It’s Christmastime!! Don’t you love it? People just seem to be a little nicer and a little more willing to help one another this time of year. I see more smiles from strangers and heart-warming little acts of kindness. We’re reminded of needs around us as we hear the jingle of bell ringers outside stores and see giving trees in the malls. We also have the true meaning of Christmas to turn to remember to serve others. The little babe of Bethlehem grew up to be the most selfless person to ever live on the Earth.
What Christmas traditions does your family do that center on service? Do you make cookies and bring them to the neighbors? Carol at a senior center? When I was a kid, our church would do a 12 days of Christmas project every year. We’d get randomly assigned another family from our church and would anonymously drop off a little special something for that family for all 12 days. It was always a challenge not to get caught and fun to think up 12 unique treats/gifts/etc for the family.
I want to tell you about another little Christmas tradition I grew up with. My mom wanted us to focus on Christ at Christmastime and so started a tradition where we put a piece of straw (or yarn) in an empty manger for every act of service done in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
On Christmas Day, we woke up to baby Jesus (doll) wrapped in swaddling bands (white cheesecloth-like kitchen towel) laying on the manger full of our good deeds. There was a lot of straw needed to make that manger nice and soft for Jesus so we were encouraged to do many acts of service, small and great, during December.
Many small acts encouraged us to serve at home. While it does seem that people are way nicer to strangers and friends around Christmastime, it isn’t necessarily any easier to get along with your family at Christmastime than any other time of year. Liam still pokes Sophie in the car. Jane still leaves her legos all over the floor for everyone to step on. Hailey and Mia still fight over dolls. Sure, they all enjoy baking sugar cookies and dropping them off to the old lady down the street but they’re already bickering before that sweet old lady has a chance to close her door. Sound familiar?
Perhaps this little tradition of ours can help your family serve more too. My mom made a little cardboard box and yarn version (shown in these photos) for every child in the children's program at our church one year. Take the idea and do whatever makes the most sense for your family. I just found a pre-made version online that would be wonderful if you’re already stressed that Christmas is coming fast and you have so much to do. Leave it to Soft Enough for a King to do the hard part for you. I’m guessing there are plenty other options online; looks like Etsy’s got at least one. You’ve got choices.
Now, how to get that hay in the manger? Open the door for Mom when she’s bringing the groceries in. Offer to help get dinner ready. Get baby’s bath all ready for him so Dad doesn’t have to. Help little sis tie her shoes. Fold the laundry and put it away. The only rule, at least in our house, was that the service had to be done without being asked. Other homes even had a fun twist that 2 pieces of straw/yarn could be added if the service was done without being discovered. There are so many little ways to serve just in your home. We also have several Little Hands Can Events planned this Christmas season. Please join us when you can! They will be so fun. Come serve with us!