We are starting a new December tradition today. I try on new tradition ideas every year; some stick and become lasting traditions and some just don't fit. I am hoping that this one is a keeper for our family and the way we try to celebrate the holidays.
Inspired by Colleen Kessler's writings about Random Acts of Kindness with her kids in December, I started thinking up something for my kids to do. We do The Great Toy Give-Away, but I wanted something more. At the holidays, even the most conscientious of parents get caught up in the focus on consumerism and bacchanalian delights and I wanted some way to shift our focus just a little bit to the idea of a Season of Giving.
I've also always wanted one of these advent calendars with little doors. It's the kind of thing that I would have loved as a kid. But I don't like random toys and gimcracks – there will been enough in their stockings. I wanted to have an advent calendar with a purpose.
I have come up with more than 30 small good deeds that my kids can do. Things in our home, around the community, with family and friends, or for strangers. I printed them out on slips and put one good deed behind each little door of the advent calendar that I found at the thrift store. I made extras because I might not know how each day and good deed is going to go and I wanted back-ups. I stored these in the box for the 25th because I know Christmas morning is going to be too crazy to track another good deed. I hope to write a note to the kids about how much their good deeds helped and put it in the Christmas morning box to be discovered if they open it.
When I put the good deeds in each little box, I looked at the calendar. I did my best to line up each good deed with things I knew might be going on that day. We are going to the beach for a few days for the Solstice, so one of those days the good deed is to take a walk on the beach and pick up litter. On Christmas Eve they are to notice a mess around the house and clean it up with out being asked. On an errand day they are going to get some coats at the thrift store and donate them to the family shelter. On a Quiet At Home Day we will send letters to people we love, telling them why we love them.
I had hoped to fit two Kisses in each box, but those boxes are So Tiny! So the kisses sit atop the box for the 25th. I can put them out each morning so there isn't the temptation of chocolate un-guarded in the calendar. I debated the candy, but doing good deeds is a sweet thing to do and I figured a little physical sweetness would help them be excited about the deeds each day.
I think that this new addition to our holidays will fit well. We don't do a lot of school work during December, so this will add an element of that to our day. The experience and lessons of each good deed will be a good thing to talk about as we have our candlelight dinners each night this month, as our focus draws down and calms in the glow of our candles.
This afternoon we went down to the free weekly (outdoor) medical clinc. The kids had made a big pot of soup and we shared it with anyone who wanted a bowl of warm soup. Sister-Bug loved it – walking up to strangers and offering them soup is really her speed. Brother-Bug had less fun – he's pretty shy and doesn't like to be on the spot.
Tomorrow another good deed, and the next day and the next day. I'll let you know how it goes…
A Partial a List of our Good Deeds
Many of our good deeds are specific to people and situations in our area. But here areI some of the deeds behind the little doors…hopefully to inspire you to go out and do your own good deeds! If you want more ideas, Google “do good deeds” and inspiration will fill your screen.
- Take flowers to a nursing home.
- Buy some art supplies and donate them to the children's ward at the hospital.
- Compliment 3 people today.
- Send a loving letter to someone.
- Take pet food and treats to the pet shelter.
- Take a walk and pick up litter.
- Send Christmas cards to members of the military.
- Take a donation to the food bank.
- Hold the door for people when we are out.
- Play a game with your sibling that they want to play. Let them make the rules.
- Make bookmarks and hide them in library books.
- Bring a holiday treat to a favorite local business.
What can you add? I'm always looking for ideas; I hope to evolve this every year, moving and changing the good deeds as the kids grow in confidence and competence.