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Thursday, December 5, 2013

12 Days of Giving plus 12 Days of Books

As I am preparing for Christmas this year, I can’t help but reflect on the drastic changes that have come our way this past year. Obviously, my health kind of took a quick, downward spiral and our eating habits are somewhat crazy. I mean really, I never thought I’d be eating quinoa, coconut oil or bean sprouts and last year I didn’t even know what gluten really was. I also never thought I’d be writing a blog post, but life happens! I know I’ve said it before, but all of this has truly opened my eyes about life and what it should be like. I will admit, I’m the crazy mom at Christmas. We start jamming to Christmas tunes about mid-November. We put the tree up before Thanksgiving (oh my gosh, that’s like a smack in the face to Thanksgiving, I know). I search for every possible gift I can give for anyone until I’m literally out of money. I just love everything about it. I love the happy faces, the gracious “thank yous”, the cookies (and other food), the warmth, that fuzzy feeling… I love it all. However, it makes me crazy. I focus too much on making sure everything is perfect, no one is left out and we all are so stuffed we can’t move. I simply don’t have the energy for that right not, but it makes me think about what is important. Making sure every person we know has a gift isn’t important. It’s making every person we can feel like they are loved. Hence, our new project – 12 days of giving. I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of it, but I’m the first person in my family to so I’m taking credit for our household anyway! I want to teach my children the importance of this holiday season – something I’ve failed at in previous years. I want them to know that gifts are nice but it’s the acts of kindness that mean the most. To do this, I must practice what I preach and show them these efforts and make us work together as a family. I’m very much looking forward to it! So here are the rules: have fun, be happy and enjoy yourself! That’s it! Can your act of giving be a material item? Sure! But it doesn’t have to be. Do you have to only help strangers?? Of course not, help whoever needs it! What if you forget a day? No worries! Catch it up the next day, just don’t stress about it! Do you have to do 12 days of giving?? No way – do 14, do 25, do 1, do whatever you can or want. In addition to our giving, we will also be celebrating our acts with each other. Each night after we are finished giving, we will come home and open a gift (all of which are books! Hence the 12 books of Christmas!). My kids love to read books and I think it is a great bonding time for everyone.

Here’s what we are doing: starting on Dec. 14th we will pick one act of giving to do that day. We don’t have the activities set in stone because you never know what the weather might do or if someone is sick. After we complete the act, we all come home, sit by the tree with a cup of cocoa and open a wrapped book. We then read the book as a family before we head to bed. We repeat the process for 12 days, ending on Christmas. At the end of the 12 days, not only will the kids have 12 new books to look at and read each day, but I hope that we have made a difference for 12 different people/thing in some way. I also hope that we can continue our acts of giving throughout the year, not just during Christmas! If you are participating, share your ideas so we can all learn and get tips from each other! Plus, we may need new ideas for next year! Here’s a list of our activities we’ve thought of so far:

  • Preparing goody bags for the homeless – complete with toothbrush, toothpaste, water bottle, gum, granola bar, bar of soap, notepad, pen, maybe $5 or a gift card to a restaurant (don’t pass judgment, you don’t know their story or their need).
  • Donating to the local food pantries
  • Donating toys to a local charity – toy drives, Salvation Army, etc.
  • Volunteering as a bell ringer – I did this in college and loved it, plus they always need volunteers!
  • Raking leaves at our priest’s home or at an elderly couple
  • Baking Christmas treats to take to our neighbors
  • Donate dog/cat treats to the local vet’s offices or pound
  • Mailing Christmas cards to the nursing home residents
  • Helping an elderly person load their groceries
  • Adopting an “Angel” from a local Angel tree
  • Donating books to the library
  • Donating toys to the daycare
  • Baking cookies for the police department, fire department or sheriff’s office
  • Writing letters to family members telling them why you love them
  • Send some Christmas goodies overseas to troops
  • Send some Christmas goodies to 3rd world countries (check out Samaritans Purse)
  • Participate in Santas for Seniors – it involves donating items to the elderly for Christmas, like an Angel tree
  • Participate in a coat drive – my kid’s coats are like new but too small!
Here's our 12 wrapped books, just waiting to be opened!

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