I love the holidays and all of the fun they bring, but if I’m being honest, I’ve been a little off my game recently. Since the election season I have felt lost and seriously in need of some positive mojo. We won’t always see eye to eye with every person we meet. But we can treat each other with kindness and respect. My mission this holiday season is to focus on ways that I can model the way for K in appreciating all that we have and teaching her that giving is more meaningful than receiving.
It’s easy to get caught up in buying the latest toys, clothes, shoes, cars, etc during the holidays. But when I think about past Christmases I don’t remember the gifts I received, I remember the gifts I gave that had meaning for someone.
We always had an Advent calendar counting down the days until Christmas. My brother and I would take alternating turns opening the flap and taking out the piece of chocolate. It was always very special to me. In the spirit of this season, following are some ideas for ways to still count down to the holiday you celebrate and bring some joy into the world.
Book Worm Advent Calendar
Last year my co-worker Chrissy posted a great idea to wrap 25 books so that each night your child(red) can open a book to add to their collection. I loved this concept and did this last year for K. She was so excited each night to see what book she received. Obviously this can quickly become an expensive endeavor, so I purchased packs of small board books and wrapped the individual books. This kept my cost to under $1 per book – a reasonable sum. Other sources for good and inexpensive books are used book stores and library sales. It’s a bit of work but totally worth it.
This year we are trying something new. Rather than receiving an item, we are giving an item. It doesn’t have to be anything flashy or expensive to be helpful. Over the last several weeks I have been purchasing small, brand new items, that we will donate to Catholic Charities. (This happens to be an organization doing some excellent and innovative work to address homelessness in our community. Not to mention, they have some amazingly passionate and kick-ass women leading this charge.)
Each night we will put an item in our donation basket. There are lots of small things that when added up over 25 days, create a really helpful basket. Think of the things many of us take for granted: small bottles of shampoo, soap, tubes of tooth base, toothbrushes, combs, feminine hygiene products, bandaids, water bottles, warm socks, school supplies, small stuffed animals, hand wipes, underwear, deodorant, razors, ponchos, gloves. Admittedly, this isn’t a huge life-altering donation, but if lots of people did this, it could add up to a lot of assistance for members of our community who are the most at risk. I’m hoping to make this an annual tradition.
Letters to Santa
As a kid, we would gather at our church one evening in December and drive around to homes of our elderly members who were house-bound. We would sing carols, bring them cookies, and end the night back at the church enjoying donuts and hot chocolate. I always loved this night because I liked seeing the smiles on their faces. This idea isn’t quite caroling but you and/or your child(red) can send a card or letter to individuals who are no longer able to leave their homes. Getting mail with a special note or small token can remind them they are not forgotten. You could even send one letter/card a day for 25 days. I haven’t done this, but would expect churches, care centers, and other senior organizations could help distribute them. I don’t care who you are, it always feels good to hear, “you’e got mail!”.
If you took the time to read this post, thank you. I hope it provides you with ideas and inspiration for this season. I wish you all happiness and health as we end this year and move forward into 2017. May you have more smiles than tears and take the time to enjoy all of the good things life has to offer. Happy Holidays, friends!