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Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  321 ratings  ·  68 reviews
The Christmas season is a particularly difficult time for women to slow down and relish what's right in front of them. An annual marker for many, it is a holiday that can often remind us how life is not going as we'd planned. Our family relationships remain strained, our finances stretched, and our schedules stuffed with too much to do in too little time.
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Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Baker Books
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
4.5/5 stars.

A little confession: I've struggled for the last several years to really enjoy the Christmas season. Maybe it's the extra pressure that comes from being a mom and having more people to juggle, maybe expectations outside our immediate family have ramped up...I don't know, but no matter how much I prepare, the season still seems to be more stressful than I would like.

Knowing this about myself, when I saw Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall, I knew I had to grab it.
Anne Rogers
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I am assuming we are alike in that yours is not a holiday filled with perfect gifts, impeccable decorations, and seamless relationships. That it is filled with constraints on time and money, and flawed people... And you want to enjoy this Christmas. The one right in front of you. This will be about relishing what is in your life. Your family. Your budget. Your reality."

The Christmas of 2016 was a tough one for mum of four Alexandra Kuykendall to determine to relish the season. Her father died
Nov 03, 2017 added it
I won "Loving My Actual Christmas" by Alexandra Kuykendall from Baker Books in a Goodreads giveaway. Ms. Kuykendall encourages us to join her in her experiment of celebrating this Christmas by relishing what is in Your life, right now; considering Your family's foibles; keeping in mind Your budget; working within Your reality. She takes us through the weeks of Advent by defining our expectations, developing a schedule, creating a budget and reading scriptural passages. Then she gets honest about ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well thought out book that provides the reader with a good sense of how to go through the Christmas season without losing their mind. The first two-thirds of the book focus on Kuykendall's experience through one Advent and Christmas season. The last third is practical application of her experience to our own. The book follows the traditional Advent structure and is a realistic look at how expectation plays a huge role in the Christmas experience. Highly recommended.

*I received an advance reader
Amy Langmaack
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2017
But it doesn't have to be that way. InLoving My Actual Christmas, Alexandra Kuykendall reminds us that we can relish the season despite all of the chaos and busyness culture pushes us towards. In this book, she takes us on a journey through Advent and how to apply thehope, love, joy, and peace through the season. Each chapter introduces the need, how Kuykendall plans to live out the specific aspect of Advent, a glimpse into her day to day through the week, and some questions for reflection.

Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read it twice during advent and it saved my Christmas! "No complaining about Christmas" was my holiday mantra.
Angie Fehl
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
It all started with Alexandra Kuykendall's previous release, Loving My Actual Life, in which for an entire year she challenged herself to slow down a bit and take in the actual life she was living rather than the one she was obsessively trying to achieve through insane schedules, a go-go-go lifestyle and maybe a touch of subconsciously trying to compete with friends and neighbors for a mythical "best life" award. Using the format of that experiment, Kuykendall challenges herself once again, this ...more
Michele Morin
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loving My Mid-Life Christmas

For the past several years, change has been the only constant in our Christmas celebration.

Grown-up sons marry, pack up their collection of treasured ornaments, and hang them on their own trees. College guys come home when they can and join in the fun on an intermittent schedule. Teens branching into individualized creativity stride manfully into the woods—ax in hand–and return bearing a Charlie Brown tree for their bedroom, which they will festoon with enough lights
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment In Relishing The Season is a like a breath of fresh air for those women who get so caught up in trying to make Christmas "just right" that they collapse in sheer exhaustion by the time it's over. Vowing to do things differently the next year, they get caught in an endless cycle of feeling driven to do too much, never getting it all done, and completely bulldozing the entire point of Christmas in the process. Alexandra Kuykendall is one of those women. So ...more
Jen Bradbury
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Christmas has always stressed me out. That stress has only worsened since I became a mom.

For that reason, I was intrigued by Alexandra Kuykendall’s Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season. In this book, Alexandra sets out to conduct an experiment in how she can be more present during her actual life in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Each week, Alexandra identifies a need (following the themes of Advent: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace as well as Christmastide), and then
J.K. Turner
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-challenge
My Rating -If you are looking for something

Level -Short, easy book

I think the best summary of this book comes from the subtitle of the intro chapter - A Recalibrating of the Season. That would be the Christmas and Advent seasons, both the secular and Christian aspects. Her goal in writing this is to help people get past the over commercialized, hectic and stressful parts of the American Christmas season. She advocates doing an Advent devotional/study to help ground you in the Christian
Just Commonly
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"It is here, in the middle of my actual circumstances and holiday, where I look for a new way to do Christmas" (17)

Have you ever felt like the Christmas season is just another big "to-do" rather than a time to celebrate the true meaning of it? Well, you're not the only one. Alexandra Kuykendall, author of one of my favorite books last year, Loving My Actual Life penned another book on relishing the season, Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season. A personal memoir of
Prairie Sky Book Reviews
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
For many people, Christmas can be a rather controversial topic. It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year”, filled with reflection on the baby in a manger and quality time with family. While this may be the case to some degree, there’s more to the story for most families. . . In reality, this season is also a time of hectic chaos, heartache that seems to build up from a difficult year, and frustration over what we wish was true but isn’t. In a new book from Baker Publishing, “ ...more
Katherine Jones
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ho ho ho already? Oh no no no! If you’re anything like me, you’re nowhere near ready to begin thinking about Christmas, much less begin planning for it. Fall has only just arrived, after all, and we have weeks of laid-back, autumnal beauty to enjoy before we charge into the hectic pace of what’s commonly known as The Holiday Season.

But that’s just it. Since when is that hectic pace something any of us actually love?

