Christmas Giving Wrap-Up

I’ve totally unplugged for the last few days.   I usually check Facebook twice a day, log-on to the blog at least once a day and check both of my emails regularly throughout the day.  And, since I have small children I did a lot of our Christmas shopping online, always searching for the best deal and probably spending more time on it than completely necessary.  I needed a break from my computer and I took one.  It has been so nice!

But I’ve not forgotten about you!

Here is what we did to round out our 13 Days of Christmas Giving:

  1. Donated to Christmas in Delta.
  2. Wrote notes to thank each of the boys’ teachers and took them treats.  Emron insisted on taking treats to his music teacher, too.
  3. We helped the Office Depot guy outside of our building.  He was asking how to get to a certain unit when my hubby unexpectedly offered to take care of it for him.  We hiked up the stairs and helped him out.
  4. We made cookies and took them to our neighbors.
  5. The boys made special Christmas cards and a fudge and cookie plate for the lady who works in the office of our complex.  She is always giving the kiddos treats and we wanted to thank her for all of her kindness.

Admittedly, we didn’t complete all of the activities that I had planned.  I really wanted to buy hot chocolate for the bell ringers on a cold day, but every time we tried, they weren’t there.  I had planned on going to the park to pick up garbage, but it was either rainy, or wet, or super cold.

Even though our 13 Days of Christmas Giving did not go exactly as planned I think it was a success, and something we will do in years to come.  I asked the boys how they felt about the exercise and they both said they liked it.  Emron’s favorite was thanking the firefighters and giving them a treat.  Eli loved putting candy canes on the neighbors doors.  For me, the take away was this: Make everyday a day of Christmas Giving.  It’s a bit corny, but I think that by taking a little time to look around, I’ll be able to see even small acts of kindness.  It kind of goes along with being unplugged; instead of focusing on my phone it’s more rewarding to focus on the people around me.  It feels good to give.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

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Random Act of Christmas Kindess: An Exercise in Being Flexible

For those who know me, it’s no secret that I’m a planner.  I set out to do something and I do it.  This personality trait can be helpful.  For example, if I’ve decided to run six miles one morning, I’ll run six miles regardless of the weather or how I’m feeling.  It also gives a tremendous amount of structure to my days as a stay at home mom.  For each day of the week there are assigned chores.  Monday: clean the bathrooms, Tuesday: dust and vacuum, Wednesday: mop the floors, you get the idea.

Since getting married and especially since having kids being a planner has become more difficult.  There are still many things that I can control, but not everything fits into my plan for the day; like sick kiddos and unaccounted for messes, or even positive things like the opportunity to give extra loves to the babe that is supposed to be tucked in bed or share a laugh while playing Legos instead of getting the laundry done because it’s laundry day.  My plans can actually be a hindrance at times.  I accept this and I own it and I’ve been working on being more flexible.  I’ve become less selfish and more able to go with the flow.  Honestly, I’ve grown up a lot.

Enter our 13 Days of Christmas Giving activity.  I thought hard about what I wanted to do with the kids; things that would help them to feel the power of giving and that they would understand.  As a family we’ve discussed each of the activities and fielded lots of questions.  We’ve been moving forward with our Giving and it’s been amazing.

Delta High SchoolThen came a plea from a friend I know from high school.  I didn’t realize she had moved back to our rural town with her family.  Furthermore, I never stopped to think about giving back to my old stomping grounds.  I was focused solely on the community outside of my front door.  This friend proposed raising $3000 to give to families within our town, Delta; people who don’t have warm coats to combat the Colorado winters, who don’t have shoes; folks who certainly would not know Christmas this year.

When I first read through her solicitation, I found a way to convince myself that I wasn’t going to help.  I had my plan and my plan did not include giving to Christmas in Delta.  We were going to give toys to Toys for Tots and put together toiletry kits for the local women and children’s shelter.

