Recently, I was so touched by a blog post I came across detailing the 35 acts of kindness celebrated by a mom and her family in honor of her 35th birthday. Random Acts of Kindness isn’t a new concept but the idea really resonated with me this year as I feel that my kids sometimes feel overly entitled and their behavior towards each other more often than not seems less than kind. We’re always, always, always talking to them about being gentle with one another and appreciating how fortunate and blessed they are. In the past, I’ve sometimes felt that Christmas is this crazy, frenzied all out present fest and yet they always seem to want more. I decided this was the perfect time to remind them that this season is about giving, and not just receiving. So, we’re going to spend the next 24 days counting down to Christmas with daily acts of kindness. We began today by driving down to Sacramento to hand out rain ponchos and flashlights to the homeless. It has rained here non-stop for the past week and Doug suggested a great way to begin would be to help some folks who might have no other choice than to be out in the weather without any/much shelter.
We were able to hand out three of the raincoats but hard a hard time finding anyone who wanted the other two. One of the individuals we offered a package to was in obvious distress, wet and shivering, wearing shorts and dragging a sweatshirt along on the ground behind him. Unfortunately, he refused any help. The girls were a bit distressed that we couldn’t help him but felt good to have tried. Even though we wanted all of the kids to be involved in the process today, as we were going to be approaching individuals on the street, Doug thought it best if he took one child with him at a time. I stayed back with the other two who would spend their down time splashing in the puddles...
And disco dancing.
"My experience of helping the homeless by giving them ponchos and flashlights made me feel really happy. I was happy I could help them. We had five packages to hand out, but only three people took them; one was in a sleeping bag, one was on the street corner, and one was riding his bike from gas station to gas station. We tried to give the other two to the last two people that we saw and they obviously needed help but they denied the package. Otherwise, I feel really good about helping them and I would like to do it more often."
We also read “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen, a story about a little girl, left alone to fend for herself out in the cold. It’s a sad story but more reinforcement, I think, for the kids regarding how we need to look out for others and help where and when we can. I love this quote from George Washington Carver:
“How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”
Such wise words.
When we got home, Doug had a science experiment waiting for the kids. We’re trying to put together some type of science experiment each Saturday afternoon and today Doug was teaching the kids about conductors and resistors...with a hot dog. I had Lauren tell me in her own words about the experiment:
"First, Daddy and I drilled through a piece of wood and took the wires and drilled nails halfway and wrapped copper wire around the nails and drilled it more. He taped the bottom of it so it wouldn’t come out, so the electricity wouldn’t come out the bottom, and it would go to the top and we could cook hot dogs. The nails were conductors but the hot dog was a resistor and that’s why it got hot because it resisted the flow of electricity from one nail to another. "
While we were roasting hot dogs electrically, a package was delivered to our door straight from the North Pole. When Lauren saw the return addressee was Santa Claus, she nearly had a reindeer. She started screaming for Anna and Jacob and wouldn’t let anyone rip the wrapping and made sure to save it because it had Santa’s hand writing on it. We opened the package and found the following letter. NOTE: This letter is a modified version of the beautiful original found at "A Small Snippet".
Please meet Peter Chubbycheeks, our new family elf. He will be with us through Christmas Eve. I really liked Leana's idea about teaching the children about forgiveness and giving them an opportunity to try and help Peter make better choices, as opposed to just worrying about the naughty or nice list.
Lauren and Jacob are SO EXCITED about this little elf, I mean beyond crazy excited, cuckoo thrilled. They've been talking about him non-stop. They're a little unsure about the idea that he comes to life at night and I even heard my 3-year old say, "That freaks me out." Lauren, however, has been busy making paper reindeer for Peter to take with him to Santa on his nightly treks back to the North Pole. Our poor Anna is feeling under the weather and has been running a fever most of the afternoon. Hopefully, Peter Chubbycheeks will do something funny tonight to help her feel better tomorrow.
So, that was our day in a nutshell, or in our nuthouse, whichever way you want to look at it. It was a good start to our December of giving and I'm excited about tomorrow. :)