Christmas. It’s a season of giving to others and remembering Jesus and his birth.
But for many of us, especially with children, our season of celebration can turn into one of duty and chaos as we shop, buy, bake, and wrap our way through. Suddenly this time of year when we want to reflect, relax, and make memories becomes anything BUT what we’ve dreamt it could be!
This is where I and two close friends found ourselves last November as we faced another Christmas season. So we decided we wanted to do something different -- sure, there would still be presents and trees, cookies and stockings -- but we wanted to shift the focus off ourselves and our families and back to the true meaning of the season: Jesus and giving to others.
We decided that during the 25 days leading up to Christmas, we would focus on giving to others in our neighborhoods, communities, country, and even the world.
We called it Acts of Advent Kindness. Each day we took turns with our families doing something for others. This included bringing flowers to a neighbor who’d just had surgery, helping with a meal at a local homeless shelter, and thanking our local police department for their hard work. Nationally, we collected toys for Toys for Tots, supported Project Night Light (now known as Project Ignite Light), and sent financial support to hurting families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. Internationally, we supported International Justice Mission, Compassion International, and a wonderful organization called Post Pals, through which our kids were able to send encouraging cards and small gifts to children who are ill.
We found that each day as we shifted our focus (and our kids’ focus) off ourselves and onto others, we were able to enjoy the Christmas season so much more.
In fact, every morning our children would ask us what we were doing that day, who were we going to bless? They looked forward to helping pick out toys for kids and spent hours scouring the Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision Gift catalogs, choosing just the right thing for others in need. Our kids liked being a part of the process and coming up with ideas for Advent Acts of Kindness they could do.
With so much success last year, we’ve decided to do it again, inviting others to join us.
There’s no set rules or guidelines to follow -- you can choose to participate daily, once a week, a few times throughout the month -- whatever works for you and your family’s schedule! If you want to see what my girlfriends and I did for our own AAK (Advent Acts of Kindness) last year, we summarized the entire adventure (pictures and everything!) here. And we created a free printable you can use to personalize as postcards or gift tags to accompany your “acts.”
Kendra Roehl is a wife and mother of three (soon to be four) with a bachelor and masters degree in Social Work. She is also an author, blogger, foster and adoptive parent. She lives in St. Cloud Minnesota where she enjoys throwing parties and writing about the everyday life. You can read more of her thoughts at theruthexperience.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter