It's a dilemma I face every year...
How to make the holidays a special time for the family without fostering a consumerist and selfish attitude.
I have been shocked and appalled at how quickly my children become engrossed with their own Christmas wish list.
My mom has reminded me that this is natural for children and I shouldn't become overly concerned immediately. It's not fair to give them presents and expect them not to be dancing with excitement as they anticipate what lies hidden under the pretty paper.
I also remind myself that children really are just miniature adults who live uninhibited. That thought makes my neck and ears burn crimson. What are my children internalizing from me??
In the same breath, it's been a joy to see them labor long in thought over creating or buying just the right present another family member.
This year we are actually forgoing our usual family gift exchange since we're trying to save money for a big family trip that is planned for the spring.
It has been a surprising relief for me to not have to do any Christmas shopping this year. I thought I would miss it more than what I have so far since I love both shopping and gift giving.
A few things that I'm thinking about as December quickly approaches:
1. My ease of life is not the main goal here. Since I am not spending time shopping with the kids I should be replacing that time with something else of equal or greater importance.
2. I yearn for my family to learn that it is MUCH more blessed to give than to receive.
When I saw the idea of a month of random acts of kindness for December, I knew it was something that I wanted to try with our family this year.
There are a multitude of online printables and ideas. Just search 'random acts of kindness' and you'll get hit with an overload of splendid ideas.
I created my own list just because I had a calendar laying around and because I really wanted to customize it for our family. I gleaned some of my ideas from online sources.
You probably can't read the words on the photo above very well. Here are a few of the acts of kindness I included on our calendar:
-serve a hot drink to a family member
-make someone laugh
-write a Christmas letter to a far away relative
-offer to do a chore for your sibling
-make a treat for the mail man
-make a card/treat for the bus driver
-bake soft pretzels to give to the neighbors
-wish someone (besides a family member) a Merry Christmas
-shovel a neighbor's side walk
-let someone go ahead of you in line
-put together a surprise package to put in a vehicle at church
-help mom address Christmas letters
-collect loose change around the house to donate to the Salvation Army kettle
-invite a lonely friend over for dinner
-make a Christmas card for your teacher
I anticipate doing these random acts of kindness with my family in the coming days. I hope to bring my children on board. I desire to grow in kindness along with my family. No act of kindness is too small for big things to happen.
In this season when there is much selfish spending of time and money, let us be people who stand up and extend good will and joy to the world around us.
I'll end with the following quote from Ann Voskamp.
The only way to live a remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you,
but to leave noticeable marks of love everywhere you go.