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Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Warmth Back into the Season

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  208 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 28th 1991 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1982)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 27, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
There's a weird phenomenon where I only think of books as outdated if they are older than me. It makes a lot of sense- I'm not very old, and even as I get older it's such a subtle process that I mostly think of anything that happened within my lifetime as pretty recent. So when I picked this book up on clearance for about 25 cents, I didn't give much thought to the fact that it was published in 1991.

But holy crap is this book dated.

It starts off in a semi-promising way, in that it explains that
Dec 27, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
I read his book a long time ago, so the outdatedness other reviewers speak of wasn't apparent to me. (and I guess it helps that I don't ever feel obliged to bake ANY pies at Christmas, much less reduce my pie output fom three to "only" two.)
You know that metaphor about the frog in a pan of water on the stove? The water warms so gradually that the frog is acclimated--and scarcely even notices that he's getting cooked. Christmas stress can be like that-- so surrounding and so "normal" that one sca
Nov 07, 2011 Kristie rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy this book for many reasons. Basically, the book is not about getting back to the true meaning of Christmas; rather, it is about simplifying your current Christmas situation. My favorite (sarcasm) part of the book was when a writer described his perfect Christmas saying, "Then we'd all smile and clink our glasses together, feeling warm and together. There would be no talk of Jesus, but we would be very loving and accepting of ourselves and each other."

That's the ticket to a good
Sep 05, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
This book was recommended in a bunch of cookbooks I read (Ann Hodgman - check them out - they're really funny and will change the way you think about cooking, even if you don't agree with them). Anyway, it's great - very practical ideas about making the holiday season more manageable. What I like is that they avoid the somewhat obvious ('let's just keep christ in christmas') and encourage you to pick the traditions that are most important to you and your family. While they don't totally trash co ...more
Nov 11, 2008 Tracy rated it liked it
I'm going to call this book "read" although it's not the kind of book you have to read word-for-word. There are insights in every chapter and great observations about the differences between men and women (and how advertisers have us so figured out.) It's helpful for those of us who just want to make a few practical changes to stay better focused on the joys of the season, and you don't have to read it cover to cover to get the message and apply it. I attended a workshop where a few people admit ...more
Dec 17, 2012 K. rated it liked it
Shelves: pop-psyche
I wrote a blog post "Bartleby, the Scrooge" and one reader suggested that I pick up this book, which was making a similar point about simplifying Christmas. I found the 1982 hardback edition in my library. Yes, some of the examples were a bit dated, but I liked their general approach.

1. Take an inventory of your family members' values and expectations.
2. Take an inventory of your available time and money.
3. Have an open, respectful discussion together and set priorities.
4. Don't let others gui
Nov 27, 2011 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm sure in its day it was helpful, but even the updated second edition (1991) that I read is so dated to be almost laughable at points.

I really didn't care for the gender segregation (i.e. Women have this set of problems during the holidays and men have these very different issues). It just irritates me when authors paint with such a broad brush.

There are some exercises that may be helpful to identify what is most important to you about the Christmas season, what is causing you stress, and how
Dec 05, 2007 Sally rated it liked it
What I already know. Good to see I am not the only one.
A part of me loves the traditions of Christmas. Even some of the gift giving, when it is given in love and means something, not given because it is Christmas and it is expected of me. It should be all joy, not burden.

What I want is to be full of joy at the celebration of my Savior's birth, and to rejoice with others that know him, and to let my family and friends know how much I love them!

Christmas would mean so much more to me if gift excha
Aug 10, 2016 Little rated it liked it
A good book on stepping away from the commercial consumerism of typical modern American Christmas celebrations. If the section on historical celebrations of Christmas is interesting to you, I recommend Hundred Dollar Holiday as a quick read in addition. There are a lot of practical and actionable steps for not only reducing your reliance on purchased gifts and mandatory busyness to make Christmas special, but also for increasing your satisfaction with the holiday.
Oct 29, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kim by: ann marie read
The edition I got from the library was just a little dated, but full of good ideas and also confirmed much of what I already understand about the holiday season. I loved the section on "men" and their views of the holidays. Some really good insights overall. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels that the holidays have become "too much", overwhelming, depressing or who simply dreads some of the "goings on" at holiday time. Some wonderful ideas on how to pare back without losing the "hol ...more
Nov 12, 2012 Judy rated it liked it
The book could use some updating but the ideas are still valid. It is curious that I would even be interested in this book since the Christmas machine doesn't exist in my house, or even in my heart. I suppose it is because I am not a practitioner of "traditional" commercial Christmas that the book appealed to me. Turning off the Christmas machine is like avoiding peer pressure, know in your heart who you truly are and "Just Say No". I have avoided commercial Christmas for so many years that I th ...more
Nov 19, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it
Recommended to Christina by: Tightwad Gazette
I was already sold on the idea that Christmas shouldn't add a lot of stress and gifts shouldn't be the main focus, so this book basically reaffirmed my beliefs. It is a great book about how to have the Christmas you want to have by taking a good look at what is really most important. I like that it encourages you to take a look at what is most important to you - it doesn't tell you what should be the most important according to their beliefs.

