How to Have a Great Christmas During a Hard Year


I don’t want to overstate the obvious here, but 2020 has been a really interesting year. We’ve all faced a global pandemic, financial uncertainty, social unrest, political tension, and physical distance between our loved ones. I picture myself years from now telling my grandchildren epic stories of how we all survived the plagues of 2020. Celebrating Christmas in the midst of all of this might seem a bit awkward, but the truth is that we need this Christmas perhaps more than we’ve needed any other Christmas in our lifetimes.

Jesus came to the world as a baby two thousand years ago during a time of social and political chaos. He’s always been able to bring peace in the midst of chaotic circumstances. As we celebrate His birth this year, I believe He will bring peace to our homes even in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty happening all around us. Part of me is tempted to rush through Christmas to get to the finish line of 2020 as fast as possible in the hopes that 2021 will be a better year.

I do have high hopes for next year, but I think it would be a mistake for any of us to rush through this Christmas. I believe we need to savor it and celebrate it like never before. This year might look differently than you’d planned, but you can still have a great Christmas. In fact, I believe it could be one of your best and most memorable. Here’s a checklist of ten simple ways to help you keep your marriage and family strong all season long:

1. Reset your expectations.

Some of your family traditions and family gatherings might have to look different this year, and that’s okay. You might not be able to physically see everyone you’d like to see this year and that’s okay too. You might not be able to afford all the gifts you’d like to buy, and that’s no problem. Give yourself a lot of grace.

2. Keep a “no drama” policy.

The holidays can put you around some relatives who might love “drama” and they’ll try to pull you into it. Choose to rise above. Diffuse it with laughter and joy. It might be a good time to take a break from political conversations and consuming too much bad news. Put on some Christmas music or some funny Christmas movies and give yourself permission to lighten up and laugh. A healthy family should always have more comedy than drama!

3. Be a peacemaker.

Christmas, after all, is celebrating the birth of “The Prince of Peace.” Follow Jesus’ example and work to promote peace in your home and with your extended family. Offer love and respect to people even when they don’t deserve it. Don’t treat your family the way they treat you. Treat them the way God treats you.

4. Stick to a budget on gifts.

This year has hit most of us financially, so don’t add unnecessary financial stress by overdoing it on gifts. Your family doesn’t need more gadgets and clothes as much as they need you to be at your best. Give thoughtful gifts, not expensive gifts.

5. Be present.

Fight the temptation to escape into your smartphone instead of engaging in conversation. It’s possible to be in the same room but in a different world from your loved ones. Be fully present and actively participating in the moments. Make memories, not regrets.

6. Start some new traditions.

Since this year probably isn’t going to look like Christmases in the past, it’s the perfect time to start some new traditions. Get creative. Have fun. Talk with your spouse and family about something new you’d like to do together this year.

7. Don’t neglect your marriage.

Don’t put your marriage on the back burner through this season. Share the moments together, and make time alone together a priority. Plan some holiday-themed date nights, and be intentional about spending time with your spouse. We have some great tools to help you stay connected at

8. Don’t neglect your health.

I love to eat, but when I gorge myself on ice cream and turkey legs for a month, I pay the price! A lack of exercise and a ton of calories end up making me grumpy and sleepy. Enjoy the good food, but don’t go crazy. And, find time to get in some exercise. You’ll feel better. You might also want to go ahead and preorder our new book Naked and Healthy to get a jumpstart on healthy habits in 2021! You can learn all about it at

9. Have fun!

Refuse to allow stress to steal your joy. Give yourself permission to push away from the stress and enjoy the moments. Have fun and make beautiful memories. Make sure laughter is part of your Christmas soundtrack this year.

10. Don’t forget the reason for the season.

The presents and food are awesome, but don’t forget to honor God who makes it all possible. Jesus is truly the reason for the season and as you invite “The Prince of Peace” into the center of your heart and home, His peace will guard and guide you through Christmas and all year long. Keeping your focus on Him has a way of bringing everything else into its proper place.

We are praying many blessings for your marriage and family this Christmas season and beyond!

Share this article: