Where is the Joy?
Just as the holidays begin, my family is faced with some bad health news. How in the world is this fair? We just had Thanksgiving and now Christmas is around the corner, the kids are excited and holiday music is playing everywhere we turn. How do we handle this setback and actually enjoy the holidays? This is the time that we are reaching down into our bootstraps for strength and courage, it’s not exactly the time for dancing and partying for us.
Let us concentrate on creating new traditions and focus our energies on helping others this holiday season. I believe it is there that we can find the joy. Maybe this is how we find the Joy, for this may be God’s roundabout way of showing us the joy in life. I still don’t know why these bad things have to happen to people like my mother, but there has to be something we can do to learn from it.
Courtesy of Flickr/symphony of love
Creating new traditions
It’s important as things change to start new traditions and memories with family. Here are some ideas to try!
- Sledding on Christmas Eve
- Cookie decorating party with kids
- Make homemade gifts
- Advent calendar- activities
- Choose a charity as a family – animal shelter, food shelf, kids, etc.
- Celebrate other holidays
- Game night
- Christmas movies from our childhood
- Shop for each other at the same time
- Make food that grandparents made for holidays
Join in the 25 acts of kindness calendar over on noomii.com (“new-me”) because it’s better to give than to receive!
Random Acts of Kindness
It’s equally important to practice and teach kids about giving back as well as creating family traditions. My grandparents used to give little treats at the holidays to all of the people who helped them throughout the year. They would visit their pharmacy and thank their pharmacist and assistants, the nurses at the hospital, special cashiers at the grocery store, people at the bank, etc. They were so kind it was easy for them to do this. They didn’t have the means to give very much, but each gift was merely a token of thanks to let others know they were thinking of them – some cookies, coffee, teas, etc.
I recently became aware of an amazing program happening near me in Nashua, NH, this year. A woman by the name of Cindy Lynne came up with the idea to purchase and donate filled stockings to the local soup kitchen. These stockings contain items such as toiletries, gloves, hats, gift cards, etc. This idea seems to have snowballed from an elementary class project to a full-fledged community event with many people getting involved and wanting to help.
Another way to give back and to teach your children about giving back while enjoying the holiday season is by creating a random acts of kindness advent calendar. You can do this with any advent calendar by writing up good deeds for each day to fill the pockets. Check out my Pinterest board of Advent calendars for some inspiration!
Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
Here is a list of ideas I’ve gathered for my advent calendar this year!
- Bring in a neighbor’s garbage bins
- Write a letter to a far-away family member
- Leave 3 kind notes for your sibling in places they’ll find them
- Box up 5 toys in good condition for donation
- Bake cookies and a homemade card to take to a senior center
- Send thank you cards to the police and fire stations
- Sort and deliver bags of gently used clothes and shoes for donation today
- Cash in all your pennies and donate them today (collection jars in stores/charities/animal shelters, etc)
- Make a card and send it to a friend for no reason
- Drop off books and magazines to a hospital, nursing home or doctors office
- Give a compliment to the manager of someone who helps you today
- Send someone a small gift anonymously
- Make eye contact and smile at those you encounter today
- Send a thank you note to someone who has helped you in the past
- Leave your change in the soda machine, vending machine, parking meter, etc. today for the next person
- Acknowledge someone who has helped you today, no matter how small the task
- Tell all your family members how much you appreciate them
- Bake & deliver holiday cookies to library employees
- Collect old towels and washcloths and drop off at local animal shelter
- Make holiday cards and tuck them under the windshields wipers of cars at the store/library/school
- Buy coffee for stranger at a coffee shop
- String popcorn and cranberries — and put them outside for the birds
- Tape change (and a note!) to a vending machine
- Pay for the order of the car behind you in the drive-through
What do you think? Do you have any ideas to add to this list? Any cool advent ideas? I would love to add to this list and Pinterest board so just comment below and leave me your ideas and/or links! Advent calendars have such a warm place in my heart thanks to my Grandma who handmade mine when I was a baby.