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Simplifying and De-Stressing Your Holidays

Air Date 11/19/2014

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Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer share practical suggestions for simplifying and taking the stress out of the holiday season. 

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Episode Transcript


Jim Daly: John, Thanksgiving is next Thursday. Are you set?

John Fuller: I'm ready to go, Jim.

Jim: You've got everything out of the garage?

John: No. (Laughter) Just ready to go.

Jim: Okay, you and I are in the same boat. But let me ask one of our guests, Karen, should we be stressed or excited?


Karen Ehman: Well, probably a little bit of both, but I think if we can learn to think ahead, be a little bit organized, we can help the stress to kinda go out of the way, and instead of stressing at the holidays, we can learn to do some blessing instead.

Jim: That sounds good.

End of Teaser

John: Well, that really is the key for so many of us. We want to enjoy that time together as a family, that down time. And today on "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly, you'll hear more about that. I'm John Fuller and we're gonna center on the upcoming holiday season. We have author and speaker, Karen Ehman and her colleague, an author and speaker in her own right, Glynnis Whitwer.


Jim: John, Karen and Glynnis joined us toward the beginning of the summer and we talked about just holiday celebrations at that time, but all of 'em, you know, spanning the calendar I guess you could say. This time we want to concentrate on Thanksgiving and Christmas, because they're the biggies, aren't they?

John: They are.

Jim: (Laughing) And we want to talk about all the things you can do to make it very special. Together they've written a book called Everyday Confetti, which is full of ideas and recipes to inspire your own celebrations. Now are you ready for some recipes?

John: Well, I'm thinking, Jim, here we are, two guys, we (Laughter) brought in two ladies who are experts in this.

Jim: Are you kiddin' me? I totally consulted Jean for this program.

John: Oh, did you?

Jim: Yeah, I've asked her many questions that I'm gonna ask today on her behalf.

John: Well, good.

Jim: So, she wishes she could be here. When I told her we were doing this, she went, "Oh, I wanted to be involved with that one." But she had to take Trent and Troy to school, so let's get with it.

John: All right, well, Glynnis and Karen are both involved with Proverbs 31 ministries. Glynnis is the executive director of communications there and Karen is communication coordinator and they both write. They've got a number of books and they also blog and speak.

Jim: Last time, Karen and Glynnis, we were together, we talked in general, like I said, about celebrations of all sorts. This time we want to talk about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Generally, though, why is it important for us to celebrate these things?

Glynnis Whitwer: Well, you know, I think at this time of year, everybody's hearts are a little more open and we're a little more spiritually sensitive and open to the message that God might have for us. I think it's a great opportunity to take advantage of that and spend some time with our families, communicating our values, our thoughts and just really blending our hearts together as a family.

Jim: Let me ask it this way. So many and this gets right to it. This is Jean and me and I don't know, John, if this is you and Dena.

John: Oh, probably.

Jim: (Laughter) But especially Thanksgiving, it's like, oh, you know, okay and how do we get involved as men to support usually what our wives want to do. And then with Christmas, it's decorating. And …

John: Yeah, we have clearer roll …

Jim: Is that something you look forward to, John?

John: It seems that the role is clearer at Christmas, because--

Jim: Yeah.

John: --it's, "Hey, you do that."

Jim: Hang the lights.

John: And put that up and …

Jim: Get the tree.

John: Yeah.

Jim: All those kinds of good things.

John: But Thanksgiving, I will admit.

Jim: Now are these traditions, especially in the eyes of our children, how should we look at this? Talk to the dad and then talk to mom.

Karen: Well, I think it's so often the dads maybe it seems like they play a token role and all they're gonna do is carve the turkey maybe.

Jim: I feel like that.

Karen: Yeah, that sometimes happens. But think if we can learn to switch our focus from, even just focusing on our own family, even though that's the show we're on right now, but to get beyond just focusing on our own family, but really using the holidays as an excuse to make someone else's life better and learn to do some outreach. I think dad can really lead in that aspect of learning to be on the lookout for those less fortunate maybe in our circle of friends in our church, in our communities and really use the holidays as a way, as a family to band together and make someone else's life better. It'll give them a good role, rather than just carvin' the turkey.

Jim: Okay now, we gotta do a little confession time, because I think I do roll into the holidays. I love the celebration and Jean does such a brilliant job of decorating the home. And people that have come to our home for parties or something, especially during Christmas, they'll think, you know, who came professionally to decorate the house.

But how do I get over, as a husband, havin' that kind of, "Oh, my goodness; it's time to work." You know, you want to relax, too at the holidays. And so often I've got this bad attitude. Speak to us (Laughing), those of us like me. How can we just simply say, okay, I gotta get over it. I want to invest in my wife and have a good attitude at this time?

Glynnis: Well, you know, one of the things that we love to do at Thanksgiving is to pause and focus on what we're thankful for. And that's a great way for a dad to take the lead. Because it's so easy and I bet every parent out there's gonna connect with this idea, that our kids don't have as much gratitude as we wish they did. You know, you think, oh, my goodness. Stop comparing yourself with what everybody else has. Just focus on and be thankful for what we have, what you have and to cultivate that heart of gratitude, what a great place for a dad to step in.

Jim: What does that look like? Give me an example--

Glynnis: Well--

Jim: --sitting at the table.

Glynnis: What it looks like is at the table every night, let's pick one thing we're thankful for. Let's be very specific. You know, I'm thankful that I have tennis shoes to run in. So, we do a lot of mission work at our family, because we have children adopted from Africa, so our heart is with missions. And boy, when you see what other people don't have, you can be thankful for the littlest things in your life. And boy, that's what I want to sow into my kids. And my husband does a great with it, as well. I mean, let's focus and be thankful for the little things.

Jim: What about the historical perspective with Thanksgiving? How much time would you spend with your children talking about that during that week?

Karen: I think it's good to highlight the reason why you are celebrating the holiday, 'cause you know, so many times we get to a holiday and we think just because a certain greeting card may make you say that there is a special day that week that, that's why we're celebrating. It's just a money maker for the culture. But I think it is important to go back to the roots of why the holiday was established.

And so, for Thanksgiving, my goodness, in this day of age of Internet, there's so many resources out there that you could find to explain to the kids, you know, what it means or good books you could find that would tell the story to maybe younger ones.

Jim: So, use the opportunity to really explain what it's about.

Karen: Absolutely.

Jim: 'Cause it does seem that it gets a little thin.

Karen: Yeah

Jim: I remember one time we walked in, this was more of an Easter celebration, but we walked into a video store to get an Easter video and the clerk seriously did not know what Easter was about. She thought it was only about a bunny and eggs and she had no clue it was about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's the culture we're in today.

Karen: Uh-hm.

Jim: We certainly don't want our children to grow up not knowing the core intent of these holidays. What's the value of celebrating tradition?

Glynnis: Oh, tradition is a blessing for a family. You know, it doesn't take much for a kid for something to be a tradition. Like, you have pizza two Friday nights in a row, you've got a tradition of having pizza on Friday night.

Jim: Only two Fridays in a row.

Glynnis: That's all it takes in--

Jim: That's pretty good.

Glynnis: --my house, you know. You do something two times and it's a tradition. But what a tradition says to a child is, this is who we are. It's one of the best ways for parents to really build faith into children. It's because it establishes them, this is what our family does. This is my heritage. We value this as a family. And it's almost like sowing that into a child's life and their heart. And it carries with them. And so, these traditions that we start, we think, oh, this is just a fun little thing. Oh, it goes much deeper than that. There's a root that's growing in our children's' hearts when we do traditions.

Jim: When I talked to Jean about the program, I simply did ask her, you know, what does it mean to you? What are the things that you think about when you think about Thanksgiving and Christmas? She said something similar. She said, "You know, the reason tradition's important is, when I think about growing up in my mom and dad's house, it brought comfort." I found that to be an interesting perspective, that when these things roll around consistently and the family knows their place and what they're doing and what we're celebrating, it gives a child particularly, as sense of comfort, doesn't it?

Glynnis: It's like I belong here.

Jim: Yeah.

Glynnis: I have a place. And I think in our hearts, we all long for that place. And so, I mean, it's a gift to give our children and ourselves really. I mean, so many adults, they didn't have that growing up. And so, to establish your own traditions, it's almost like, okay, I'm gonna establish my place. I belong here and I'm accepted.

Jim: Now those traditions, they don't have to be stoic. You did something at Thanksgiving, I think about the meal, 'cause everybody thinks about Thanksgiving as the turkey and the potatoes and I don't know what you eat, John, fish?

John: Oh, it sounds (Laughter) very similar to your meal, Jim.

Jim: But you did something. You turned the meal upside down one year, didn't you?

Glynnis: Well, and I'll tell you, When I share this with a lot of people, they're like, I could never do that in my house.

Jim: Well, let's hear it.

Glynnis: If we don't have pumpkin pie. Well, we had gone to Colonial Williamsburg one year.

Jim: You got the full thing.

John: Oh, that's --

Glynnis: We loved it.

John: --that's a good place.

Glynnis: And I just fell in love with the whole colonial idea and I thought, could I? And I love cookbooks. And I bought a cookbook from Colonial Williamsburg and brought it back and talked all my family members into making recipes from the cookbook and we had a colonial Thanksgiving. And we loved it so much and my family's very good sports obviously, that the next year, I threw another theme out and we had, well, a Hawaiian theme. I got a[n] Hawaiian cookbook.

Jim: For Thanksgiving?

Glynnis: For Thanksgiving. (Laughter) So …

Jim: Did you like cook a pig? I don't know what does that mean--

Glynnis: Well--

Jim: --you did it Hawaiian? (Laughter)

Glynnis: --well, no, not what a …

Jim: A spit, is that what they call that? (Laughter) Out in your backyard you had the spit goin' and …

Glynnis: No.

Jim: Was it snowing?

Glynnis: Close … oh, I'm from Phoenix. I (Laughter) …

Jim: You just put the pig on the back porch and it--

Glynnis: So--

Jim: --cooked itself.

Glynnis: --we didn't go that far (Laughter). But I know not everybody could do that. There'd be mutiny in some homes--

Jim: Yeah.

Glynnis: --if (Laughing) you didn't have it.

Jim: What did the kids react? Do they …

Glynnis: Loved it.

Jim: Yeah, because it was--

Glynnis: But my kids--

Jim: --different.

Glynnis: --are used to that. I'm always trying and forcing them to something new.

John: So, is the tradition that you don't do a traditional Thanksgiving--

Glynnis: No.

John: --meal?

Glynnis: About every other year they let me do it, so then on the off years, we're back to the traditional.

Jim: Certain creative flair I guess-

Glynnis: But …

Jim: --in that respect.

Glynnis: Yeah.

Jim: But they probably do love it. But that's what I mean. Hold it a little loosely. Some people, I think Jean is more of a traditionalist. Like you said, she would go, "You did what?" You know, 'cause it's gotta be the turkey, etc. Le t's transition to Christmas. What do people need to do to enjoy it and have less stress?

Karen: I think the No. 1 thing that has helped me and several of my friends and several of my readers is to really at the beginning of the Christmas season, set the family down and have a little time of reevaluating your holiday.

Jim: When is that, December 1st or 15th or when?

Karen: Maybe the weekend after Thanksgiving--

Jim: Okay.

Karen: --as soon as kinda you're putting away the leftover turkey and haulin' out those boxes from the attic or the basement. But I think so many times in our culture, we get caught up doing everything that is out there to do at the holidays and we think we need to do all of those traditions every year or our kids are gonna miss out. But so often, it just puts a lot more stress on the parents, especially mom--

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: --when we're running around, trying to do all of these traditions and we don't even really know if our family enjoys them. So, what I did about 10 years ago, is I sat my family down. I came up with this little survey and I asked them some different questions, like what are you favorite holiday foods and what ones could you live without? What are your favorite traditions and what ones are you not so keen on? Are there some ways maybe we could divvy up some of the holiday responsibilities so all of those tasks don't fall to mom?

Jim: Was that a blank space they filled in the answer?

Karen: Well, it was interesting, because as I started to really dig deeper, I discovered that there were some things I was doing that my kids did not care two hoots about, as my mama used to say.

Jim: But you did.

Karen: But I didn't even either. I thought they did.

Jim: Okay.

Karen: So, I thought that, well everybody is making homemade fruitcake or whatever. My family could live without fruitcake. Now I make a pretty good fruitcake. I actually have a friend who, her husband cannot imagine Christmas without fruitcake. And he pays me 40 bucks for fruitcake, to make--

Jim: All right.

Karen: --him two fruitcakes.

Jim: Now Karen, that was revelation--

Karen: That was …

Jim: --to you, that you didn't have to make the fruitcakes?

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: That shocks me.

Karen: Well, my grandma always made fruitcake and my mom always made fruitcake.

John: Oh.

Karen: So, I kinda thought--

John: It was a tradition.

Karen: --that's what we do in the Patterson family.

Jim: So, there's more than one fruitcake made. I thought there was just one made and it was passed from--

Karen: No.

Jim: --family (Laughter) to family.

Karen: No that is a myth. That is a myth. But I think just really helping to zero in on what speaks Christmas to our particular family and let the rest go, can really help.

Jim: Can I ask you, after doing the survey, 'cause that's really intriguing, did you find more participation in the preparation--

Karen: I did.

Jim: --for Christmas? You did.

Karen: I did, because we're--

Jim: So, people bought in. Your kids bought in.

Karen: --because we were now eating things and doing things that they selected. So, they were a lot more willing to jump in and help.

Jim: Give me an example of what that looks like.

Karen: Well, I know when we did this survey, I had this image in my mind that just all good moms made Christmas cookies from scratch. Rolled 'em out. Cut 'em out and baked them and decorated them with the kids, right? I thought that's what you did.

So, for probably the first 12 years of my parenting, we did that, and made a big ole mess in the kitchen every single year. But when we sat the kids down and we talked to 'em about it, we realized the only part they really liked was decorating them--

Jim: Oh, I thought you were gonna say the icing.

Karen: --the frosting.

Jim: Yeah. (Laughter)

Karen: Yeah, the frosting--

John: That is.

Karen: --and putting the sprinkles on or as the little silver but my kids call them BB's, my two boys—the BB's on the cookies.

John: Yeah, yeah.

Karen: So, what we decided to do was, I went to the local warehouse, superstore and bought already cut out, baked frozen cookies. It …

Jim: Dough.

Karen: Yeah … well, not even the dough. The cookies were already baked.

Jim: Wow.

Karen: And they were in the shape of--

Jim: So, you just decorate 'em.

Karen: --trees and bells and stars. And we still got to have the fun of decorating, but we didn't have all the mess of rolling 'em out, which I liked to do when I was little. Didn't like it as much as an adult now that there was a lot of clean up involved.

Jim: Let me ask you this question though, 'cause I can hear a lot of moms who just went, "Oh." What is it that gives that mom that feeling? Is it guilt? Why would a mom not choose that kind of efficiency? Is it simply because she wants to do it from scratch, because that's a way that she says, "I love you?"

Karen: I think so and I think in this day and age of Pinterest, which I love, I have a Pinterest account, but so often we see all these pictures of perfection parading before our eyes and we think we need to replicate all of those fancy foods to be a good mom, but we don't. It's spending time, doing something that speaks tradition to your family and it can be shortcuts; they really can.

Jim: Let me come back to the stress. A lot of times in the early part of December when we're talking about getting the house ready and the decorations, it really can become strife, because maybe the husband has some things he's got to do, whatever that might be. And his wife is beginning to write the list. You know, we need all the 400 boxes from the attic brought down (Laughter). And he's thinkin', well, I was gonna do all these other things this first weekend of December. And it can lead to a bit of a fight even, you know and "You're always telling me …" How can they take a deep breath and just manage it better?

Karen: I think just scaling back, re-evaluating, scaling back and then dividing and conquering. Decide who's gonna do what and help them … you know, be willing to help them in their task, but don't just sit around and expect that everyone else is going to do it.

Jim: Scaling back, define that for the moms and the dads. What does that look like, scaling back?

Karen: Well, I don't think you need to do every tradition every year in order to make memories for your kids. So, vary your ventures. Maybe one year, yeah, you make a homemade gingerbread house. But you don't have to do that every single year.

Or as far as decorations, I love decorating my house for Christmas, but there are some years my husband was just too strapped with work in December to do a lot of fancy things on the outdoor part of our house.

Jim: That's what we do.

Karen: So, sometimes I let my youngest who kinda is crazy is how he decorates things. It's all over the map, but I just say, you know what? I'm letting him participate. I don't care if it doesn't look like something out of a magazine or off of a Pinterest board. This year we're not gonna have everything perfect outdoors. We're just gonna let the youngest do it.

Jim: (Chuckling) Last year I had to tell Jean to stay inside the house, because Trent was up on the roof helping hang the Christmas ... outdoor Christmas lights and he was 13.

John: You have a pretty roof line there.

Jim: And yeah, we had a pretty ... we do have a high roof and so, I just told Jean, I said, "You do not come out of the house." 'Cause I knew if she'd come out, she'd say, "Why is he up there?" But he's far better at it than I am.

John: Uh-hm.

Jim: And so ... and he's courageous and it's time for him to go do that kind of work. But Jean would've really killed me if she saw what I did out there. So, that's okay, huh.

Glynnis: You know, one thing that perhaps might help is, before you even start on the practical side of Christmas, maybe take some time to focus on the spiritual side.

Karen: Uh-hm.

Glynnis: You know, one of the things that we love is, when we read the story of the birth of Jesus, is how calm Mary was and in the midst of the chaos, Mary was pondering and thinking things over. And so, maybe it would be good to really start with a new tradition of, let's spend some time reading the Christmas story and just praying as a family and thinking through some of the spiritual sides of it. And maybe that would help with … diffuse some of the stress of the holiday, as well.

Jim: Well, and one of the things that we've done and John, I'd love to hear what you and Dena do, but Advent is big.

Karen: Uh-hm.

Jim: Sometimes we have two or three Advent calendars going, 'cause they're all different. And one is a Lego Advent calendar. One is a heavily Christian theme Advent calendar. But it gives the children every night something to read and to experience. And that's been one of our traditions and we've done that since the children were like 2 and 3.

Glynnis: Well, and I think a lot of families feel like, okay, I don't do devotions all through the year. Am I gonna be a hypocrite if all of a sudden I make my kids sit down and do a devotion. And I … like I said earlier, I think our hearts are more open towards it. This is a great time to start with a family devotion time. I think even kids of all ages understand, this is something different about this season and it's okay. We'll try it this time.

John: Yeah, one of the challenges is, is as the children get older, their schedules get a little "whomper" and for us, Jim, we do a Sunday night Advent devotional time. There's so many good resources out there and we rotate through them, but it's difficult with the kids. I mean, sometimes we have to say, yeah, but I want you here at 6 o'clock Sunday and then you can go to whatever you need to do for studying or for social life."

Well, we're talking with Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer and the subject, as you can tell, is holiday traditions and celebrations. They've written a book about it, called Everyday Confetti. And you can learn more about it at .

And today for a donation of any amount, we'll send a copy of that to you. Just stop by and make a donation.

Jim: Let me ask this question. You talk in your book about a way to share Christmas that can be told with just a few cookies. What in the world is that about?

Glynnis: Well, that's the cookies that Karen was talking about. I mean, it's a great way to take the different shapes of the cookies and communicate the Christmas story. So, you've got the star. The star was what led the Wise Men to Jesus. And you've got the angel. The angels were singing over the manger scene.

Karen: And when you think of the bell, the bell was announcing that Christ was born. There's so many symbols that we can use to point our kids today to Jesus.

Jim: Now it feels odd them to eat the cookies. (Laughter) I feel bad after Jean tells the story of--

John: My children never feel bad--

Jim: --if we do that ...

John: --eating the cookies.

Jim: Really?

John: Yeah.

Jim: Okay, my kids wouldn't either. They'd say, "Oh, that star's a great cookie. I want the star." They'd fight over the star actually. But just move with it and have fun with it and--

Glynnis: Well, and discuss--

Jim: --let them enjoy it.

Glynnis: --the sweetness of the story--

Jim and John: Oh!

Jim: That's good, the sweetness.

Glynnis: --as you're eating the cookie, yeah.

