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When Christmas Changes



It’s Christmastime. There’s love and joy and peace in the air. The tree is decorated, the nativity scene is on display. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Anticipation is everywhere.


Except at your house.


At your house, you are feeling stress. Your spouse has changed his views about Christmas. You are not sure what Christmas is going to look like in this new situation. You’ve always enjoyed the fun and religious aspects of the holiday, but now your spouse has different ideas.


With a faith crisis, there are many different ways someone may go:

  1. Your spouse may still love Christmas and believe in Jesus Christ, even though he doesn’t believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints anymore.

  2. He may see Christmas as a nice tradition of kindness and generosity. 

  3. He may think Christmas is a ridiculous tradition and that the whole western world is trying to force him to believe in Jesus. 

  4. Or some variation of one of these

How you celebrate Christmas will be unique to the level of belief and tolerance at your home. If you’ve got a spouse still on board with Christmas, this post probably isn’t for you. Go enjoy all the wonderful things you still have in common.


On the other hand, if you are finding it challenging to get through this Christmas season with your spouse, let’s look at some ways to handle that.

If your spouse still enjoys or tolerates Christmas on the surface level, it is usually best to focus on the things you have in common:

  1. Focus on the shared values – kindness, generosity, love, and joy.

  2. Look for traditions that you can continue to share – giving gifts, filling stockings, “adopting” a family for Christmas, decorating, or eating certain foods.

  3. Create new traditions that meet both of your needs at Christmas – the traditions may be less Christ-focused, but they can still be family and love focused.

  4. Find thoughts, poems, stories that can be shared to set the mood if your spouse is opposed to the scriptural readings.

If your spouse is really opposed to Christmas, you may find that Christmas is changing from a family tradition to a personal tradition. That can be a challenging step for you. It’s okay to feel sad and mourn the loss of the traditions you once had and the hopes you had for the future. It’s also okay to create personal traditions and rituals that help you feel good at Christmas-time.


Some ideas that might help anchor you to your Christmas joy:

  1. Choose or make a new ornament that, in your mind, represents your commitment to Christ.

  2. Do the daily prompts from Light the World

  3. If your spouse isn’t interested in decorating the tree, invite the sister missionaries to your home (probably when your spouse isn’t there – depends on your situation) to help. They probably miss their family Christmas traditions as well.

  4. Do your own daily Christmas devotional or scripture reading.

  5. Listen to Christmas music in your car alone or with your children.

Whether your spouse’s faith crisis is brand new or you’ve been living with this for many years, Christmas time can be a challenging time. We have so many expectations of ourselves, others, and society in general. Ultimately, the reason you want your spouse to participate in certain traditions, say certain things, and behave in specific ways at Christmas-time is that you want to feel the spirit of Christmas. The great news is that you can create that spirit in your own heart no matter what he chooses. Your thoughts about Christmas create what Christmas is to you. What would it feel like to let go of some of your expectations of your husband in order to create the Christmas spirit for yourself?


In the end, Christmas is about celebrating Christ. Jesus Christ is not so much concerned with our decorations or traditions as he is with our hearts. He knows the intent of your heart and desires that it “not be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) As the angels announced when he was born, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” (Luke 2:14, emphasis added), and as Christ promised before he died, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27, emphasis added), peace is what Christ desires for you, for me, for your children, and for your spouse. 


Will you let His peace into your heart and home? Despite the changes, and the mixed emotions you may be feeling about them, what can you do to let Christ into your heart and create peace there this year? What can you do to share the peace of God that is in your heart? How can you create the Christmas feeling you want in yourself? 


It is my wish for you that you will be able to create the Christmas spirit in your heart no matter what your circumstances may be. As we are always wished at the end of a Tabernacle Choir broadcast, “May peace be with you, this day and always.”


Merry Christmas!

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