Monday, December 1, 2008

The Giving Tree

Ahhhhhhh! It's December already. Tonight we kicked off our Month of December with ‘A Giving Tree’.

Last Month of Gratitude was just what I needed. And I intend to keep it going for the unforeseeable future.

This month we are trying as a family to focus on the Spirit of Christmas. Yes we are having a simple Christmas but that isn’t going to stop us from going all out on inviting the Spirit of Christmas into our home.

In looking back at childhood Christmas’s and some of our families favorites of years past there is one thing that sticks out. You’ll have to agree that it’s no shocker that it isn’t the gifts that we receive that we remember best, but the family experiences that we share. So this month our herd is Giving Away Christmas Spirit each and every day for the entire month. How do you give the Spirit of Christmas?

Charity, Service, Love are just a few of the things we are going to share.

Remember my tree’s dying branches that I used for some autumn decorations?

I stripped the leaves off, used some leftover white spray paint.

Then we stuck them in an old vase with some of my daughter’s magic jewels (Glass pebbles) that were lying around.

Of course, I Smacked them on a table on top of a pretty snowflake table runner that I got during last years after-Christmas sales. Can I say I’m partial to silver, white and blue? They have to be some of my favorite non-traditional Christmas colors.

Then we placed some simple $1 store ornaments on the simple branches.

On the limbs are 24 of these sweet beaded bags...

(Wedding section, folks) these bags will each hold an act of family service (written on a paper of all things). Every day a different family member will pick a bag then as a family we will complete the service mentioned on the paper.

As an extra incentive we read this sweet little story by Paula Palangi McDonald called, ‘The Last Straw.’

It’s about a family of kids who can’t seem to get along so they make a manger and add a straw to it for every secret service that they give each other. One poor kid gets the name of the one sibling he has the hardest time getting along with. And he gets it every single week. The last week when he gets the same name, he has a mini breakdown…

“I tried to be nice to her, Mom. Even when she saw that the crib leg was too short and called me a dummy for it later, I didn’t hit her. And every week, when we picked new names I thought it would be over. But tonight, when I got her name again, I knew I couldn’t do one more nice thing for her. Mom, I just can’t! If I try, I’ll probably punch her instead. And tomorrow’s Christmas Eve. If I beat up Kelly, I’ll spoil Christmas for everybody just when we’re ready to put Baby Jesus in the crib.”

The whole hitting a punching rang a bell with me for some odd reason.

In the mom’s reply was this,

“You gave your love when it wasn’t easy to give. Maybe that’s what the spirit of Christmas is really all about.”

Hum, maybe, just maybe in helping our kids give service they just might manage to catch some of that Spirit of Christmas in their hearts. I’ll try anything to get a little less contention and a little more love anyday.

So we pulled out this manger...

We made years ago for a church play and the kids collected dried weeds (that could pass for straw) from the road side. And tonight we started filling our own manger for the Christ child. A Straw for every act of service.

Some of the random acts of service that we may do over the next few weeks include some of these ideas. I’m still trying to pin down some really big service projects and if they happen I’ll tell you about them later.

1. Babysit for a Friend so they can go Christmas Shopping.
2. Make bird feeders out of pinecones, peanut butter and bird seeds for the neighborhood birds.
3. Cheer up a sick friend with a visit or phone call.
4. Plant a tree.
5. Clean up trash in a local park.
6. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Donate unused items to a local Thrift Store.
7. Take a meal to a family with a new baby.
8. So secret acts of service around your own home.
9. Donate to your favorite charity.
10. Donate to your second favorite charity.
11. Buy toys for local foster kids.
12. Write letters of appreciation to friends and family.
13. Sing carols and had out homemade Christmas cards at a local senior center. (I’m counting on them to be slightly deaf or there’s no way we can pull this one off.
14. Go Christmas caroling around the neighborhood.
15. Be involved in school and church holiday programs.

And more.

So those are just a few of the ideas we might try on our Giving Tree! And I’m excited about this whole idea.

What are some of the things you all are doing to bring the Spirit of Christmas into your homes this year???


Sara said...

I think that's a great idea, and beautiful too. I can't think of anything, myself. I'm not feeling very Christmassy yet.

Mrs. Darling said...

This actually stems from a Polish tradition. In Poland a doll is laid in the manger and the children add a piece of straw for every good deed they do. If they are naughty that means the baby has no straw to keep warm.

I love the branches all sprayed like that. Great idea. I use branches for my Jesse tree but I dont spray them. Last year I got some silver ones. If Id have been crafty like you I would have made my own!Bummers! :)

Treasure Ann said...

I love that idea. It really helps encourage me to follow through what I had in mind to do this year.

My service that I plan on doing to bring the Christmas Spirit in my home is that these crocheted afghans my mom and I made are going to be giving to the elderly and the sick in my neighborhood and community. I also like the ideas you gave, the one I would like to add on to my Christmas Spirit list is #13-singing Christmas carols and handing out homemade cards at a local Senior Center. Great ideas Fawn, I love them and they really got me motivated to do more service this year for the real Christmas Spirit that all people should have through our loving contributions to where it is needed.
Have a good one.

Tink said...

That's great! We usually pick a family to do Christmas for each year. The kids have fun going shopping for the other kids. We have them save their money to buy a gift for that particular child in the family we chose and then on Christmas Eve night, we sneakily deliver the package of goodies. Last year we got caught and it was totally embarrassing but we still had fun!

Faith said...

I am totally amazed at how your mind works. I am also envious of the imagined vast stores of energy you must have... I got tired just reading this post. Perhaps I need to exercise more.

Dawn said...

What a lovely idea. You could use that branch for Valentines too with hearts :)

Trena Doll said...

For Christmas this year I'm going to bake something. I don't know yet whether it will be a true act of service or sheer holiday folly - I'll have to let you know how it turns out.

(Bake & Share, btw...not Bake & Eat. Ok, maybe eat a little, then share).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the giving tree. I love your ideas. I also love Christmas and being able to bring the light of Christ into the eyes of family, neighbors and friends. I am at an age in life where I can taking an older person to see their friend or shopping anything to get them out of the house brings them joy. I like Trena Doll plan on doing some baking but mostly I will be making candy to take out. I also picked up little nativities at the dollar store that I try to give out each year as just a reminder of what this special season is all about.
Mom- ah