Christmas is a time of wonder, joy, and celebration. It can also be a time of busyness, stress, and loneliness. Alexandra Kuykendall addresses all of these feelings in her new book, Loving My Actual Christmas.
I love Christmas and I really look forward to it each year, but sometimes, while striving to make Christmas perfect, I can get overwhelmed and almost miss the true meaning of Christmas. Alexandra identifies two key contributors to Christmas related stress : expectations and disappointment in life’s circumstances. She correctly identifies women as the key “orchestrators” of Christmas. Whether it is from necessity or self-imposed, women are generally the leaders of the Christmas festivities; from the parties to the gifts and everything in between. It is understandable and almost predictable that in our desire to create the “perfect” Christmas for everyone we tend to get a little stressed out, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Loving My Actual Christmas is set up similar to Alexandra’s previous book, Loving My Actual Life. In both books, she chronicles her experiences in a combination of journal and how-to guide. Loving My Actual Christmas follows each week of Advent plus Christmastide (Christmas Day through the beginning of January). Each week has a theme, Bible readings, and advice on how to implement the joy of Christmas in the midst of life’s ups and downs. Alexandra also offers her personals goals for that week and shares what worked and did not work for her. It is an open and honest look at celebrating the perfect Son of God in this imperfect world.
I read straight through the book the week of Thanksgiving. I was already getting excited about Christmas, but this book made me look forward to it even more. I plan to go back and read it again for each week during Advent and Christmastide. While Loving My Actual Christmas is full of experiences and examples from Alexandra’s actual life, in each chapter she underscores the story of Jesus. She clearly points to the true reason to celebrate each Christmas. “There is a reason we remember this part of God’s story every year, no matter what is happening in our lives: because we need to hear it. We need to remember the ‘I love you’ and ‘I came in the middle of the mess’ in our own difficult circumstances and when life is going along just fine.”
Reading Loving My Actual Christmas has really helped me put the celebration of Christmas in the proper perspective. So even if things don’t go perfectly this Christmas—if the kids argue a little bit while decorating the tree or the dog tries to eat a Christmas ornament or two—I can still remember what the season is really about. The world needed a Savior and “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
As a member of the Baker Books Bloggers program, I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.