This year in our family we are focusing on Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. I saw this idea on another blog and decided to do it, but change it up a little. We wanted to teach the children (and ourselves) to look around us and see things that we can do for others and then to do them. There were some things we planned out and prepared for - like taking treats to our neighbors, the teachers' lounge, the bakery (the kids wanted to give them treats since they give everyone else treats all year long) and their friends at school. The girls also gave change to the Salvation Army guy and we bought toys to give to the children of military parents (something they were doing locally here). The other things though were truly random. The kids have been working on serving their family members throughout the day and their classmates. Each night when we read our scriptures and have family prayer we name one random act of kindness that we have done that day. The kids have been doing a pretty good job with it. Michael and I have also become more aware of things we can do. There have been things as simple as helping each other zip up coats or holding open the door to doing another's chore or playing a game with some one. Some nights it has been a struggle for some to come up with something to share but for the most part they have several things that they want to tell us. It has really helped change the spirit in the home and soften our hearts towards each other.
I think their favorite thing has been taking candy canes to everyone at school. We divided the candy canes up into cups for each classroom and put a note on each one saying that they had been RACK'd. Then one night when Dillon had practice at the school they took the cups and set them in front of the principal's office so when she got to school the next morning she found them. The kids did a pretty good job keeping it a secret. Olivia was the only one that spilled the beans :) She did good until they started talking in class about what an act of kindness is and then she told them that's what we did! It was fun for them to see the reactions of their classmates and listen to them try to figure out who it was from. The preschool teacher told me her class thought it was from Santa, God, or some one they didn't know! I subbed in the fourth grade class that afternoon and some of the boys were trying to get the attention of one of the janitors. He was out shoveling the walk and the boys wanted to do a random act of kindness and give him a candy cane because he was working so hard.
I'm not trying to brag or anything, I just wanted to share our story with everyone because it has done so much good for us. With six kids so close in age there are times that I think the fighting and arguing and tattling will never stop! Doing this and helping them be aware of their family members in a different way has really helped that. Yes, we still have our moments where I need to send everyone to their opposite corners, but it has been better. The older kids have included the younger kids. The younger kids have "allowed" the older kids to play with them :) (that has been Olivia's act of kindness several times). We talk about serving and it's importance. It has taught them that there are so many different ways to serve each other. We, of course, tie it back to the Savior and our reason of celebrating this wonderful season. He came to this earth as a baby. He spent His whole life in service and then He gave His life for us. We are taught to follow His example and so we serve and love others. In John it says, "A new commandment I give uto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." If we can love those around us and serve them, our hearts will be open, our lives will be full and we will be helping to make our world a better place.
Another blessing that has come from this is being able to notice kindness shown to us. We are so blessed with so many wonderful friends. There have been so many kind things done for us. An offer to buy all the kids new winter coats, birthday rides in a golf cart, letting the kids be in on a cousins picture with the star quarterback even though they weren't his cousins, offers for help with snow removal, phone calls, treats, invitations for Christmas Eve, hugs on the street... so many things. It has opened our eyes to all the blessings we have and made us more grateful for the acts of service shown to us. I am so glad that we decided to do this and that the kids have so willingly and excitedly (not sure that is a word) done this. It has added more meaning to Christmas for us this year and has brought us closer together as a family.