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Cultivating Connection Over a COVID Christmas


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Seasonal


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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Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico where they lived for 15 years. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised eleven children.


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