“Children learn what they live”
As a little girl every Holiday season my parents would do a few things to give back. I remember walking up and down our street delivering cookies to all our neighbors. I remember visiting my grandfather at the nursing home… spending time with him, the staff, and the other patients. I remember walking with my parents door to door taking in donations for Red Cross. I remember shopping for an Angel Tree Child.
Now as an adult/mother I realize what an important role those acts of kindness played. There was nothing that my parents ever said… or any “lesson” they tried to “teach” me. It was just me, walking beside my parents… learning what I lived.
As a mother of three, this “gift” my parents had given me is very dear to my heart.
I hope for my children to experience the same, not just at Christmas, but all year round. However, here are some traditions around the holiday season that we have carried on from my own experiences and also some that we started ourselves.
1. Making a meal for our teachers.
Now that my oldest is in school I have a new found appreciation for teachers. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate them before… but we have been very blessed with an amazing teacher/school that my daughter absolutely adores. I know sometimes this can be hard to come by. To show our appreciation we hope to make one of her meals this week one that she doesn’t have to cook!
This is a wonderful family activity that everyone can do together to participate. From the cooking… to the delivering.
2. Give blankets/treats/supplies to your favorite animal shelter.
This is one that my daughters came up with together. They have a special place in their hearts for their furry friends. It’s a tradition they started a couple years back.
3. Operation Christmas Child/Angel Tree/Toys For Tots, etc.
This is another favorite for my girls. They LOVE shopping for gifts. Especially toys. :-) It’s awesome to see them so excited about giving to another child.
4. Food Bank Donations
We would never want to see anyone go hungry. Help support your local food banks by donating not just during the holidays but all year long. We tend to grab an extra can or box of pasta when we see the 10 for 10 sales at our grocery stores. A dollar here and there can go a long way!
5. Christmas Cards for Hospital/Nursing Home Patients.
Depending on the location you may be able to hand deliver them or leave them at the front desk. I know the hospitals are a little more secure. As a child I remember the HUGE smile I used to get after making a delivery to local residents. A smile truly is worth 1000 words. It also depends on the child, too. I will have to admit sometimes “those old people” can be a little scary. :-P Prior years my girls just wanted to drop them off. This year my oldest wanted to actually hand deliver them. Sometimes we include some pictures as well. :-)
6. A treat for our Postal Workers.
As we were waiting in the long post office line we watched a man argue with the lady behind the desk for what seemed liked hours. This poor woman was verbally abused for something she most likely had no control over. Tis the season! LOL That was just a 5 minute glimpse of what these workers deal with during their busy season. I can’t even imagine what they deal with on a regular basis. We’ve decided to make Postal Workers a priority! That next week we brought in some Christmas cookies from a local bakery.
7. Treats for our neighbors.
Again, another wonderful opportunity for the whole family to get involved. This one is dear to me as it brings back a lot of childhood memories! We’ve met a couple new neighbors this year!
8. Hidden Toys on the Playground
We bought cars from Dollar Tree and a pack of clear plastic containers. The girls wrote a note… “We hope you enjoy your new toy.” and hid them around various playgrounds. We used a clear container so that people could see what was inside. They also added an “Open me” label to the front.
9. Volunteer to provide meals.
The program we used for this is Feeding Children Anywhere.
We volunteered through a local church but anyone can host a hunger project. It’s great way to get a group of friends together and have the kids participate with you. It only costs .25 a meal, and will help your local food banks!
10. A warm drink for our construction workers
I will say this was my favorite one this year! There is a lot of construction in our area right now. Every day on our way to drop my oldest off at school we have to wait a few minutes for one lane traffic. We try and leave a few minutes early because of this. We know it’s there and we adjust. However, there are a lot of people that are in a HURRY!!! These poor men/women are out there in the freezing cold getting honked at…and then there is always the driver that drives through at 50 miles per hour. The workers just stop and stare in dismay. I don’t blame them! So… after drop off I asked my middle girl if we should bring them some hot coffee.
“Yes, Mommy. I am sure they would love that!”
We drove through our local Krispy Kreme and picked up a coffee box.
We drove back to the construction site and pulled over. We hopped out of the car, and handed the man the box of coffee, cups, creamer, sugar etc. He looked at us in the eyes with disbelief and said “For us?”
Yes, for you!
As a tear rolled down his face he said
What are some Acts of Kindness you do during the holidays and all year long?
We would love to hear about them!
STUFFED SHELLS RECIPE
1 PACKAGE OF JUMBO SHELLS
1 CONTAINER OF RICOTTA CHEESE (32oz whole milk)
1 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
6 TABLESPOONS OF PARSLEY
1 1/2 CUPS SHREDDED ITALIAN CHEESE
DASH OF PEPPER
¼ TEASPOON NUTMEG
6 TABLESPOONS SUGAR
YOU ALSO NEED AN ADDITIONAL ½ CUP SHREDDED CHEESE FOR SPRINKLING ON TOP.
- COOK SHELLS (AL DENTE… THEY WILL FINISH COOKING IN THE OVEN).
- COMBINE MIXTURE INGREDIENTS
- FILL SHELLS
- SPREAD SAUCE ON THE BOTTOM OF 9 X 13 PAN (YOU CAN REALLY USE ANYTHING… SOMETIMES WE USE 2 SMALLER PANS AND USE THIS FOR 2 MEALS. IT MAKES A LOT OF SHELLS. 3-4 SHELLS IS PLENTY FOR 1 PERSON.)
- COVER WITH TINFOIL AND FREEZE (if not freezing skip to #7)
- TAKE SHELLS OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
- COVER WITH SAUCE AND BAKE COVERED AT 350 FOR 45 MIN
- TOP WITH SHREDDED CHEESE AND BAKE AN ADDITIONAL 15 MINUTES UNCOVERED.