Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

The other day, I was talking to Sam about Christmas. We had a real heart-to-heart about giving, receiving, being kind and spreading Christmas spirit. After our talk, he looked up at me with his big, blue innocent eyes and said "Wow, and I thought Christmas was all about presents."

While I know that Sam is 6 (a somewhat greedy age) and always good for a laugh, it bothered me that he seemed to have no idea about the true meaning of Christmas. I decided it was time for a Christmas intervention.

As a child, I always had an advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. That tradition has been passed on to my children by my mother, who gives them an advent calendar each year at Thanksgiving.

This year, in addition to the advent calendar, my kids will be counting down to Christmas with a "giving tree."

On the tree are 24 paper bags filled with pieces of paper that describe small ways my boys can take part in the spirit of the season by giving or sharing with others. I tried to make this fun while also focusing on doing for others.

Today, the boys opened bag #1 and were given gratitude journals. On each day of advent (and hopefully thereafter), they will jot down 3 - 5 things each day that they are thankful for. I was surprised when they ran to write in their journals immediately after getting them! Filling in the journal is their "ticket" to take a bag off of the tree.

Each day's "task" is simple, but meaningful. For example, on Day 2 each boy gets a candy cane and one for each of them to share with a friend at school.

Later this month, they will have a chance to order a "cup of joe" for a soldier overseas, make a bird feeder, send a surprise gift to a far-off relative, make a thank you card for the crossing guard, take cookies to the fire station, etc.

There are only 1 or 2 bags that have a little piece of Christmas candy inside--mostly because I was running out of ideas! I really hope my boys enjoy preparing for Christmas as much as I enjoyed preparing for Advent!


Shonah said...

Thats awesome Mary Karen! I would love the list of your ideas. We too are making some new traditions this year and the giving tree sounds right up out alley:)

Denise said...

That's a great idea, Mar! Have you ever heard of a Jesse tree? I read about it last year, and meant to gather materials to do one with the kids this year, but never did. Google it if you haven't heard of it ... I think I'll try to incorporate your ideas along with it as well!