It can be hard to remember the reason for the season when you are putting together your umpteenth tray of cookies for yet another cookie exchange. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to feel a little empty by the time it's over. Have you ever had that kind of depressed feeling the day after Christmas? A little holiday hangover?
My oldest child is getting to the age where he really understands that Christmas means lots of fun new things... That said, I don't think it's bad for my kids to want things and be excited about presents... the Christmas season is magical! However, I also want to strive for just as much excitement about the greatest gift we have ever received, Jesus!
This year, while we are counting down the days to a tree full of presents, I also wanted to count our blessings and the numbers of ways we could bless others. If you spend any time on Pinterest, you have probably seen the "Random Acts of Christmas Kindness" concept - basically an advent calendar of daily kind actions instead of candies or small gifts.
Yes, it is a little (or a lot of) extra work for me. It is requiring some personal sacrifice (late nights baking, "staging" trips to the grocery store for the sole purpose of returning a stranger's shopping cart...) but the right amount of planning ahead has made it not so daunting.
The most important part was planning ahead and making it realistic for us. I made sure that the activities were age appropriate and actually fell on a day where it was possible for us to accomplish that particular task.
I know it will be difficult for a 4 year old mind to grasp the full significance of the "gift of self" during this holiday season, but these activities are opening up so many opportunities for little conversations about how MOST of the world lives. Not everyone has snacks in the cupboard and a playroom full of toys. Lots of people live hungry. I am constantly reminding him (in a nice way) that we don't get to buy something for ourselves today, that Santa will take care of him on Christmas day, and so we need to help others have a good Christmas too.
Here are some tips to make this happen this year (It's not too late! Love and kindness has no expiration date)!
- Make a list of possible activities and/or a list of all the people you could bless (teachers, coworkers, neighbors, public servants, etc... EVERYONE likes to feel appreciated and acknowledged).
- Plug your chosen activities into a calendar, making sure to put the activities on a day where you can actually do them - account for sports schedules, work, and other extra curriculars.
- Make a to do list of all the things you need to do up front to make sure the activities happen, what supplies do you need? what treats do you need to bake? etc.
- Plug your to do list items into your calendar (set aside time to bake, or write notes, etc.)
- Shop for your items and get crackin'
- Make these activities a priority each day!
- Watch blessings abound!