What if this were your LAST Christmas?

Here’s a simple but sobering exercise to help motivate you to make this your best holiday season ever. Think about this for a moment: What if this were your last holiday season?

It may sound morbid, but try to view the question in a positive light: What if you had the benefit of knowing that this Christmas was the last one your children had to remember with you?

We know of several husbands and fathers who, a year ago, were going through life as normal. They had no idea then that they wouldn’t be here a year later. But if they had known, what would they have done differently last year? The whole point of this exercise is to make changes this year that will help you and your family have more meaningful holidays.

If you knew this holiday season was the last one your kids would have with you, how would you make the most of it? What gifts would you give? You don’t have to go into debt buying expensive gifts; in fact, maybe this year you can spend less on gifts. This could be the year to put more time and effort into coming up with gifts that will be meaningful and memorable for your family members. Maybe gifts of time are part of the solution.

Which traditions would you observe—and which would you skip? Is it time to re-energize some existing traditions, or maybe try some new ones? Would you be more patient standing in line? Or more tolerant of the daily stresses at home? Would you be more forgiving when your kids are too loud or they get on each other’s nerves?

Maybe some better questions would be less about what you would and wouldn’t do, and more about how you would act as you do them. Whatever your traditions may be—decorating the house together, baking cookies, going for a drive to see the lights, get-togethers with friends, having a traditional meal, traveling to see relatives, opening gifts, helping a family in need, making a family video, attending holiday programs and worship services, etc.—the secret is to be completely engaged in those activities and make them special for your whole family. Live like it’s your last holiday season, and really make it count.


  • What is the most unique tradition that your family celebrates? Be sure to make the most of that one.
  • Consider starting a new tradition that emphasizes being active—like a family hike, bike ride, ping-pong tournament, football game, etc.
  • With young children, have an at-home Christmas pageant where your family does a costumed parade or acts out a story that demonstrates the meaning of the holidays.
  • Another tradition idea: get everyone together to watch home videos of past celebrations.
  • Let your children contribute ideas for someone your family could help in some way during the holiday season.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.