“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way…” Yep – y’all know what time of year it is! It’s Christmas!! The most joyous time of the year. Many of us have family traditions to celebrate the season. This week I thought I’d share with you ours.
We do several things that a lot of families do at this time – baking, decorating to Christmas music. Our favorite family tradition though is our Advent Calendar. Our advent is not the normal collection of small boxes containing treats or parts of the nativity. Ours is a calendar of kindness. Beginning on December 1st every year, we celebrate 24 days of kindness – be it to others or ourselves. We all look forward to the different acts that we will be asked to perform. There are several that we do without fail, but I usually try to add something new every year just to keep the family on our toes. Some are very simple, and some are more in depth. There is always a mix so that we don’t become overwhelmed and it doesn’t end up feeling like a chore.
The following is our advent for this year:
- Pick someone from the Salvation Army Angel Tree to shop for (Usually we pick two – one elderly person and one child. Sadly, this year our budget dictated only one. Every year though, the kids choose who we will shop for. They take the job seriously and are very thoughtful in their decision making. Of course, we would love to choose far more than one or two, but well – money.)
- Write up your Christmas Gift List (This not only includes the wish list, but also who you would like to give gifts to.)
- Create and send Christmas Cards
- Make a donation to a Salvation Army bell ringer without going into the store to buy something
- Tape $1 bills to vending machines (This year Aidan carried this one out on his own on his college campus.)
- Smile at everyone today – even strangers (All too often we forget how powerful a simple smile can be.)
- Do a chore for a family member
- “Drop” a Christmas Card with cash enclosed in a store to bless a stranger
- Hide dollars all through a dollar store – Put $1.07 (so tax is included) in a baggie
- Hold the door open for people today (I especially like these simple ones. Although I would hope my kids do these type things regularly, I still feel that it is important to add it to the advent at times as a reminder.)
- Appreciate good service – look in the eye, smile and say thank you to everyone who serves you today (I had added this one because I realized after a trip to the grocery store one day how easy it is to go through a check out line and never make eye contact with the cashier.)
- Make and decorate Christmas Cookies (and other goodies)
- Take a plate of cookies/goodies and a homemade Christmas card to your school’s office, work office or favorite business
- Get together some cookies/goodies for trash and recycle guys to say, “Thank You!”
- Leave a popcorn surprise at Redbox DVD machines (We put a bag of microwave popcorn and some movie candy in a zip-loc bag with a Christmas greeting then tape the bag to the screen of the machine.)
- Candy Cane bomb a parking lot (Aidan specifically requests this one year after year. I’m not real sure why he enjoys leaving candy canes on cars in a parking lot so much, but I won’t deny him his pleasure.)
- Hang mistletoe and catch someone under it
- Dance to your favorite music
- Text, tweet, email or give in person a compliment to at least 3 people
- Wrap presents and put them under the tree (We usually wait until close to Christmas to put presents under our tree because either Ryland or the cats will end up unwrapping them early.)
- Family movie night – Christmas style! Complete with fire, hot cocoa and popcorn
- Find funny Christmas videos on YouTube together
- Call a family member to wish them a Merry Christmas
- Drive around looking at Christmas lights and play Christmas Bingo (We have driven around to look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve since Paix was a baby. This is a tradition from my own childhood that I wished to pass down to my kids. The Christmas Bingo part is put in there to make things a little more interesting as the kids have gotten older.)
I wish I could take credit for all the tasks being original thought, but I can’t. Years ago, I was looking into advents and came across this idea for an advent of good deeds and loved it. Google is awesome at finding ideas, and the kids and I will brainstorm at times.
Do you have any Christmas traditions that your family hold dear? I would love to hear about them in the comments below. I hope that what you take away from this post is that above all, this time of year is a celebration of love regardless of your religion. Be kind to one another and yourself!