Tuesday, December 19, 2017

ADVENT ACTS OF SERVICE


It's hard to believe, but we are only six days away from Christmas. This past month has been a whirlwind - Logan got sick, I lost sleep, Sloane started an intense round of Jekyll and Hyde, Ken had to go away for work, he came back with the flu, I lost more sleep. My nerves are so tightly wound right now.  At the same time, it's also been a strangely even keel December in regards to mood (are the supplements helping? my new house slippers?) and we have had several truly wonderful moments and get togethers with family and friends because of this season. 

I think I mentioned here before, but I felt really ready to get into the holiday season as soon as Thanksgiving was over. We put up the tree and I felt like I had the mental space to think forward to what I wanted this next month to look like.  Sloane is five years old now, and each year during this time, I try to think of ways to encourage her joy and excitement to towards lovely things of this season, apart from just the gifts. This year I wanted to be even more pointed and intentional about this, especially in regards to service for others, in away that she would feel like she could fully participate.  We sat down and agreed on 12 simple things that we could do together this month that would be something that would be loving and serving someone (I was largely inspired by this list). Sloane drew a picture of each activity and we put it up so it could remind us of what we were trying to do this month. I thought about laminating each piece, but Sloane asked that we make it into a little book, so we will probably do that. Maybe if we do this in the coming years, we'll have little booklets of ideas that we can use and reuse. 

My main objective here wasn't to check everything off the list for the sake of feeling accomplished because we "did good" - I really wanted to shift the focus a little bit so that Sloane would get excited in a real way about doing things for other people. We have done almost everything on this list so far, but the accomplishment isn't the goal (although it's easy to get sidetracked by that), it's just about getting to practice the attitude of putting others first.  For example, the photo below is of one afternoon when Sloane made gingerbread cookies (so that we could give to our neighbors). We talked about why we were doing it, discussed how we would feel if someone else did this for us, and talked about each of our neighbors while we made the cookies.  It was great fun and sparked good conversations.  The cookies turned out sort of burnt and not edible enough to give out to neighbors (although the girls happily ate a couple of the cookies), and we haven't had a chance to make another batch, but I'm not stressing about it.  The point wasn't to give out the cookies (although that would have been nice), the point was the conversations I had with Sloane and the attitude we got to practice to do something for someone else. 




Here is the list we have: 

1. Make ornaments for friends
2. Bake a holiday treat for a neighbor
3. Gather and donate several toys to a donation center/toy drive
4. Pick up and recycle trash and local park or playground
5. Send mail to friends who live far away
6. Learn a Christmas song to sing with family
7. Make lunches to hand out to homeless
8. Call or Facetime a loved one to say "I love you" 
9. Read Christmas stories about Jesus 
10. Craft paper snowflakes and write down things you are grateful for on them 
11. Give everyone in your family a smooch and a big bear hug
12. Give a gift for a child in need from the gingerbread tree (at Sloane's after school care)





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