Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The 12 Days of Service

With the official kick-off of the holiday season this past weekend, I have been pondering a lot lately on how I might invite the real spirit of Christmas into our home, instilling a sense of charity in my children's hearts, and teaching them about the true meaning of Christmas. The first thing that came to mind, was service.

How can I implement this lesson in a way that will appeal to their impressionable minds; though, without the situation seeming pre-meditated or preachy (they seem to learn certain life lessons more profoundly when they are delivered in a natural, easily-relatable way)? Then it hit me: The 12 Days of Christmas. Instead of giving gifts to someone each day for the duration of 12 days, however, maybe we could perform little acts of service for others instead.

So, I have been racking my brain these last few days, trying to come up with some ideas for little acts of service that they could perform for The 12 Days of Service, and this is what I came up with:

1. Bake a plate of cookies for a neighbor. Place it on their front porch, ring the doorbell, and RUN!!! Hehe;
2. When going through the drive-thru, pay for the person in line behind you;
3. Put together little baggies of Hershey's kisses (or hugs) with a note that says, "Here are some kisses/hugs from someone who wants you to know you are loved." Then, attach the baggies to several random windshields in a parking lot (at church, for example);
4. Send "thank you" notes anonymously to a few people (teachers, or missionaries serving from your ward, for example) who have made an impact in your life;
5. Put together a few "care kits" in 1-gallon ziploc bags (with toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, gift cards for fast food, a spiritual message, etc.) then keep them in your car. Give them to homeless people who may be in need of these little necessities (I totally stole this one from a friend. Hehe). For some additional ideas on what to pack in the kits, I found this website. It had some really helpful info. :)
6. Make a tie-quilt (an easy DIY project that doesn't require sewing, and the kiddos can easily help out), and give it to a child or person in need. For those of you who want to learn how to make one, here is a cute tutorial that will show you how. The tutorial recommends using 2 1/2 yards of fabric, but you can make it smaller or larger, depending on the size of the child/person you intend to give it to. One thing I would also recommend (that the video doesn't address) is for you to make sure that you cut off the selvage edge of the fabric (usually has the brand of the fabric printed down one side) and then make sure both fabrics line up perfectly BEFORE you start cutting. I usually put a few pins through the fabric before cutting the strips as well to make sure the fabric doesn't slip;
7. Go to the dollar store and pick up a few boxes of crayons and a few coloring books. Wrap a box of crayons with each coloring book, then secretly leave each wrapped package anonymously on the door of a child in your neighborhood;
8. Leave a few extra stamps at the post office - I stole this one too, although I have to admit that I am ashamed for not thinking of it myself. A few days ago, I took L-Bear (my 3-year-old) to the post office to get a stamp and mail his letter to Santa. The lady that was in line in front of us had a bunch of packages that she was trying to mail off, but when she saw that I only had the one letter, she asked me, "Do you just need a stamp?" When I told her, "Yes," she offered to let me go ahead of her, but then said, "Ya know what? I have an extra stamp. Here you go." And she totally gave me a one of her stamps. I thanked her over and over, and knew that the experience was a call for me to pay-it-forward. So, I definitely need to do this one. This woman's kindness also inspired the next act of service:
9. Let someone cut you in line at the grocery store or post office;
10. Donate some books to your local library or to your ward nursery;
11. Leave a basket full of chocolates anonymously in the Relief Society room with a note that says, "Thank you for all you do"; and
12. Leave a plate of cookies in the office (for the office staff) of your child's school.

If you have any other ideas for acts of service that you would like to share, please leave a comment below. I plan to implement The 12 Days of Service initiative into our family home evening next week so we will have plenty of time to prepare for our acts of service in advance, and I look forward to hearing what some of you guys come up with. :)

Thank you all, and Merry Christmas!

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