When I was a kid, I loved the first day of December because it meant that we could put up our advent calendar. Our advent calendar really had nothing to do with advent, it was a Jingle Jangle Ribbon with 23 jingle bells tied onto a ribbon and a large golden jingle bell at the top. The idea was to untie one bell each night until you reached the top one on Christmas Eve, the night that Santa came and brought gifts.
When I had kids of my own, my mom made me a Jingle Jangle Ribbon for our family. But since I have two kids and I felt like maybe they should learn there is more to Christmas than just Santa, we also had an advent wall hanging depicting the Nativity where one night the girls would add a camel, the next a sheep or a palm tree, until the 24th of December when Baby Jesus would be placed in the manger.
Over the years I’ve become interested in other families’ advent calendars and also celebrations. Some have chocolate calendars, some have advent dinners, some light candles, there seems to be no end to the choices. And that’s just my Christian friends!
This year I have decided to do something different. I’ve decided to choose love and kindness every day in December in the lead up to Christmas (and Hanukkah, for my Jewish friends).
I came across this kindness advent calendar and have decided to use it this year. And I’m encouraging you to do the same. All of the activities are quick, easy and cheap or free.
I keep looking around me and figure that we could all use a little more kindness and love in our day. It never hurts to remind people that they are loved and it never hurts to show someone a bit of kindness. We really should do this every day, all the time. But unfortunately, that’s not the way the world seems to work right now.
I don’t want to live in a world where fear and hatred rule our lives. I think most people, given a choice, would choose love over fear. I try to choose love over fear every day. When I am faced with a decision, I try to remember to think ‘what would love do here?’ Asking that question, especially when faced with someone who is mad at me or with whom I’m upset, makes all the difference.
I treat myself better, I parent differently, I am stronger, I hold my boundaries. Sometimes it’s about choosing love of myself over someone else. Sometimes it’s about choosing to love someone else more than myself. But I know the decision is right for me, if I let love make the choice rather than fear.
I belong to a ‘secret’ group on Facebook called Pantsuit Nation. I say ‘secret’ because it’s the worst kept secret since the New York Times wrote about the group. It started as a secret support group for Hillary Clinton supporters but in the past month has become a constant stream of people reporting attacks, sexism, racism and condemnation. People living in fear. Fear to walk down the street. Fear to go the grocery store. Fear of what will happen when Trump takes office.
I see these reports and am saddened and start to feel overwhelmed. But if I truly believe that love and kindness conquers fear I have to try. Maybe me as one individual can’t do very much to show the world some love, but I’m going to try for the next 24 days and see what happens. My friend Amanda who is a happiness coach in Toronto recently ran a seven day peace practice online. After taking part in that for seven days, I felt more peaceful. I’m hoping after spreading love and kindness for 24 days, I’ll be feeling more optimistic.
I was heartened to read on the MakeTodayHappy blog that the advent calendar has been downloaded more than 68,000 times in the last 11 days. That’s 68,000 other people besides me who are choosing love and kindness this December. If you want to download your own copy, go to: http://maketodayhappy.co.uk/
Please let me know how it goes. Even if each of us only touched one person this advent season, wouldn’t it be worth it?