Last year, like many others, I was so devastated by the Sandy Hook shooting. I wrote in part of a post:
“In the last few days I have hugged more, shown much gratitude and felt so much pain and love. Patience with my children has been abundant and my to-do list has been trivial. Thank you beautiful angels for inspiring us to do better.”
Our family made 26 angel stars and hung them one by one as we completed an act of kindness. It took us until February because I wanted every single one to count.
We have decided that this will be a family tradition for us every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.There are many thoughtful ideas for holiday traditions, but I tend to be hit or miss each year depending on how busy I am. This one is not only a tradition, it has become a commitment to us because of the purpose behind it.
This was an awakening experience for me. My attention was shifted in such a positive way. Discussing ways to help others became a daily conversation with the kids. It started out as a way of honoring victims and grew to become a way of not only filling my own heart, but also teaching my kids some very valuable lessons on compassion for others.
Some of our stars were simple and some took more time. One star was for helping a person in the parking lot to fit a big box in their car. Another was for posting an ad looking for a free bicycle and then bringing it to one of my clients so he could get to work. I collected and delivered household items and toiletries for a family in need. Pete assisted three different people with moving and packing. I taught four free hoop classes to a girls alternative H.S. We babysat for several different friends who needed a hand. The kids donated a box of their toys. My favorite and final star was delivering Valentines to a nursing home. We cut out quotes about love and put them in a goody bag with homemade cookies and Hershey kisses. It was difficult to hold back tears while watching the kids interact with the residents.
Being kind and helpful to others should happen all year through. People say that the holidays are not about presents, shopping, and meals, but last season was the first time that I felt an authentic sense of giving. These were heartfelt gifts in dedication of special angels. I want my kids to associate the holidays with times of generosity and good deeds. It takes the focus off of the commercialism and instead emphasizes community.
It’s going to be fun to do this in a new city. I’m looking for some more ideas for this year. We will be making blessings bags to hand out to homeless and I am seeking a place where the kids can volunteer with me (maybe a food pantry or donation center). If you have any ideas please post them below. We do not have much to give monetarily but we can give our time and talents.