I am one of those SUPER ANNOYING people who is hyper organized when it comes to Christmas. I am a complete mess when it comes to organizing my closets, my car or other important things but I’ve got it together when it comes to Christmas.
I use the month of November to shop, decorate, wrap and complete my holiday cards. The theory is that if I get the work done in November, I will be all calm and relaxed in December. The vision of being curled up by a fire, watching Hallmark channel while snuggling with my family, helps me to get through my CRAZY November. The truth is that my December never looks like the vision I have in my head (my family hates Hallmark ;)). I ALWAYS find more to do and cram our schedule so full that there is little time to breathe.
Last year was a perfect example of this. I scheduled so many service opportunities for my family, that we were left EXHAUSTED by the time Christmas came around. I thought that if I shared the idea on my Kids in Service website, then I should be out there doing it! We practically took on a part time job at the Salvation Army ringing bells once a week for a two hour shift, we volunteered twice at the Food Bank, served lunch to the homeless in the park, shopped for children in need, did the Reverse Advent Calendar, delivered our Christmas jar, baked cookies for the postal employees, visited a woman’s rehabilitation home, gave out a dozen seeds of kindness, Jingled 8 families (EIGHT?!?!), visited the local nursing home and tried to complete EVERY DAY on our Kindness Calendar. It was a rollercoaster of a month with so many emotions. We were TIRED, INSPIRED, STRESSED OUT, JOYFUL and by the end my kids started to resent it all and would groan when it was time to go.
One morning, as I sternly told my children to SMILE while we were ringing bells in the frigid cold, I had an out of body experience. What was I doing? Was I being as kind to my children as I was to the strangers who put change in the red bucket? Was this manic pace of helping others, hurting us? We were running from one project to the next, all while trying to fit in homeschool, chores, making homemade gifts and Christmas fun. That is when I admitted to myself it was too much.
This December already looks a lot different in our house. We decided on a few favorite service projects (many of them simple) to complete over the course of the month and have had to say no to many others. We have also cut way back on our homemade gifts. Instead we are playing daily board games, reading holiday stories together and trying to save some whitespace in our crazy calendar.
Why am I sharing this story? I want to encourage YOU (or anyone who is still reading at this point) to pick only ONE act of kindness to do as a family this holiday. Pick just one! I know there are so many options this time of year but our calendars are also way more hectic. Save those service projects for other times of year when you have more time and space to devote to them. The food bank needs help ALL year long and the nursing home residents need cheering up more in March than they do now with all of the carol groups coming through.
Pick ONE thing and it can be a simple thing. Maybe you buy some $5 gift cards to a local coffee shop to spread them around to people who could use a little cheer. Or pick one tag off of the giving tree, bake cookies for a neighbor or pick one of our other holiday kindness ideas. Whatever you pick, talk it over as a family and make sure that the activity does not add any more stress to the season. It is important to remember self-care for EVERYONE in your home this holiday. If you are not taking care of yourselves, then you will not be able take care of others.
The only way you can be a LIGHT this holiday season is to take care of yourself.