a pretty sight. There was Mary, the ‘mother of Christmas,’ so to speak, 9 months preggo and presumably a bundle of emotions leaving all her familiar surroundings and peeps at her most vulnerable moment.

She was riding on a freakin’ donkey (ugh), with her main squeeze, Joseph, unemployed, thus, odds-on edgy and irritable, trudging along next to her, making the lonely 3-day trek to Judea as an unmarried, extremely controversial, low-income, expectant couple.

All the above because The. Man. had issued a daunting decree to ensure that all humans in the Empire had been counted by Roman officials for the express purpose of extorting their hard-earned dollars through taxation, compelling them to report to their historical tribal cities. (now you’re getting the ugly picture, right?)

Mary and Joseph had apparently not read the fine print.

Of course they’d had the benefit of an initial angelic visitation months before all this went down, but let’s be real…goosebumps fade over time.

They arrived in Bethlehem where they found no welcoming committee, not even a BED to sleep in, no sense of miraculous intervention as Mary birthed their miracle baby on a pile of hay in a mini-barn reeking of manure with Old MacDonald’s farm looking on and not a midwife in sight.



Heavenly confirmations did at last arrive, in the form of a spectacular star overhead, angels singing, keyed-in shepherds and Magi bringing gifts along with talking animals. (just kidding on that last point)


I can almost hear Joseph exhaling (more goosebumps) and being reminded that Almighty God, not The. Man. was in charge of things. He would need that reassurance for the lonnggg journey ahead.


And so we find the first Christmas complete with an unwed mama, poverty, a step-dad, homelessness, fears galore, government control never before realized, and out-of-control taxation — just like every Christmas since.

And something about that brings us reassurance in our human condition, especially when we consider the upgrade: instead of Mary carrying the Christ child physically on a donkey, we now carry the Savior in our hearts, by faith.

Yes, as cliche as this might sound, Jesus is still the Reason for the Season.

I’d be lost without Him. He is the anchor of my soul, a very present help in time of trouble, the axis on which my world spins. Correction. He is my world.

I daily peel away the Santa Songs, the sentimental holiday ‘feels,’ the tree, the presents, the garland, the food, and I revisit the Christ of Christmas. 

And those of us fortunate enough to know Him…it’s up to us to make the season bright for those who can only see the brokenness; to help bring the revelation of the Christ child to them.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11–12

Wishing you and yours a very Merry and REAL Christmas 2018!

And for an IMMEDIATE upgrade amongst your brood, grab my FREE Holiday Gift, ’12 Secrets to Taking the Angst Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering!’ Pure GOLD from my experience as a mom of adult kids. You’ll get it, too, when you sign up HERE ….


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Destiny Under Siege – Welcome to 2018!

Happy New Year!

Many in the US have been busily ‘packing up Christmas’ today. You, too? 🙂 The familiar site of storage boxes, lights, stockings, garland strewn and vacuums running madly, all highlight our sense of nostalgia at the retirement of yet another Christmas holiday season and the simultaneous welcome of a new year.

Many have dismantled the Nativity Set – the official memorial of the holy holiday’s raw and real inception. Whether Playmobil, plywood or Porcelain…we all reflect tenderly as we gingerly retire the tiny baby Jesus, the manger filled with hay and the obligatory cast of characters found in the barn that historic night…Mary, Joseph, the humble shepherds, the singing angel, the barn animals and in some instances the three Wisemen, dressed to the nines, (although an historically accurate depiction would place the Magi visiting the youngster Jesus later on history’s timeline, not in the barn) which led me to recall how one vital character has been left out of the traditional cast over time, but whose significance bears intentional pause and reflection….

I speak of King Herod the Great, a main player in the biblical account of the Christmas story, visited by the three Wisemen who sought the Christ Child after his birth in the stable.

Herod tried to trick the Magi into revealing the child’s location in Bethlehem on their way home from their sojourn to worship the newborn king, but they were warned in a dream to avoid Herod, so they returned to their countries by another route.

King Herod, furious at being foiled by the esteemed wise men in his attempt to find this promised child wrapped in rags whom Mary, a mere peasant girl had borne, did the unthinkable. He ordered the slaughter of all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem and its vicinity.
(Matthew 2:1-18 paraphrase)


This evil, insecure king, this biblical terrorist, longed to snuff out the infant king Jesus before he had time to grow and become, rule and reign to save the world. And this my friends, is a principle of note.

Destiny is always under attack.
Wherever you find Destiny, you find a Herod, intent on annihilation.

For as many as awaited the birth of the Savior, Christ the Lord, what makes some people happy makes other people rage.

This is where it hits home. Because YOU, no matter how you may feel on this first day of 2018, are not an insignificant nobody, born only to eat, sleep, work, watch Netflix, pay taxes and die.

You are a precious creation, a living breathing miracle, uniquely gifted, specifically wired, born to have an impact, born to make a difference in history’s timeline.

Destiny is over your head and as you square off with a brand new calendar year, remember that Destiny is always challenged, resisted, attacked even, so don’t be easily discouraged in your efforts to pursue your dreams and fulfill the vision you have for your life and the lives of those precious to you. Gird yourself for battle. You may reflect with pain upon the past, but change is possible in the new year!

An angel again appeared to Jesus’ stepfather, Joseph, in a dream, warning him to flee to Egypt with his young family to escape Herod’s intentions. (Matthew 2:13 paraphrase)

Another principle of note.
God watches over destiny.


[Sidenote: We might even consider placing King Herod in the shadows next year, watching over the Nativity from a distance through slanted eyes with black heart, just to remind us of the power of destiny.]


I’m passionate about the destiny factor in our lives and the lives of those precious to us, and I look forward to the privilege of encouraging you as you journey into 2018. Thank you for reading, and if you enjoy my posts, consider subscribing so as not to miss out – as a thank you, for a limited time, you’ll receive my two free e-books!

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