10 Steps to Enjoy the Holidays without Regrets. Holidays with family can stir up all kinds of emotions. For some it’s a time of gift giving and thankful reflection. For others it means stressful family gatherings or a grievous reminder of loved ones lost. As holidays approach let’s look at 10 steps you can take as you prepare to celebrate in without regrets.
1. Realize the value of remembering God’s faithfulness.
In Joshua chapter four the Israelites were able to cross over the Jordan because God stopped the waters. As they crossed Joshua instructed leaders to pick stones to build a monument to God’s faithfulness.
Although Israel had witnessed miracles, God knew their propensity to forget, so He instructed Joshua to pick up stones from the very river He’d stopped as a memorial to their children of His faithfulness.
Not only was the monument to remind Israel and their decedents to fear The LORD their God forever, it would also serve as a testimony to all the people of the earth that He is the mighty, one true God (Joshua 4:1-24). God’s works were not only for Israel, they were also His way of making Himself known to all nations.
Remember when the spies entered Jericho and Rehab the Harlot hid them? She said, “I know the the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you…” (Joshua 2:9-11) [emphasis added].
When God shows up in mighty ways it builds our faith. We should learn from God’s instruction to remind ourselves, our children and the watching world that He is the one true God.
This Thanksgiving don’t forget the miraculous way God intervened into the affairs of men to establish our great nation. This Christmas remember how God gave His Son Jesus to save us from our sins.
2. Expect something will not go as planned. For one holiday meal I made the sweet potatoes I make every year. After I placed marshmallows on top and popped it in the oven, I got distracted so the marshmallows burned to a crisp. I was disappointed in myself for the blunder, but laughed at my carelessness while carefully peeling off the layer of scorched marshmallows.
We live in the country so that means we’re not on city water or septic. One year when the whole family and extended family were visiting our septic tank decided to not work! I could go into disgusting details of what that entails but suffice it to say the whole family was forced to do their business outside in a makeshift outhouse.
For the city slickers in the family this type of roughing it was almost too much for them to handle. But as we all laughed about the poor timing of the catastrophe we survived the weekend no worse the wear.
And today that mishap is one of our funniest holiday memories. Often it’s those unexpected trials that actually knit together the hearts of a family as they work together to survive the crisis.
“The trial is wasted if we respond
to the difficulty with anger or discouragement”
Rather, realize your trial may not be about you. Our kids learn best how to manage life’s ups and downs not by what we tell them, but by how they see us respond.
If our kids see us:
• work together in crisis
• turn our eyes onto Christ for wisdom and strength
• fight for joy and make the best of a bad situation
this will become their “normal”. And when life throws them a curve ball – and it will – their natural response will likely be to mimic how they’ve observed your response.
3. Deal with any unresolved feelings or unforgiveness.
Family coming together for the holidays can be a time of joy but also a time of conflict. For some, the obligatory family time brings to the surface past unresolved conflicts or painful experiences. While you cannot do anything about “that” relative who regularly disappoints you, you can do something about your own heart.
If you are a believer, then Christ’s Spirit indwells you. Therefore you have been granted the power to break free from the bondage of an unforgiving heart. When you come to realize that your sin of resentment or unforgiveness is just as ugly in God’s eyes as whatever wrong someone was done to you, then you’re ready to repent and ask God to help you lay at the cross whatever hurt feelings you’re carrying around.
One piece of advice I’ve heard my pastor/husband give to many people is “Don’t expect them to be like you.” If your parent has never nurtured you the way you nurture your own kids or if none of your guests help you clean up after the meal realize they’re not like you. Be thankful that the Lord has opened your eyes to love and serve with His love, and ask Him to shine brightly through you as you choose to serve Christ while you cover with love the disappointments you might see in your family.
4. Set up boundaries when necessary. While it is crucial to your own spiritual growth and peace of mind that you refuse to hold animosity toward someone, it’s also important to realize when it’s time to set up boundaries to keep peace in your family. If a particular family member insists on being belligerent, regularly drinks too much and spoils the day, it’s appropriate to outline the boundaries if you are hosting the holiday in your home.
If over indulgence in alcohol has spoiled your family gatherings, have the courage to ask your guests to not bring alcohol to your event. If they are offended you can explain to them that you care for them and would love to have them at your celebration but since alcohol is often the catalyst for a disaster you’ve decided it’s not welcome at your party.
For us, when our kids were growing up, we did not want our children around adults consuming alcohol––in excess or not.
There is so much #alcoholism in my family
that we were deeply convicted we should not
expose our kids to social drinking.
I know others may have thought we were being too extreme, but when it comes to our kids we relied on the leading and conviction of the Spirit––rather than the pressure from family who might have mocked us for our stance.
5. Prepare your holiday meal menu early and shop ahead of time. When the holidays are approaching you may be having a little anxiety about all of the extra work it involves to host the meal.