Jim: Yeah, I like that with a big glass of milk. Karen, you describe your gift-giving philosophy when it comes to your children. Tell us how you keep from over spending and going crazy at this time of year. Jean and I and this (Laughing) … we always have our budget for the kids and we just … we go over it every time. I know it's horrible, but it's 'cause we want to be a good mom and dad and we want to spoil them at Christmas, but that's not necessarily the wise thing to do, is it?

Karen: Well, this is one tradition I can honestly say that we have done for the last 23 years and it was not original to me. I heard someone talk about it when I was pregnant with my firstborn child, that at Christmas, they decided in order to kinda combat some of that commercialism and the gimme, gimme, gimme that kids kind of feel at Christmas, that they were going to only give their children three gifts, because the Wise Men brought three gifts to Jesus, right?

Jim: Oh, that's good.

Karen: And so, I thought that was a good idea. So, for a couple of years, we just gave three gifts to our little kids. And then I had a different idea to kinda kick it up a notch. And I thought of the three things that Jesus got. He got gold, frankincense and myrrh. So, now each year our kids get a gold gift, a frankincense gift and a myrrh gift.

Jim: I was gonna say, your teenagers might like the gold.

Karen: Yeah, they might. (Laughter) Well, and this is kinda the whole theme of it. Gold is something that was sought after and priceless and precious, so they get one thing they really, really want. Then frankincense was burnt and arose during prayer, so they get one gift that will bring them closer to Christ. Perhaps it's a new Bible, maybe it's tickets to their favorite Christian concert. And then on the third gift, the myrrh was a burial spice actually that covered a person from head to toe. So, they get one thing to wear on their body.

Jim: That is outstanding. I like that.

Karen: And it's a lot easier to shop. You have already in your mind what you're looking for. You've got something to aim for those three categories.

Jim: For those that didn't quite catch it, just gift it one more time quickly.

Karen: Okay. Gold gift, frankincense and myrrh: gold is something that's really sought after. It's priceless and it's something they really want. Frankincense is something that draws them closer to Christ. And myrrh is something they can wear on their body.

Jim: I like that. I'm gonna talk to Jean about that.

John: That's good.

Jim: That's a great idea.

John: Yeah. And in fact, Jim, I … you could perhaps just buy those onesie pajamas that cover them from head to toe and--

Jim: And if they--

John: -- and they've got shoes on 'em and you …

Jim: --Scripture on 'me, then you've got (Laughter) …

Karen: Got it in gold.

Jim: Gold … in the color gold, you've got one gift and you're done.

John: I like it.

Jim: We're pathetic here, guys.

John: Yeah, we are bad, yeah.

Jim: Um … well, and you're saying what is really important. How do we get the focus of Christmas on Christ? How do we do that?

Karen: Yeah, the focus on Christ and the focus on others. You know, I spoke earlier about Christmas being an excuse to make someone else's life better. Well, that's what God did for us. He used Christmas as an excuse to make our lives better by sending Christ. And as we focus on the real reason for the season and on reaching out to others, I think it helps to combat some of this commercialism and this gimme, gimme, gimme and the high expectations and then let's be honest, sometimes the depression that sets in after Christmas with kids, you know, after all the ripping open of the gifts is over. So, I think if we really make it our intent to focus on Christ and focus on others and lay down our lives for others by inviting them into our holiday season and doing for them, I think it can help to shift our focus.

Jim: Let me ask you, at the beginning when you talked about just after Thanksgiving framing what's ahead with the Christmas holiday, would you raise those issues right at that time, to say, what do we want to focus on as a family and what's important to us in our faith? That to me, would be a good time to do that.

Karen: Absolutely and we always ask the kids, who is someone that we could reach out to?

Jim: Hm.

Karen: Maybe it's an elderly person and you can invite them over to help you decorate your home or go help them wrap their presents and address their Christmas cards or …

Glynnis: Yeah, I think it's a good segue from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And what I was thinking, Karen, when you were talking, is Jesus came to serve.

Karen: Uh-hm.

Glynnis: Now as we're focusing on Him, I mean that is really teaching kids about the whole reason that Jesus Himself said, "I came to serve, not be served."

Jim: Hm.

John: How does that play out in your family, Glynnis? What … do you have an … a project or something you do as a family at this time of year?

