Remember when Christmas was really about bringing family together, the birth of Christ, and encompassing the spirit of giving?
I do... But just barely.
These days, the Christmas season seems to be all about Black Friday deals, Cyber Monday Madness, and making sure we have more Christmas presents under the tree than last year.
Society makes it way too easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. We so easily become consumed with pop culture telling us that if we don't camp out in front of Best Buy and get that flat screen TV, well then, we might as well sleep through December 25th.
But my question is this: Since when did we need to 'buy' love from the very people that already love us unconditionally? And why can't showing someone how much they mean to us consist of quality conversation and random acts of kindness...rather than topping last year’s Christmas gift with an even more extravagant one this year?
I am disappointed in myself for getting caught up in this materialistic version of Christmas, when I know deep down it should be about spending time with those I love most and giving to others less fortunate than me. I don't want to get swept up in the shallow shopping frenzy anymore. That is why I came up with a project designed to shift our focus from what society tells us Christmas should be all about....to what the true meaning of Christmas really is about....
and that is the spirit of giving.
**THE 12 GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS**
Exactly one year ago today, I had this random idea. The simple thought was to do one kind act for a stranger every day for the twelve days leading up to Christmas. The last thing in the world I expected was that, in a span of two weeks, over 1,500 people across the globe… and in 18 different countries would commit to doing the very same thing. Last year, I was the one that came up with the Pay It Forward ideas for each day… This year, I didn’t want it to be about me or my ideas. I wanted YOUR input. So the 12 acts of kindness came from some amazing friends that live in 10 different states and 3 different countries.
The 12 Gifts of Christmas was designed to help us focus on what truly matters and get in the spirit of giving that Christmas was meant to inspire. Each day, for the twelve days leading up to Christmas (*December 13-24*), I ask that each of us do one random act of kindness. Simple as that. I am honestly SO excited to do this again and I hope you are as well!
I only have one request:
*Document your experience. This can include keeping a journal, or even taking pictures of your personal experiences. That way, each of you can submit to me your finished journal anytime during the week of Dec. 26-Dec. 31.*
On January 1, I plan on creating a separate web page explaining what The 12 Gifts of Christmas Project is all about. I will post each of your projects to the website in hopes that we will inspire even more people to participate in 2013. Now I’m not going to lie here. I still have not created the website from last years’ submissions. I’m going to blame it on the fact that I’m a bit technologically challenged -- so if anyone would be so kind as to volunteer to create a web page, I would appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. I do have several blogs from people that documented their first experience participating in the 12 Gifts of Christmas and I would love to share those with the world.
I am hoping this encourages everyone to live out the true meaning of Christmas. I believe with all my heart that it will transform countless lives for the better. In fact, I'm even going to go as far as to say that it will most likely be those of us that are participating that end up being impacted more than the individuals we are actually doing the favors for. It's amazing how giving to others changes our focus from "me" to the overwhelming needs of our world.
Anyway, thank you in advance for participating!!! Merry Christmas to each of you! I hope you have as much fun with this as I have had creating it. =)
So here it is..... The Second Annual....
12 GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS
DAY 12 (DECEMBER 13)
*Make a Christmas card wishing someone peace, joy and love.... and leave it on a neighbor’s doorstep!
Julie Hill-Hansen, Waller, TX.
DAY 11 (DECEMBER 14)
* Go to a nearby gas station with whatever cash you’d like to donate. Pick someone that pulls up and offer to either fill their tank (or contribute $5, $10, etc. towards their gas). This literally makes peoples’ day!
Lindsay Zavitz, Chicago, IL
DAY 10 (DECEMBER 15)
* Take lunch, coffee, or hot cocoa to a local authority employee that works outside in the cold.
Toni Brodelle, Belgium.
DAY 9 (DECEMBER 16)
* Make kits for the homeless and keep them in your car. Hand them out whenever you see someone that looks like they could use a helping hand. (Kits can include: warm gloves, Band-Aids, crackers, bottles of water, mouthwash, etc.)
Leah Linderman, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.
DAY 8 (DECEMBER 17)
* Tape a gift card or cash to a dressing room at a thrift store in your community.
Mary O’Brien, Boise, ID.
DAY 7 (DECEMBER 18)
* Bake homemade treats and deliver them to a local family shelter in your area. (All kids love holiday sugar cookies shaped like Santa’s and Snowmen!)
Alexandra Track, Toronto, Canada.
DAY 6 (DECEMBER 19)
* Give a $5 gift card to an EMT, firefighter, police officer, or someone in the military.
The Behle Family, Saratoga Springs, UT.
DAY 5 (DECEMBER 20)
*Heifer International. Check out this amazing organization. When you read up on what they do, you will see it is the very heart of Paying It Forward. https://secure1.heifer.org/gift-catalog/
Any donation greatly helps communities in need. Heifer International encourages sustainable living and has helped countless troubled communities to become independent and provide for themselves. (For example, for $20 you can give a flock of chicks. The protein in the eggs is life-saving, plus the chickens have baby chicks who are passed on (paid forward) to other families in need.) Such a win-win.
Catherine Ryan Hyde – Author of Pay It Forward, Cambria, CA.
DAY 4 (DECEMBER 21)
* Make a holiday card(s) for children in the hospital and deliver them to one in your community.
Donovan Nichols, Athens, GA.
DAY 3 (DECEMBER 22)
* Volunteer at a local organization in your community. Whether that is an hour, or a half a day…. that part is completely up to you. Just research charities in your area, pick one, and jump in! It will bless others and provide you a sense of joy knowing you’ve volunteered your efforts to make someone else’s day a bit brighter.
Trista Wilson, Chicago, IL.
DAY 2 (DECEMBER 23)
*When you gather items for donations around the house (clothes, food, etc.) - Instead of dropping them off at a local donation station, leave in your car. When going about your day, look for people that are actually in need of these items. They may be on the streets or in houses where you know the family could use a helping hand. Deliver them personally.
Sean Olivares, Corpus Christie, TX.
DAY 1 (DECEMBER 24)
* Since some people live in urban areas, and others live in the country, this last day everyone can choose from the following:
Leave change by your library’s printer or copy machine, feed parking meters, tape $1 to a vending machine, or leave a few bucks at a Subway station to pay for someone’s public transportation.
Jason Radford, Kansas City, MO.
*So there you have it. I hope these ideas will inspire you to get out there and participate. Just think of how many lives we have the potential to change by doing one random act of kindness a day for 12 days straight. I can't even imagine how many people will be impacted by our selfless actions.
I'm excited to start receiving your journals detailing your experience with the second annual 12 GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS!
*IF YOU WISH TO READ ABOUT THIS PAY-IT-FORWARD JOURNEY, PLEASE CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO RSVP TO THE EVENT!
*FINALLY, TO SUBMIT YOUR BLOG ONCE IT IS COMPLETED-- EMAIL IT TO ME AT: CHAINLINKS08@GMAIL.COM