Truth is, a little forethought and preparation can go a long way to allowing moms
Terry Perrine
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall is the book I never knew I always needed! As I read through this book just a few days before Christmas, my only complaint is that I hadn't picked it up sooner. Alexandra uses an experimental style to determine those things that she feels are her absolute priorities during the Christmas season and then establishes her weeks leading up to Christmas around those priorities and nothing else. In this way, her goal is to "love her actual Christmas."

Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love how much the Christmas spirit brings out the best of people, however, it can also bring out the worst and the stress, which has happened to me. Recently, I have struggled with Christmas as have I allowed the expectations of others get the best of me. The Christmas season has become stressful to me.
When I saw "Loving My Actual Christmas" I was very excited to get my hands on this book. I am self-aware to know that I need to de-stress things from
Are you on the brink of quitting Christmas forever? Are your burnt out on the rituals of finding and decorating that perfect Christmas tree? Are you tired and frustrated once Christmas is over? Then this is the book for you, my friend: `Loving my Actual Christmas` by author Alexandra Kuykendall.

The chapters are divided into themes: the first four are for each week of the Advent and the last chapter breaks up the twelve-days known as Christmastide, carrying you into the new year. Each chapter
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this book enough! Read it now before the craziness of the Christmas season hits. Read it now so you can truly savor the special moments with family and friends, moments of loving the actual people in your life and being grateful to the God who chose to send his son into a dark and weary world to be our light and hope for all eternity.

"This holiday becomes a circus because we are operating out of our longings. We long for memories and fun and happiness. We long for meaning and
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This holiday season will be an odd one for me. My last one with all 4 of my kiddos living in my house as the oldest will be off to college next year. I was starting to feel more then a little anxious about it. For me that meant making grand plans that I would likely never pull off and our actual Christmas would fall short of the vision in my head.
While I might still do that, because honestly it's kind of who I am. I feel like I am going into the holiday season armed with a realistic game plan
Diane Higgins
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Loving My Actual Christmas” by Alexandra Kuykendall is a book that will make you fall back in love with Christmas again. Sometimes the holiday season can be way too many “to do lists”, and we sometimes forget to relax and enjoy the season. Alexandra shows us how to enjoy the season again. She has her book broken up into four different subjects: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. Then she ends the book with Practical Tips. Each subject has a detailed description of what she did each day to enjoy the ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall is well written and a refreshing, practical guide on how to experience and find joy in the Holiday Season no matter where you are in your life and what is going on in your life.
It's a call to remember the "reason for the season" and how to avoid sabotaging yourself and those around you during the Christmas season.

Ms. Kuykendall's advise and steps of her "experiment" are clearly defined, practical and at times a bit unnerving as she asks you to
Kristi Brokaw
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this--just what I needed looking forward to this Christmas season. I WANT every year for Christmas to be special, meaningful, focused on the right things, joyful, hopeful, and important. But by the time everything piles on, it just becomes a season to survive. Therefore, I loved Kuykendall's practical and inspiring guide to clarifying Christmas expectations and having expectant hope, focusing on LOVE (tangibly, like Christ did), choosing joy even in the first-world guilt and whiplash, ...more
Katy Wright
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a breathe of fresh air for this type A personality. I'm already thinking about Christmas and the perfect memories I want to orchestrate for my family but I also am already struggling with putting too much pressure on myself. This book hit the nail right on the head and I already feel refreshed and ready to embrace the reality of my life and let some of the pressure off. I don't have to create perfect memories, instead this book helped me remember that I can set realistic ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, advent-reads
My Review: I picked up this book on a whim because who doesn't need help and guidance to actually enjoying Christmas instead of feeding into the holiday pressure?! It turned out to be much more religion driven than I expected but it did give a lot of great tips and things to think about. I like how it was broken down into the weeks of Advent and each week was given a goal and a thought to focus on. There were also great prompts throughout the book and at the end to give you ways to make your ...more
John D
Sep 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dana Herndon
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loving My Actual Christmas is set up similar to Alexandra’s previous book, Loving My Actual Life. In both books, she chronicles her experiences in a combination of journal and how-to guide. Loving My Actual Christmas follows each week of Advent plus Christmastide (Christmas Day through the beginning of January). Each week has a theme, Bible readings, and advice on how to implement the joy of Christmas in the midst of life’s ups and downs. Alexandra also offers her personals goals for that week ...more
Terri Conlin
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Every year I try to simplify Christmas without diluting its deep meaning in our home and to our neighbors. I have tried several things that have worked and many that have not.

Now, I have found a voice to speak into the season. Alexandra Kuykendall has done some real things in her real life to help pace Christmas preparations and celebrations. She has wisely included thoughts on joy, grief and peace. And Christmastide.

One of my favorite practical ideas from this book is to schedule unscheduled
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
When I found this book, I knew I needed it in my life. I love Christmas but always wish I could enjoy it more because my enjoyment is dulled by the stress and busyness that is always inevitable.

The author breaks down each week leading up to Christmas with instructions on how to slow down and plan events leading up to the big day. She is honest and relatable in each day, sometimes struggling but learning through it all.

There are also great tips at the end on finances, scheduling, party planning,
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Though I expected to hear nothing but things I've heard before, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was thoughtful and well-written. I especially loved the idea of celebrating Christmastide or the 12 days of Christmas. This "season" lasts from December 25th until Epiphany on January 6th. I love that idea because Christmas is usually a whirlwind of travel and visiting and driving. So to think that I'll still have time to celebrate and settle in to the year and remember again the birth of ...more
Brooke Fradd
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This, much like her previous book "Loving My Actual Life," combines memoir and practical application for living - and loving - life more purposefully. Admittedly, the most joyful time of the year can also be the most stressful. Kuykendall personally addresses grief as well as busyness as she attempts to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
The author is relatable and writes on an level which meets her readers where they are. The book's length is in keeping with its message - sometimes less can be
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