While it is fun to try out new recipes, realize the extra pressure you may be putting upon yourself to attempt a difficult soufflé amidst the hubbub of peeling potatoes, basting the turkey, and all of the other details involved in preparing a feast.
Prepare as much as you possibly can before the big day. Did you know you can peel potatoes early and keep them soaking in water in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cut and boil them? Mind blown––right? (Or am I the only one on the day who is scrambling to get the potatoes peeled and on the stove in a timely manner?)
Enlist the help of others. It’s a good idea to ask your guests to bring their favorite side dish. If you’re only focused on the turkey, potatoes, gravy––and your favorite signature side dish you’ll find you’re less stressed and will enjoy the day all the more, which in turn will bless your family far more than eating a perfect meal under stress.
Consider this wise counsel from Proverbs 15:7:
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted calf with hatred.
6. Let peace begin with you. Romans 12:18 offers this advice, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
From this verse I get the impression the Apostle Paul is saying, “Hey, I get it. People are difficult, you can’t control that. But what you can control–with God’s help–is how you respond to people. So choose to live peaceably with everyone.”
Peaceable people raise peaceable people.
If you want to raise a generation who learns to choose peace––let it begin with you,
in your home, and at your family functions. Let it begin with you.
7. Think the best about others. First Corinthians 13:7 says, “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Believes all things means to believe the best about the other person.
When you interact with family during the holidays:
• ask God to give you His love for them.
• ask Him to help you see them through His eyes
• ask God through you to offer them the same grace He has granted to you through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross.
8. Don’t assign wrong motives to peoples actions. When you choose to believe the best about others it will help you resist the temptation to assign wrong motives to their actions. And to cover with love when they don’t measure up to your expectations.
When someone offends you, cover it with love––Christ’s love. You never know, maybe God is allowing the situation so that your Christlike response will be the catalyst He can use to draw them to a genuine relationship with His Son.
9. Fight for joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” If this was Nehemiah’s battle cry to Israel as they worked to rebuild the wall while fighting off their enemy then I believe this is the battle cry for our families as well.
If you find yourself grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season, my heart is with you. I miss mother most during the holidays. Let the tears fall when they come. Share with family your favorite memories of the one who has passed. And know that even in grief, His joy can be your strength.
Life is wonderful, and fun, difficult and hard. But like my husband says in our book The Marriage Mentor, “This is life for all of us.”
It’s the people who fight for joy amidst the trials who find strength to stand.
And their joy will be a light that shines the love of Christ to a generation
who is desperately looking for hope
10. Express gratitude. This holiday season when you gather around the table, make it a point to turn off the television and cell phones. Encourage your family to speak of God’s faithfulness in your lives.
Choose a few verses from the Bible. If you have time, consider writing the verses on place cards and invite each guest to read their verse aloud. Follow this link to find thanksgiving Bible verses. For Christmas read aloud the Christmas Story from the Bible before opening gifts.
Whether you’re hosting a holiday meal or spending it alone don’t lose site of the point of the holiday.
- Thanksgiving is a memorial of gratitude to God that we must pass from generation to generation.
- Christmas is a celebration of God’s incredible gift of redemption and mercy offered to mankind through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son.
Keep your focus on God and His unbelievable grace and kindness in your life. Count your blessings and thank God for His providential hand throughout history. Know that God’s in control and no one can thwart His plans. The same LORD who held back the Jordan for Israel is the One who works mightily on your behalf, if you humbly walk in obedience to Christ.
As God continues to accomplish His plan through the ages, you can trust Him to make Himself known among the nations for His Kingdom and His glory. This holiday season what if you made this your goal too? If you apply these ten principles to help you shine brightly the hope of Christ this holiday season I’m pretty sure you’ll have no regrets.
Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than 30 years experience of helping women build no regrets lives. I could have listened to Rhonda talk all night, is what women say about Rhonda’s enthusiastic,humorous, transparent teaching, and zeal as an evangelist. She’s committed to fulfill the Titus 2:4 commission by mentoring, teaching and writing books that are inspiring, grounded in Scripture and easy to read––like you're visiting with a friend over coffee. Rhonda is the author of 7 books and appears on numerous radio programs including: Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk, & hosts The No Regrets Hour. She’s an evangelist and speaker at women’s events, College Women’s Chapel, Pastor’s Wives Conferences, MOPs and Homeschool Conventions. Sharing the gospel at her NoRegretsWoman Conference is her sweet spot. Rhonda is a regular contributor for Crosswalk and many other magazines. Rhonda ministers alongside her husband Steve, who for 20 years has pastored First Baptist Church of Patterson, California. They live out their own Real Life Romance writing books and speaking at their No Regrets Marriage Conferences, but their favorite ministry is their family. They have four grown children and 10 grandchildren. To learn more about Rhonda’s speaking topics, watch her teaching and to book Rhonda for your next event visit: NoRegretsWoman.com Bonus: Watch this fun video of Steve & Rhonda sharing their own Real Romance story.