Black Friday has come and gone.  Christmas season is in full swing. All the sights, sounds, lights, demands, parties, plans, schedules, shopping, wrapping, declarations, family recipes, recycled fruitcakes, ballgames … Everything that has culminated into the American Christmas experience has now engulfed us. We are in the express lane to December 25.


     As a parent of six and a grandparent of nine, the cycle has only grown more robust and complex for me in the last 35 years. And honestly, I love it. I went through a season complaining about “commercialism” and “losing the meaning of Christmas” in my early years, but my wife quickly rescued me from that religious humbug inside of me!


     But that doesn’t mean that both fears were not real. In fact, we CAN lose the true meaning of the season and even grow to almost dread it with all of its pulls — but we certainly don’t have to. Here are three things I’ve learned to help me keep Christmas an absolute favorite season:


Embrace the moments


     We do many small and often imperceptible things throughout the holidays. Find a way to stop in those moments and enjoy them. Did you stop and get a spiced latte? Sit for five minutes and sip that coffee and chat with someone at the next table. Does your 4-year-old want to find a few decorations on the tree? Take time to help them find that particular one that makes them so happy. These five-minute interludes in life create moments of oxygen that give everything else meaning.


Value the traditions


     Growing up, we had many traditions. As we raised our children, many of those traditions we kept, some we did not, but many more we added. One in particular is sharing a deli sandwich with someone on Christmas Eve. Our first Christmas together, my wife and I had very little money and just enough to split a roast beef sandwich at Metrocenter Mall. That is our tradition to this day. It reminds us of God’s amazing provision from when we had very little to times of abundance. Name two or three traditions that are important to you, why they are important, and encourage your family to also remember why they are important.


Sweet memories over perfect gifts


     In one of my first Christmases buying for the children, I was agonizing over two different toys. Growing frustrated with my OCD analysis of which was better, my wife sighed and noted, “She will not know which one you did not get her.” As silly as it sounds, I realized I was fretting over finding the exact right gift rather than looking forward to playing with my daughter and her new toy or game. I began to envision enjoying the gift with her, and suddenly I could not make the wrong decision.


     Let’s keep the jolly in this season, and have a very merry Christmas!


Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at