Judge me; it's OK. I can take it :)
On the 25th of each month beginning in August, I start planning for Christmas. I have a relatively complete list of things to do each month between now and December. Because I plan ahead, by the time December rolls around, I am able to *ENJOY* the month. Like, the ENTIRE month.
As a guest blogger last year for Salt & Nectar, I chronicled my planning in detail.
A reader commented and asked about philanthropy and service during the holidays since I didn't specifically mention that in my post. I generally don't advertise acts of service, so I intentionally didn't focus on that (although I did respond in the comments section with a few highlights of how we give back). One of my favorite bible verses is Matthew 6:3-4:
"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Having said that, I want to share with you something we're doing this year.
It's funny b/c even though I don't usually advertise good deeds, the reality is that much of what we do is done because we learned about it from someone else sharing their good deeds. Had others not told us about their service traditions, we wouldn't necessarily have evolved our giving into what it's become today.
During a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting last year, a friend shared with us one of her family's traditions. And I feel in love with it. Through Gospel for Asia, you can purchase items that help the poorest of families in Asia. Chickens, goats, and even water buffalo are available to purchase. Not only do the gifts provide food/milk, their eggs and milk can often be sold and become a source of income for a family.
I had never heard of such a program and immediately became interested.
I was torn, though, because I had also just recently read an article in my Kentucky Monthly magazine about a Kentucky man, Aaron Collins, whose final wish before he died was to leave a $500 tip for a server at a restaurant. This act of service has since *exploded* and become a national movement. People all over the country are leaving large tips for servers. How cool would it be to leave such an large tip to someone waiting tables right around the holidays?
Having both of these service opportunities on my heart, we decided to do both. Since Christmas 2012, my little family has been saving change in a jar. This year, we'll cash in the change and use half to leave a larger than normal tip and the other half we'll use for Ryan to pick out a few things from the GFA catalog.
Although he's probably too young to truly understand the impact these acts of service will have on others, he's certainly old enough to learn how to give to those less fortunate.
We have our other traditions we'll continue this year like the North Pole Breakfast, and The Elf on the Shelf (oh yea, I'm one of THOSE moms), and of course, the Mini Express. But we're excited about our newest tradition and look forward to incorporating more service opportunities.
Do you have a favorite philanthropy or act of service idea I can steal from you too? ;)