When Melinda told me that I’d be co-hosting a show with psychotherapist Andrew Blackwood, aka Coach Drew, my first thought was Praise Jesus.

You see, I have a wonderful blended family with a brand new husband, five kids ages 12 to 24, a 13-year old step-dog, and a brand new puppy who has eaten half of our baseboards.

I needed Coach Drew’s advice big time. If you have not watched the show yet, do it. I’ll wait right here for you to come back!

I have spent 8 years as a single parent with a tiny perfect century home. And now, I’m in a big old warehouse of a house with approximately 800 bedrooms. And at Christmas, all of those bedrooms are full.

When the stocking are hung by the chimney with care, it looks like the home of a centipede.

As a bone-deep introvert, sometimes I just want to hide. Sometimes I chuckle at God’s ways since it’s clear He so wanted this for all of us. From the Charlton Heston voice that urged me to buy the house next to my husband, to all of the other circumstances that brought us together, our union is definitely God-blessed. But when everyone is fighting over who drained the last of the milk, it does not always feel that way. Throw a biting puppy into the mix and I want to hide in the coat closet with a tube of ready-bake cookie dough.

In the past, my survival tactics have been somewhat less than subtle. I’ve offered to go pick up more milk – in another province. And when I wanted a tad more privacy in my office, I bought a 400 pound, three-inch thick antique mahogany church door that required several burly men to hang.

Like I said: subtle.

But on the show, Coach Drew assured me that I was not alone in my feelings. Even if we love our families, the myriad of personalities in a family can cause stress, especially during the holidays. Coach Drew’s advice is to be realistic in our expectations. After all, Hallmark Christmas movies aren’t real. In real life, people disagree, people nurse hurt feelings, and things don’t always end with everyone gathered around the tree singing carols.

This Christmas, I want to take a page from our Nashville host Kimberley’s playbook and simply love on people as they are and not expect them to be like something from a movie. I’ll expect that the turkey might be overcooked, people might be grumpy, and even though I really want a Sephora gift card (hint hint), I might get something else.

And I will remember what the day is really about: the deep love of God for us, and the coming of Jesus.  Because I can do all things through Him who gives me strength – even when the puppy has destroyed what’s left of the Christmas tree…