Cultivating Connection Over a COVID Christmas

In this different kind of year, I’ve been working hard to stay connected to my family, friends, and the Lord. I’ve received a lot of trauma training because of my work with kids from hard places, and one of the truths I appreciate most when we experience difficult circumstances, is connection and presence brings healing.  My household could always use more healing, so I am looking for reasons to be present with each other.

Here’s our Guckenberger holiday game plan — I’m sharing it for both accountability and encouragement. May you experience extraordinary relationship this season.

  • Compete. I know it sounds counter the goal, but we will be playing lawn games, board games, card games, and football games… It provides the opportunity for healthy teasing, and team building. 
  • Chips and salsa. Here’s our recipe, it’s easy and reminds us of people and places we love. 4-6 red tomatoes, ½ onion, 2 jalapenos, salt, 1 bunch cilantro. Boil tomatoes, onion and jalapenos until soft. Blend in blender, adding cilantro and salt to taste.

  • Christmas movies. Sometimes they play in the background like music, but it adds to the festive spirit of the house. My favorite: It’s a Wonderful Life!
  • Cut-out cookies. It’s more like a craft you can eat, but anything that creates memories, can be a competition, and tastes great, is a win in our house. I pre-make the dough to have on hand, so when the mood strikes, it’s ready. 
  • Create a custom family Christmas playlist. This gives us a chance to express our uniqueness with each other. There is literally every category of music represented, but that just adds to the party. 
  • Church. Even masked, it feels more important than ever to gather with others and worship. 
  • Christmas caroling. Our kids mock us and pretend to hate it, but there would be rioting if we didn’t do it. Pro tip: put small kids up front, they are cute and distracting from any off-key singing! 
  • Capitalize on long-standing traditions. Since much has been different this year, making sure we ice skate, or eat a meal downtown, or go to the movies on Christmas night feels extra important.
  • Carry someone’s burden. We want to reinforce our family’s cultural value of generosity, so we’ll be on the lookout for opportunities to serve. 
  • Chill. It’s been a rough year, with disappointment, sprinting, and plenty of pivots, so rest is more important than ever before!

Your game plan might look wildly different, but I encourage you to have one. This is not a year for us to be on auto-pilot, it’s a year for redemption. I want all this season has for me and will press into relationship through listening and play with those in my family. Merry Christmas!

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