I’m nearly done documenting birthdays and Christmas! Then on with life!
One of my favorite parts of this past Christmas season was the 24 days of giving challenge we did from MultiplyGoodness.com. The challenge was to join with thousands of people to complete a little giving assignment each day leading up to Christmas.
We did it Shumway style (aka…find the shortcut, easy way) and skipped the cute home made garland and set schedule they suggest. Instead I printed out their great (easy to download) printable, cut out the little squares and put them in our little manger basket. For years I've been trying to get us to do good deeds throughout December and put a straw in this manger basket to get it all nice and cozy for Jesus on Christmas eve, but it we all sort of forget about it and it’s a pretty straw-bare little bed. So this year I decided that whenever we completed one of the giving challenges we’d shred the paper and use it as straw to soften the Christ child's bed.
We didn’t follow the schedule from MG. While it would have been cool to join in with so many people doing kind things on the same day, with our crazy holiday schedule I figured we’d need to pick ones that we could accomplish given what was happening on a particular day. So we carved out a few chunks of time for the big ones that required planning and then just picked one during our evening Christmas devotional to complete the next day. It worked! It filled our crazy Christmas chaos with bright moments of giving, of remembering what the season was really all about.
I think every one of us would agree that it was kind of the highlight of the season.
Here are a few of our favorites. I don’t think my kids are going to forget them:
-Leave a Treat for your Mail Carrier. I bought the candy bar and Hazel wrote a sweet letter. The next day in the mail we got a thank you note from Steve, our mail man. He was delighted with his unexpected gift.
- Bring Doughnuts to the Firehouse. Jeff did this on a crazy evening with the kids to give me some more time to get a few things done. They were gone forever and I was beginning to get worried when they all came tumbling into the house pumped up with excitement. The firemen at the house had been so pleased with their visit and the doughnuts that they let them tour the firehouse, slide down their pole and sit in the trucks.
- Hand Out Candy Canes. Hazel had the idea that we should tape candy canes to little pass along cards that our church distributes at Christmas time with a picture of the baby Jesus and a link to this beautiful video. And then we decided the best place to pass them out would be on the T. We hopped on at Oak Grove and there weren’t many people around. The kids were shaking in their boots at the thought of giving something to a stranger. But once we got started it was thrilling to them. We passed candy canes and cards to all 12 people in the car. They were delighted to get a little treat from some cute little children (no one could resist Peter, though he only smiled and held out his gift, never saying a word). When we reached the next stop and got off to get on the next car down everyone in the car wished us Happy Holidays and bid us goodbye. It was the most friendly feeling I’ve ever had on the train. It was a big, daring adventure for those kids and I’m pretty sure it helped them see that the world is a place full of good, kind, happy people (even if they don’t really look that friendly at first glance).
- Pay it Forward – this one gave us another great family adventure. On our annual trip to the dollar store to help the littlest kids get presents we decided to keep our hearts open to feel for someone in the store who might need a little Christmas cheer. I wrote about it in detail back here. The joy of giving ran thick through our veins that night as we saw those surprised and delighted people.
- Perhaps my favorite little challenge was to “seek out an errand from the Lord.” I loved the idea of deliberately finding something in a day that you could do that would allow you to be an instrument in God’s hands for good. I’m trying to do that every day of the year this year.
We brought hot chocolate to our neighbor, left happy notes on people’s car, brought Charlie’s cello teacher a chocolate bar, wrote emails to someone who has influenced our lives, told someone we loved them, gave away used clothes and toys, sent some anonymous money in the mail. Lots of little, low effort things that helped us remember what the season was all about.
And come Christmas eve, that little basket manger was soft for the first time.
Multiply Goodness is doing a 365 days of giving challenge to extend this great feeling throughout the year. You can subscribe to their instagram feed to get reminders of what to do each day. I haven’t done many of the suggestions, but having that pop up on my feed gives me good ideas of small things I can do to make a difference in my world. And it reminds me to seek out my daily errand from the Lord.
Giving just feels good. It helps us to remember that we are all connected, we are all part of something that is bigger than our own lives. It helps us to get out and see beyond our own problems. It makes us happy.
I already have my cards printed out and put in my Christmas box for next year.
Thanks for the inspiration MultiplyGoodness!