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Even if you’re typically good at protecting your schedule from overcommitment, the Christmas season tends to fill up. There are just so many good options — parties, service opportunities, children’s programs, gift purchasing and giving, cookie baking, family and church commitments — they pile up. Before you know it, the magic and joy is buried under the stress.

I don’t want to be stressed out during the most wonderful time of the year. I bet you don’t either.

A couple of years ago, I unwittingly started a new tradition. I created an Advent calendar of activities — all the simple joys I wanted to be sure didn’t get overlooked in the busyness of the season. I included drinking hot chocolate, taking a drive and looking at Christmas lights, watching Elf, baking cookies, making ornaments, delivering a gift to a neighbor, calling grandparents to sing Christmas carols, “fancy dinner” (little girls in dresses and water in wine glasses). The last weekend in November, I take a look at our December calendar and match activities with days (our calendar features paper pockets holding each day’s activity. It’s not uncommon to switch activities when plans change).
Begin a new family tradition this Christmas with The Donkey in the Living Room picture book and box set by Sarah Raymond Cunningham with illustrations by Michael Foster. Children will learn the true meaning of Christmas through the individual stories of the characters present at Jesus’ birth – the Donkey, Cow, Sheep, Shepherd, Angel, Camel, Wise Men, Joseph, and, of course, baby Jesus – intended to be read each day in the nine days before Christmas.

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How do you protect your family from getting overwhelmed during the Christmas season?