Glynnis: We always do. We take someone on as a family every year. I mean, we love to be a part of anything our church is doing and just … whether it's buying gifts for children whose father's incarcerated or the shoe box mission, we do always something and bring our kids into it. And really we love to is, when … not only can we buy something, but we can deliver it, where you can actually get into the homes of people who are in need and not only just talk about it, but actually visually see and experience what life is like.

John: Hm.

Karen: And not only going into other's homes, but bringing others into your home. One thing our family has done several times during the holidays is called our local university to find out if there are any foreign exchange students who have nowhere to go for Christmas--

Jim: Oh, man.

Karen: --or Thanksgiving.

Jim: That's a great idea.

Karen: And they come over and we include them in our traditional dinner. It's great when you go to the extended family. Everybody behaves because there's a stranger in the room. (Laughter) And my daughter had a wonderful time the first time we did this, getting to know a man from China, whose name was Xiu (pronounced shoe) and he got a chuckle out of her, because she wanted to know if he had a brother named Sock, since his name was Xiu. (Laughter) But it was fun to learn about his culture and how Christmas is celebrated in his culture.

Jim: Oh, man. My roommate in college was James Xiu (Laughter), so, it brings back a memory. Let me ask you guys, if you haven't done this in your family for whatever reason, you know, it's always been a hectic time at the holidays. Perhaps you've neglected to seize the moment with your children as they've grown. And now you have older teenagers and you're worried. You think, okay, they haven't really caught it. Is it too late to start a tradition?

Glynnis: Never too late to start a tradition. I think you have to adapt them. Like I … there's no way I could get my teenage boys to get in the backseat of a car and go look at lights anymore. But to … to … really where they are, to live where they are and to be creative, that's what I've had to learn as my kids have gotten older, that I can't force my desire and the way I think things should be anymore. I have to know what they like.

Karen: And I think as far as doing outreach maybe for the first time, it is a little awkward. It's a little different--

John: Uh-hm.

Karen: --to have strangers in your home or to be delivering something to a stranger's house. But I tell you, once kids get that glimpse that some people have way greater problems than they do and maybe just because you can't get the latest videogame for Christmas, you know, that's not the end of the world when you see somebody that doesn't have shoes.

Jim: What I like about what you're saying, it's good to be risky.

Karen: Uh-hm.

Jim: You know, having a student come into your home, that's a bit of a risk. A lot of people would go, whoa, I couldn't do that. You might want to try it, 'cause you never know how the Lord's gonna show up in that moment. Uh … Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer, authors of the book, Everyday Confetti, you have really helped me. I don't know if you've helped John much, but (Laughter) you really helped me and I'm gonna have a different attitude this holiday season and I want to say thank you for that and I hope many, many others can say the same. Thanks for being with us.

Karen and Glynnis: Thank you.


John: And you really have helped me and we've covered so very much along the way and I'm really looking forward to putting uh ... into practice, as Jim said, some of these great ideas that you've offered up. The book again, is Everyday Confetti: Your Year-Round Guide to Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions. And it would be a great addition for you to use this season and all year long. You'll find recipes and practical tips, encouragement to brighten your celebration, all the major holidays. And we've covered some of those and also a lot of the lesser-known holidays and celebration points, just ways for you to make every day count with your family.

And in fact, when you contribute a gift of any amount today to the work of Focus on the Family, we'll send you a copy of Everyday Confetti as our way of saying thank you and as a way for you to celebrate those special moments year round with your family. We're listener supported and we rely on your generosity to keep these radio programs going and provide great resources. And your donation is vital as we move ahead. Donate and get that book at or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller. Thanks for listening and please, join us again next time for more trusted advice to help you and your family thrive.

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Karen Ehman

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Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and a New York Times best-selling author whose books include Keep It Shut, Let. It. Go. and Listen, Love, Repeat. She has been a guest on national TV and radio programs, and she writes for Encouragement for Today online devotions. Karen and her husband, Todd, reside in Michigan and have three children. Learn more about Karen by visiting her website,


Glynnis Whitwer

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Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as Executive Director of Communications. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 700,000 daily readers, and served as the general editor for the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible. Glynnis and her husband Tod have five children and live in Glendale, Ariz.