Above All Else, Be Kind

Tomorrow is December 1st. Yikes.

The last few holidays have been especially fun because of my children and each year I try to add a new holiday tradition to make that year special. Some traditions we keep up every year, like baking my granny’s famous sugar cookies (recipe at the end of the post), taking holiday pictures of the kids that become photo cards, and picking a charity or organization to contribute to. Others end up getting scrapped because I suck at hosting ugly sweater parties and I never have enough AA batteries to keep the Christmas train turned on for the entire month of December.

This is the first year that I’ve felt the kids were old enough that I really want to introduce them to the “giving back” part of the season. I don’t want the holidays to be just about what we put under the tree, baking cookies, and opening and exchanging presents. We are not a religious family so we don’t put “Christ” in “Christmas,” we don’t do Santa or Elf on the Shelf. I want the holidays to be about the time we spend together, but also about how we spend that time.  I may fail at all other parts of being a parent, but the one thing I want to do right is to instill in my children the importance of kindness. Kindness not only to each other, but to our friends, our neighbors and strangers we meet every day as well as the ones we may never meet.

It’s in that vein that I’m starting a new holiday tradition. I’m creating a Kindness Jar that will have 23 separate acts of kindness written on slips of paper inside of it. Starting on December 1st and ending on December 23rd, I will let the kids take turns picking one piece of paper each day and we will do whatever act is listed together. Some of the activities are much more involved and hands on (like creating care packages to donate or for our friends or neighbors) and others are more simple (like making Daddy a welcome home sign with sidewalk chalk before he comes home from work). The idea is that the kids will learn different ways they can choose kindness, spread joy, and pay it forward. Hopefully it will become something we practice and learn together and eventually become ingrained into their thinking as adults.

I was originally going to list all of the acts in this post in case anyone wanted ideas, but many of them are surprises for our friends and family so I don’t want to ruin the surprise! I’ve included some links below to some of the websites that I used for inspiration and ideas in case any one is interested. I would also like to give a shout out to Amber Leventry at her Family Rhetoric page for inspiring the Kindness Jar idea.  I will be recording our experience with the Kindness Jar project right here on the blog so I will include the acts and photos in my subsequent posts as they unfold. Stay tuned!

Inspiration for Kindness Jars: 

70 Easy Acts of Kindness

100 Acts of Kindness for Kids

Symbolic Animal Adoption

Supporting the Deployed

Beach Cleanups

Kindness Themed Story Time

Granny’s Sugar Cookies:

1 c. softened butter
3.5 c. sifted flour
1.5 c. sugar
2 tsp. cream of tarter
3 eggs
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt.
Directions: cream butter and vanilla, sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add. Use ungreased cookie sheets in preheated 375 degree oven for 6-8 minutes
On a side note, you’ll want to chill the dough in the fridge before rolling out. The dough tends to be sticky on the out set that’s normal. Just knead a little flour gradually as you work it until you get it to the point where you can roll it without sticking. Roll out semi-thin so when they cook the edges will brown slightly (that’s how granny did it). It took me a LONG time to get it even semi right so if it turns out like biscuits the first time don’t be frustrated (cause mine did) Also the dough freezes well if you want to thaw out and make for easter too (that’s why we always had bunny cookies in April :))

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