My 10-Step Game Plan for the Holidays

November 17, 2017

I need a new game plan. I’m not beating myself up about feeling down lately, but I don’t want to stay there. So how can I allow grief to do its work on me, but not let it rule my life? Especially when life’s moments sneak up on us and still knock the wind out of us?

Last night it was Lolo’s turn for parent-teacher conferences. Because I’m a single mom now, that means little brother was in tow. As we walked up to the middle school, a Dad and his two young sons ran out of the doors, racing each other to their car. They were smiling and laughing as they sprinted to win the family race. Gman turned to me and said, “I really miss Daddy.”

Grief is everywhere. Reminders of what we miss are EVERYWHERE! Sure, we can CHOOSE joy, gratitude, positivity, etc. but it often feels like it’s not really much of a choice. I think it would be more accurate to say we can choose to TRY and keep trying every day for all those positive emotions. Because if we just say choose, and then grief sucker punches us and we feel sad, then we feel failure on top of grief. So I say nuts to that business. Who needs guilt on top of grief? No thanks.

With Thanksgiving next week, which is also the day my birthday falls on this year (sarcastic woohoo), I need a good game plan. Here’s my plan so far:

  1. Choose to TRY to be joyful, positive, happy, and not afraid, sad or worried.


  1. Focus on my kids, niece and nephews, in-laws, siblings – busy myself with play, love and laughter.


  1. Say yes to the glass of wine at dinner. (not advocating excessive drinking but heck yes to a glass or two).


  1. Say yes to the Thanksgiving carbs. I’m sorry, but potatoes and stuffing make me happy. Fat, but happy.


  1. Ignore the 10,000 fears I have and continue dreaming about the future of this website, a future career and successful business.


  1. For every worry or fear or sad moment, I will write down something that makes me thankful.


  1. My prayer life has been sort of meh lately. What a coinky-dink, right? Will I ever learn?! I want to be better about dedicating alone time to pray. I’m good about reading and studying the Bible but I haven’t been too committed to pouring myself into prayer.


  1. Turn off the news. I know I can’t do this totally, but I will reduce the time I spend seeking information. It’s toxic out there, folks – moderation is good.


  1. I know every single time I give something anonymously or serve in secrecy, my heart is full. I wish I had a billion dollars because how fun would it be to bless the socks off of unsuspecting people?! But there are still lots of things I can do on a tiny budget to brighten someone’s day. I’m going to schedule these things in my planner to make sure I don’t forget.


  1. You know what comes after Thanksgiving, right?   The big one – CHRISTMAS! I’ve always loved Christmas – so much so that I demanded a Christmasy wedding. (Oh, yeah – wedding anniversary coming up too – ugh). I’m going to make a conscious, dedicated effort to focus on the birth of Christ. That means slowing down as much as possible. It means taking in the small important moments. It means spending as much time with family and friends as possible. There will be sorrow, it’s unavoidable, but drawing closer to Christ – to the “reason for the season” is the game plan I need to get through it best.

So there you have it. My game plan for the holidays 2.0. I’ll be on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter throughout the holidays. You can subscribe to the site too so you don’t miss a post. Visit me online when you’re feeling alone. Plus, there’s sure to be road trip antics you might not want to miss. I hope you’ll stop by online and feel the comfort of company. I’m standing beside you – rooting for you – rooting for us. We’re not alone. We’ve got this. God’s got this!

Extra grace,


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  • Reply Kristin L Flanders November 17, 2017 at 10:40 am

    This will be my first holiday season without Mike. I am trying to focus on all I have to be thankful for and helping others as much as my budget allows. I am focusing as well on all our happy memories but allowing the tears to fall when they come. I hate that he isn’t here but I am thankful for the peace the Holy Spirit brings ~ I hope I am able to share that with my family, his family, and our friends.

  • Reply Sue McAulay November 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I love that you say “try” to choose happiness, joy, etc…..Because you’re right-grief will sucker punch us! So “trying” to do my best through this 2nd year of holidays with Mark gone is what I’m going to “try” to do. Thanks for doing what you do-you inspire me.
    With gratitude,

  • Reply Chari November 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Jodi, You seriously have spoken to my heart. This week marked 5 months and I swear it’s not getting any easier. Our son got married the end of October and I am adjusting to being alone in our home. Our home is a comforting place, but it’s so quiet, so, so quiet. I’ve taken this week to slow down, I had been filling up my time with business to avoid being alone, but I needed to embrace it, it is my “new normal” and I need to get used to it. I pray A LOT and I cry a lot. Right after Thanksgiving is what would’ve been our 31st wedding anniversary, and like you, we had a Christmas-themed wedding, it was so magical. I feel a lot of times like I am just going through the motions of life, that’s all I CAN do sometimes. I am so thankful for so many things, God has truly blessed me and our family, but there is a void that is undeniable. I “try” each day to put on my normal happy face and move through the day, sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. Like you, I beat myself up and I feel people look at me like “get over it already”. I will continue to thank God each and every day and continue to share how good and faithful He is in my life and praise Him everyday no matter what. I can’t thank you enough for this blog, I look forward to getting that email and save reading it for a time that I can sit quietly and read it and soak it in. Our boys, although they are grown, miss their father so much. Making life decisions is hard for them without their Dad’s wisdom and guidance and hearing him tell them how proud he is of them, they miss that and need that so.

    • Reply Lynne Cartwright November 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm


      Oh, how I can relate to you. On the 19th of this month it will be 5 months that my husband died. You are so right in that it doesn’t get easier, I think it gets more and more difficult. Next month it will be 6 months just a few days after his birthday. I think I’m dreading that more than Christmas. I, too, keep myself extremely busy during the week and on weekends but the evenings are killers. It is so quiet and I have no one to talk with. I have someone that I “talk to” but he doesn’t engage in my conversation – it is very one-sided. I’m pretty good out in public, it’s in the quietness of home that I get sad. Our son also got married but it was very bittersweet. He got married on a Friday and Kent passed away on Sunday. He did get to see the wedding as we live=streamed it to his hospital room. We were also able to face time at the reception so he got to see who was there and say hi. I was so worried that he would take a turn for the worse and I would have to decide whether I would be with him or with my son on his important day. Luckily, I did not have to make that decision. Our boys also really miss their dad, especially the one who just got married. He was counting on his dad to help him fix up the house they bought. Kent was looking forward to teaching Brent about wiring. I miss all the advice he gave them, that I just can’t seem to find the words for. It must be a father thing. I’m rather dreading the holidays but I keep thinking what better place to spend Christmas, than with Jesus. That’s makes me happy because I know how happy he is to be with him. Blessings to you for this upcoming season – may you find peace in your memories. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you – it just seemed our lives paralleled each other as I read your comments.

  • Reply Dorothy J Wright November 18, 2017 at 8:14 am

    This will be my second Christmas and Thanksgiving without my Jack. Our anniversary is also in December, the 28th. It is especially hard during this busy time. I just added five grandchildren concerts to my calendar for December so I will have lots of family time to help. But these were some of Jack’s favorite things also.

  • Reply Christine Ishmael November 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Right there with you in school conferences, we’re six months out and my high schooler (my straight A girl) is failing two classes…this affects our kids more than we realize. We have adult abilities for coping but their coping skills are still young and developing. What amazing adults they’ll be though, having seen what “hard times” truly are, hopefully their compassion and kindness towards others will bless their lives. Prayers for you and yours. I heard Disney’s “Coco” was sad but a good message that our loved ones are near. Now to get through Christmas!

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