I want to share a simple tradition that our family has that has brought a lot of joy and Christ-like feelings during the Christmas season for us. It’s so easy for us (and our kids!) to start thinking a whole lot about ourselves during the holidays. What do I want for Christmas? How many presents am I going to get? What is Santa going to bring ME? I feel like this little tradition has helped get the focus off of “me, me, me”, at least a little, and thinking of others.
On the first day of December (or you know, some time during the first week if we miss the first day), we put everyone’s name in a jar and pick names. Of course if you pick your own name you put it back and pick a new one. And it’s just like “secret Santa” but we call it “service Santa” because the emphasis is less on buying the person a present or presents, but doing little acts of service for them (in secret) all month long. On Christmas Eve we all reveal who we had and have a good laugh reminiscing on our attempted sneakiness.
This has grown to be my dearest tradition. I will admit sometimes I rig the name drawing so siblings that are having an extra hard time getting along draw each other. Nothing softens the heart like service. And I just relish in my kids coming to me all month asking for ideas. I try to keep a little stash of small treats or special items like hot cocoa bombs to give people when they are really stuck for ideas. But like I said, the focus really isn’t on giving them “things” but doing things for them.
This past Christmas I walked out to the garage to find my 8 year old scrubbing his brothers shoes. “What are you doing?” I asked him. “I know Cameron loves these shoes, and I noticed they were muddy, so I’m cleaning them.” He left one of the tags inside his shoe with a chocolate. That was pretty much the highlight of my Christmas season right there.
We also leave a bucket of these tags in our family room so that whenever you do something for your person you can leave a tag behind to let them known something was done. Otherwise they might not realize that someone had tidied up their room or made their bed and forgot they left it a huge mess.
Popular service ideas in our house are: making someone’s bed for them, doing their chore for them (they’ll often ask me what is Jackson’s chore today?”), cleaning their room, making their lunch for school, hiding notes or treats in their backpack, clearing their place at dinner, offering to get things for them etc. Usually by Christmas Eve everyone knows who has them because they’ve noticed how kind they have been towards them.
I hope this idea can be a blessing for your family like it has been for ours. You can download the tags with the form below, Merry Christmas!