As the holiday fast approaches, I am thrown into the anxiety of figuring out what gifts to purchase for my family, especially my children. Each year we want our kids to get what they want, but we don’t want to overdo it.
Gift giving can be expensive and too many presents can overwhelm everyone. When they were toddlers, they got excited just opening packages and playing with the boxes. But now they have specific items on their lists and I want to give them what they want, at least some of it.
Thanksgiving at our home, and for many others, is about remembering everything we are grateful. But when December comes, the excitement for my girls shifts to receiving presents at Christmas. My girls start writing lists and cutting up catalogues to show us what they want from us or Santa.
As part of the holiday season, we count down to Christmas day with an advent calendar. Traditionally, with excitement and delight, the girls opened the cardboard boxes filled with waxy chocolates at the end of each day. As they sucked on the cheap chocolate, they relished in the idea that Christmas was one day closer. Our girls also filled a wooden advent calendar with trinkets for Mike and me to open each evening, so that we could participate too.
This year we decided to change our tradition. Instead of receiving a treat or a trinket, our task is to complete one act of kindness each day, for a family member, a friend, or a stranger. At the end of the day, we write the act on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it into the wooden box for that day.
On December 1 we began our modified tradition, we pulled out the wooden box advent calendar from storage in the garage. We wrote our first acts of kindness.
This morning as our day began we reminded each other that each day we need to find a kindness act to complete. The girls chatted excitedly as they loaded into the car heading to school about what they might be able to do to help someone else today. I was thrilled with their energy around giving, how eager they were.
When Christmas day arrives, after we open presents, we will sit together around the table at brunch and share the acts of kindness that we wrote and placed in the advent calendar. We will remember all we did for others this month, and we will share our gift of giving.