The authors include good concrete advice on everything
Nov 17, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
This book is a little dated, written before the multiplicity of resources on the internet. For example, the book advocates catalog shopping but does not mention online shopping. A few good tips for downsizing Christmas, most of which I have already done. Where I need help is replacing the eliminated activities with new celebratory activities--i.e. making Christmas more than just presents, food, and television. There are some good ideas for connecting with family and friends on a more meaningful ...more
Nov 08, 2010 Sally rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My library has a very old, perhaps first edition, of this book. It was funny to read people's concerns about the television's evil influences on the holidays, because at this stage of our family's life, the TV takes second place to computers. Whatever form of technology you identify, however, it is definitely a distraction from the peace and joy of a simply, meaningful holiday. I liked considering what makes Christmas special, and I will keep this book in mind as we head into the busy, expensive ...more
This book helps you be more intentional about what kind of Christmas you create, focusing on what truly matters. It's a much-needed re-evaluation now that the holiday has become so obscenely commercialized. It includes a lot of tips for families to spend less time and money on Christmas so they can focus on what really matters to them. Unfortunately, I didn't get much from this book. It was mostly aimed at families, for one thing. Most of what it offers aren't all that insightful, but it is good ...more
Nov 09, 2015 Jenn rated it really liked it
Very good read. This book helped put into perspective many of the reasons people are disillusioned with the Christmas season and offered ways to make it less Bah Humbug. While some of the book is a little dated (the edition I read was from 1991), for the most part, the stories told and advice given are as valid today as they were 25 years ago.

I highly recommend this book, especially for those who are looking to put the joy back into Christmas.
Jan 15, 2014 Perri rated it really liked it
I went ahead and bought a copy of this book from Amazon. There are worksheets at the end of every chapter I want to reflect on and pass around in my family. It's not a new or original concept-trying to find the meaning of Christmas beyond the commercialism. I'm trying to assess what's important to me and mt family and tossing out the "shoulds" which seem especially to overwhelm at this emotionally potent holiday.
Mar 02, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
I was concerned that this book was going to be very preachy and telling me everything I was doing wrong. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. It really explained where we get the notions of "the perfect holiday" and what we can do to create instead the perfect holiday for us. I borrowed this from the library but am planning to buy my own copy. I felt that I was already doing several of the suggestions in the book, but there were still many good ideas here.
Jan 06, 2009 Jessie rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas
I must begin by saying that I didn't finish it. I read about half of it... I felt the idea was redundent so I was motivated to finish. However, I did like the book. I was looking for something of this caliber because Christmas time can be stressful for adults. This book gives tips and ideas for toning down the "To Do List" and making the season enjoyable once again.
Marianne Mullen
May 04, 2016 Marianne Mullen rated it it was amazing
LOVED it. Really great for getting clear on what Christmas means to you, why it does, and how to make choices that support your beliefs, goals, and desires. LOVED it. Really great for getting clear on what Christmas means to you, why it does, and how to make choices that support your beliefs, goals, and desires.
Feb 03, 2010 Chade66 rated it really liked it
I read an older edition of this book, but it has some interesting advice for those who feel harrassed and overwhelmed by the holiday season. Give yourself a chance to think about what is really important to you and your loved ones at the holidays and reshape your traditions to match what you really need rather than what you have always done.
Nov 29, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
I picked this up off a library display as a joke to show my friend. While I waited for her that afternoon I started thumbing through it and ..... it was pretty good. Not rocket science but a reminder that simple is better and that it is easy to get caught up in the "Christmas Machine". I think it was helpful in gaining a little perspective on Nov. 29th before the Christmas wave crashes over us.
Jan 06, 2009 Jenny rated it liked it
This book is full of ideas that are actually helpful in having a more family and Christ centered Christmas. I also liked how it talked about blending family traditions, making your own and incorporating the entire family into the holiday season instead of making it a 'woman's holiday' as Robinson calls it.
Ellen C
Oct 04, 2010 Ellen C rated it liked it
I really liked this book. Lots of good insight on how to make the holidays more meaningful. I think we are all learning to live on less these days and it was really nice to get some ideas on how to keep christmas special and a great family holiday without getting caught up in all the overspending and crazy schedule of the holiday. I am really looking forward to Christmas this year.
Jul 18, 2008 Tiana rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tiana by: MBC
Shelves: nonfiction
Thanks to MBC for another great recommendation. I really enjoyed this book because it made me think about why I do what I do for Christmas and what I want to get out of it without being preachy or too sappy. Lots of great suggestions and questions. Every family should have to read it together.
Jan 06, 2009 Jacquelyn rated it it was amazing
Feel like you are on the commercial Christmas treadmill? Ready for a change? Read this book! It gives you lots of tips and suggestions for helping you make changes in the way you think of and celebrate Christmas
Jul 04, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it
Such a great book to pick up around the holidays to take off some of the pressure and stress. I really enjoy the suggestions and the whole outlook. I will definitely be picking this book up again each holiday season.
Jenna Jenks
Dec 07, 2007 Jenna Jenks rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone sick of their current christmas situation
This book is a wonderfully thorough look at the psychology behind what we do to ourselves at Christmas, with a heavy dose of how to change it for the better. An extremely worthwhile and interesting read.
Jan 16, 2009 Kristen rated it really liked it
Fabulous book! It gives you the tools to outline the things about the Holiday Season that are valuable to you. Throw the social rules out the window and celebrate in a way that will bring you and your family more joy
Nick Klagge
Dec 30, 2010 Nick Klagge rated it it was ok
A book about making Christmas more tradition-focused and less commercial. About what one might expect; I didn't find any particularly new insights.
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Jo Robinson, an investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling writer, is the author of the book, Pasture Perfect, and the principal researcher and writer for the web site. Jo has spent the last nine years researching the many benefits of raising animals on pasture. Her interest grew out of a previous book, The Omega Diet, co-authored with Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, that explore ...more
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