My husband and I spent the holidays with three of our eight grandchildren who live across the country. Each time we visit, I bring a craft, fun project or new activity to build memories together and deepen our connections through creativity. But Emma is now 13 and Charlotte is 11 (going on 16 and 14 respectively!), and “little” Josh, who is 9, masters giant Lego sets marked, “Ages 17 and above” in a day or two. Therefore, to my disheartened heart, sometime during two years of Covid and growing up much too quickly, my precious grandchildren left behind fairy gardens, blanket tents in the living room, blowing seeded dandelions with a wish to the wind, and a myriad of imaginations we previously explored together. Yaaaargh! Fortunately, a conversation with Josh gave me an idea for a different kind of project that could make 2022 and years to come more meaningful.
I mentioned to Josh that a friend had given me a gift for each day of the 12 Days of Christmas, and shared with him how delightful it was to open each gift. Grandpa piped in and posed the idea of celebrating 365 Days of Christmas, to which Josh replied, “I don’t think I could afford to buy that many gifts.” Seizing the opportunity for a teaching moment, I explained that there are many gifts to give that don’t cost any money, pointing out that simply talking with him and enjoying our time together was a gift to me. He contemplated that idea and replied with a smile, “Yeah! I guess you’re right, Grandma.”
From there, I designed a “Gift Card” for each month—The 12 Months of Christmas—which they could personalize and use year after year. The front looks like this:
In the 1st Month of Christmas
I Give the Gift of My
To others around me by….
(2nd Month – Gentle Heart, followed by Talents, Grace, Patience, Creativity, Cheerfulness, Imagination, Flexibility, Listening Heart, Gratitude, and Peace.)
The back of each card looks like this:
In this way I help
LIGHT the WORLD
With LOVE and JOY!
They decorated their cards with stickers and markers. Then we laminated the gift cards so they could write on the blank lines each month, year after year. We shared ideas for each gift but determined that the details of what they chose to give could be kept to themselves. Finally, they put their 12 Months of Christmas gift cards in a shiny gold envelope and tucked them in their own special letter boxes, which we gave to them years ago as a keepsake for letters and cards from Grandpa and Grandma.
I love how great ideas inspire more great ideas. What can I do to make this year truly different in the ways that matter most to me? Celebrate Christmas all year by giving a gift of myself—from my heart—every day throughout the 12 Months of Christmas. Come … let’s celebrate together and light the world! And next December, when someone asks you, “Are you ready for Christmas?”, you can smile and say, “I’ve been ready all year.”