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Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season Paperback – October 28, 1991

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Now in its 13th printing, Unplug the Christmas Machine remains one of the most comprehensive guides to managing Christmas stress and combating commercialism. Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli give readers solid advice on how to make their celebrations more spiritual and less materialistic. Practical discussions, such as shopping lists, holiday recipes, and family activities, meld with deeper issues, such as how to teach children that Christmas is more than a present or how to find meaning in the holiday when you're not especially religious. Robinson and Staeheli even delve into the mixed blessings of Christmas homecomings to help readers pass the true holiday stress test.

About the Author

Jo Robinson is a freelance writer specializing in books about personal and social change. She is the co-author of four other books, including Emotional Incest, and the best-selling Getting the Love You Want. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son.



Jean Coppock Staeheli continues to help people make changes in their lives through her work in the Portland Health Institute's clinical programs, graduate courses and workshops, and services to health professionals. She also writes about health related topics. Jean lives in Tigard, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Rev Sub edition (October 28, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688109616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688109615
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Since reading Unplug the Christmas Machine when it was first published several years ago, my family and I have scaled way back materially at Christmastime. As a result, we're less stressed and have more time to spend together doing the things we really enjoy, such as going to holiday concerts, singing carols, baking goodies, reading in front of the fire, writing letters, etc. This book will help your whole family "unplug" from the out-of-control juggernaut that is Christmas in the U.S. It also makes a great gift for friends and family who might need permission to simplify their lives during the holidays.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
While I felt overwhelmed with the Christmas machine, I didn't want to give up everything. This book helped me identify what mattered to me and my family. I especially liked the ideas on how to pace the holiday. This suited me much better than the "Simplify Christmas" book which seemed to me to consist more of reasons not to have a tree, send cards etc. than identify what to keep and what to change.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read this book 7 years ago, when I was just married and trying to keep everyone happy at Christmastime, spreading myself far too thin in the process - "Unplug The Christmas Machine" was a lifesaver!!! I learned how to NOT try to be all things to all people (one chapter is aptly titled, "Women: The Christmas Magicians"), how to handle "difficult" family members, how to relax and enjoy the season - a very important lesson. I have loaned or given this book to countless friends and family members - I cannot recommend it highly enough!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason G on January 31, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unplug the Christmas Machine is a thoughtful look designed to help individuals become more intentional about how they celebrate the Christmas season. Based on data, observations and research into how individuals and families approach the Christmas celebrations, the authors have suggestions based on real thought that intends to remind people what their real goals are in Christmas celebration and what they can do to achieve those real goals.

Taking neither a secular nor an especially religious approach to how Christmas is celebrated, the authors are consistent in their desire for people to be intentional in how the holiday is celebrated. For example, they show through their research, the oft-repeated desire for the holidays to be more family centered, is encouraged by a slower approach to celebration, where different individuals in a family are encouraged to participate, rather than just one or two to carry the load.

The markers of modern Christmas - a big family meal with lots of gift giving and a smattering of religious observation are observed in the book as something that has sapped the life of what should be a restful, heartfelt celebration. Certainly stresses in families, due to divorce or other separating factors, combined with the notion of what Christmas is supposed to be, from the retail marketers contribute to how Christmas is often more trouble than it is worth for many.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Simplifying the holidays.... Adding joy to a season of intense busy-ness.... Bringing the spiritual aspects of Christmas into clearer focus.... These are all topics covered in this wonderful book---plus much more! Don't wait until December to order this book. The sooner you read it, the easier it will be to make any necessary changes to your personal holiday celebrations.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
THis is the best book I have ever read on how to handle Christmas. Some books on this subject get so psychological that one wants to check into a hospital and forget Christmas. I am ordering it for all the family - one copy each.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Maureen on November 26, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am delighted to see that Robinson and Staeheli have updated their material in this new edition . . . I've been using this book as an inspiration for workshops and talks since it first came out in the early 1990's. Consistently, people are empowered to claim their OWN approach to the Holidays after working through the concepts.
The eye-opening exercises are easily completed by an individual -- and there are many hints and pieces of advice for people wanting to involve their families in simplifying their holidays. Whether you come at this period from a religious or a secular perspective, this book can strengthen your resolve to make your holidays heart-felt rather than $-based.
Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Guzman on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
...then I'll be happy.

I have an unscientific observation. It seems to me the further away someone feels from the "perfect Christmas", the more money, time and resources they devote in pursuit of this unattainable perfection. Speaking from personal experience- there is not enough money, time, or resources that can produce this magical Madison Avenue promise.

It's July, and I just bought this book in the clearance section at Half Price Books ($2.00). Perfect timing!
The book had me at the preface. Although the women/men assigned roles do not reflect my life, I am able to hear the message that lies beyond the language.

To the authors: I've taken the Christmas Pledge and have started to gently share it with my family and friends. Thank you for standing up, speaking out.
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