Holiday Kindness Calendar for Kids
Five years ago when my husband and I got married we had the most amazing interfaith celebration – we “broke the glass” at the end of our ceremony, listened to the seven Jewish blessings, and even did the Hava Nagila dance at our reception as celebrations of his Jewish heritage. On the other hand, we lit the unity candle, read from Corinthians, exchanged rings over a Catholic blessing, and incorporated many of the traditions near to my heart having been raised Catholic. We knew then that raising an inter-faith family would be important to us.
Fast forward to this holiday season, five and a half years since our beautiful wedding day, as our firstborn (all too quickly) approaches his third birthday. Integrating our families and our holiday celebrations had been a breeze in the past; both sides of the family enjoyed celebrating with one another, but our son had always been too young to really understand the holidays and our family’s celebrations – until now.
Starting a New Family Tradition: The Holiday Kindness Calendar
As we approached this holiday season my husband and I mulled over the best ways to celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in a way that would be meaningful and resonate with our almost-three year old. I struggled with my huge family Christmas traditions “overpowering” Hanukkah – the joys of Santa coming down the chimney and the dominance of all-things-Christmas across our society seemed hard to compete with. Yet as the holiday season drew near, the true nature of both holidays became clear. Rather than worrying about how Hanukkah and Christmas would stack up to one another, we decided to dedicate the entire month of December to serving others – the true meaning of both the Hanukkah and Christmas season to both of us.
To do so we blended both of our holiday traditions – mine of having an Advent calendar to count down to Christmas, and my husband’s of doing a “mitzvah” in honor of the holiday season. (Mitzvah means “good deed” in Yiddish.) As December 1st neared, we pulled out our advent calendar and rather than stuffing each day with a small token or treat, we dropped a blank card into each slot; explaining to our son that each morning we would chat over breakfast about a good deed or act of kindness he would like to do to serve others that day and that each night over dinner we would pull out the blank card from the day’s slot and write down his good deed – a total of 25 mitzvahs counting down the 25 days of Christmas.
As the days passed we watched our son grin with excitement as he thought of his mitzvah that he would do serve others each day – buying hot coffee for the construction workers outside who looked cold, helping the babies in the infant classroom at his school, giving a hug to a friend who had been sad the day before, buying a present for a family in need.
As the December days wore on, my heart grew more and more full, as I watched the true meaning of the holiday season unfolding through the eyes of my child and know that this will be a tradition that will stay with our family for years and years to come.
I’m a thrill-seeker by day, yet homebody at heart, reveling in quality time spent with my two-year old son and husband of five years. Master of building forts and picking up perfectly-cooked toddler meals that have been thrown on the floor, I strive to find humor and grace in the balancing act of being a working mama and wife.
- Read more posts from Marisa including The Not-So-Terrible-Twos: 5 Reasons I’m Loving This Age
- The Family Room blog: Holiday Random Acts of Kindness for Kids
- E-family news: The Caring Connection: Teaching Empathy to Children
- Family Matters Parent Webinar: Growing Givers: Raising Socially Responsible Children