Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jennifer Hallmark | Spread the Christmas Joy

A Joyful Christmas Tradition

“A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing…” Proverbs 17:22, AMP.

Some traditions begin when others end. Every Christmas, our family looks forward to the Christmas Eve dinner at my house. We usually have around thirty people, spread all over the house, eating and fellowshipping. After we’ve enjoyed the turkey and ham and tasted the desserts, we gather in the main room for the highlight of the evening, Yankee Swap—or what we call “Dirty Santa.”

We all bring wrapped gifts of similar value, wrapped, and place them under the tree. After the presents are distributed, everyone picks a number and the fun begins. The packages and gift bags are opened and exchanged. Usually one gift stands out that everyone wants. It is passed around but after the third swap, it’s considered safe and can’t be traded again. There’s a lot of laughter and fussing, all in good fun. This year, we’ve added a new element to the game. You have to purchase an “As seen on TV” present to swap. I can’t wait to see all the unique offerings that show up under the tree.

It might surprise you to know that our fun tradition began during a time of grief. We’d always had our Christmas Eve dinner at my mother-in-law’s home until her declining health caused us to move it to our house. When she passed away, we all agreed that we needed to change some things to help with the healing. We still met on Christmas Eve but started the Christmas swap. Now I can’t imagine Christmas without it.

Don’t be afraid to try something new this year, especially if you’re going through a difficult season. Like our family, it might just become a joyful Christmas tradition.


Jennifer Hallmark has published articles, short stories and been part of four book compilations, A Dozen Apologies, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, Unlikely Merger, and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. Jennifer’s website and the group blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

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Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage

Our society understands how terrible the loss of a child is when that child is out of the womb, but what about when a child dies before birth? Or what about the emptiness that comes when a very-much-wanted child is never even conceived?

These quiet, private losses are hard for those who have not experienced them to understand. And these losses leave those who have suffered them feeling alone in their grief.

Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage is a resource both for those who have suffered through these experiences and for their friends and relatives, who want to understand what their loved ones are going through.

This collection contains true stories that are:
  • sensitive, and yet honest 
  • angry and raw, but not despairing 
  • unique, and yet relatable
The contributors to this book are male and female, old and young, some who eventually had children and some who never did, and yet despite their differences, they share a common grief and a common faith.

No experience of miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility is like any other, yet by reading these painful and hope-filled stories, you’ll be comforted by knowing there are others who understand the journey you’re on, the loss you’ve suffered, and you will find that even though your loss is uniquely yours, you are not alone.

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