A week passed and still I hadn’t forgotten about this idea to give to the people in my hometown.  I wrestled with the idea.  I wasn’t sure how to explain to the boys that I went online and gave money to families that wouldn’t have Christmas without our help.  The toiletry kits and toys seemed so much more tangible, that’s how I planned it.  But then I thought back on the conversation I shared with my five-year-old.  He didn’t understand what it would be like to live in a shelter or how someone could even end up there; and why didn’t they just buy a house, he asked.  The complexities were lost on him.  So did it really matter if we gave locally or to my hometown?  It wasn’t what I planned, but giving back to the place I came from felt so right and so I did it.

I decided to be flexible, to change the plan a little.  My friend is just $100 short of her fundraising goal as I write this and I am grateful I was able to be a part of her effort!

RACK: Thank the Firefighters and Crossing Guard

Yesterday the big guy had a delayed school start, but the little one didn’t; I took the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with my first born.  I was on top of things and had packaged some big soft ginger cookies in festive Tupperware.  Then we went out for hot chocolate and sat peacefully enjoying our drinks while working on thank you cards for the town volunteer firefighters and the school crossing guard.  When the cards and the drinks were finished we headed to the fire station.

Outside of the Fire Station

I was a little nervous just showing up, but after several drive-bys I noticed a big doorbell.  We got out of the car, card and cookies in hand and rang the bell.  The door opened and we were greeted by one of the friendliest firefighters I’ve ever seen.  E handed over the cookies and card saying “Merry Christmas!”  We were invited in for a tour and got to see everything; so exciting!

Fire Truck

Then it was off to school.  When we handed the crossing guard her gift, she was a little surprised; it’s a bit early for Christmas after all.  But that afternoon as we crossed the street safely she told us how much she enjoyed the cookies!

It was a great day.  Pretty much the best day a five-year-old boy could ask for: extra time with mommy, touring a fire station, sitting in an old-time fire truck, giving gifts, and going to school after two days off!  It’s been so much fun watching the boys offer to give, give, give for the holidays.  I think, and I type this with crossed fingers (okay, not really, that would be tough), they get it.  They get how nice it feels to give; to do something for someone else and maybe, just maybe they are beginning to gain an understanding that not everything is about them.

That’s our RACK adventures for now!

13 Days of Christmas Giving

Confession:  I’m having a really hard time getting on board with the whole “Christmas Spirit” thing this year.  Maybe it’s because extended family is not close by and there are no plans to see anyone anytime soon.  Maybe because the weather won’t make up it’s mind; one day is 20 degrees the next it’s 60.  Maybe it’s because Christmas consumerism has been thrust upon us since before Halloween…  Perhaps, it’s a combination of all of these things.

BUT!  Instead of dwelling in my lack of spirit we’ve forged on, as a family and begun our 13 Days of Christmas Giving.  I’ve been inspired by other families who count down to Christmas with Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACK) but my kids have been little, or my life has been crazy, or both.  This year would be different, this year I decided we could handle some form of the 24 day count down and opted to tackle 13 “projects” to help us feel the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving.  This is what we’ve done so far:

RACK 1: Count your blessings and write them down.

My five-year-old tied what he had been learning at school into the discussion.  He told us about wants and needs and the difference between the two.  I just love when the home and classroom work seamlessly as a team!  We continued working on our list and came up with some really good ideas.  Toward the end things got a little silly; the three-year-old counted “Mon Shooters” among his blessings (and yes “Mon Shoter” is in the entire family’s vocabulary although none of us really know what it is).

RACK 2: Leave a candy cane on the neighbor’s doors.

We live in a condo and so it was really easy to hit a lot of doors in a short amount of time.  The boys had fun and loved the idea that someone would come home to find a sweet surprise at their door.

Candy Cane RACK

RACK 3: Leave popcorn on the Redbox machine.

Yesterday we placed popcorn packages on the Redbox machine yesterday so anyone renting a movie could enjoy a movie with complimentary popcorn.

Redbox RACKSo, that’s it for now.  I’ll share more as we complete different RACKs and hopefully as we do more for others I’ll start to feel more Christmas like.  Maybe some holiday baking will help…  Stay posted!