In the past, the boys have done prank wars to varying levels of success, until someone gets too overzealous and ticks someone else off in a real way. So with our birthday and holiday season upon us, and the house ready to hit high levels of
fun and tension, I have challenged the boys to two things: The 2nd is to do "sneak" gift attacks on one another, without looking for the "glory" of a thank you or the accolades, etc. of doing something good for someone else. Doing good for the sake of doing good. (The 1st I'll talk about a bit more below.)
Got downstairs after tucking everyone in to find these goodies on the counter waiting for me: (the oj is a prize as it is the last in the house and EVERYONE loves it!)
The first challenge stems from a book I read a while back and am re-reading again now. It is the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. It is written by Cami Walker. There is an associated website as well - 29 gifts. The book dives into her decision to embrace a mentor's "prescription" to give a gift a day for 29 days, and write about the gift and her thoughts about each gift in a journal. Ms. Walker has MS and in the beginning of the book, she talks about her struggle to take care of day-to-day needs when she is dealing with the many aspects of her condition.
She is honest about how she is feeling, when she is irritated she snaps at her husband, etc, but she also is hopeful and so is what she has written. So I am reading the book aloud at breakfast to my kids, a chapter a day over the course of the next month. I want to talk with them at dinner about what they've done to "give" to someone intentionally that day. I want them to be aware of their giving and of when they receive a gift as well.
The website issues the challenge as well:
Give one thing away each day for 29 days. Why? Because to see your world change, you have to DO something to change your world.
I have always been pleased to hear my kids' reactions to gifts of any kind. In fact, one year, I decided not to add "feetie pajamas" to the annual gift wish list that a few relatives ask for. Boy, was I wrong! I ended up having to scramble to find feetie pajamas that fit when I discovered how disappointed Maestro was when he didn't get a new set on his November birthday. He didn't complain so much as lament that he hadn't gotten any and remarked that he "might get some for Christmas." Maestro was about nine at the time.
Another year we all received fleece sheets. Now whenever the weather turns cold and we pull out the fleece sheets and I inevitably hear sounds of delight at knowing that warm cozy sheets await them at bedtime. I want us to use the holiday season as a joint time to be grateful for the opportunity to give to others, whether through giving our time, talents or monetary gifts - the important part is that we should give mindfully and not just for the sake of giving.
The point isn't to fill our friends' and family's homes with junk; the point is to fill their lives with blessings - and fill our lives with blessings by that act. I am looking forward to the challenge, however perfectly we achieve it. In the book, Ms. Walker says that if a day is skipped or missed in the Challenge, we should start over at day 1. I don't know if I can get the boys on board for that long, well, maybe Maestro and Chef, we'll see. But just in the effort, we will be blessed as a group.
As our economy struggles, as we are blessed during the holidays, will you join me in our challenge?
I invite you to return and share the gifts you've given each day and how it has affected your life.
My gift for today was to let the boys have a friend sleep over. What's the big deal?, you say. I can see you thinking it, it's okay. But the big deal is that I am not a good "sleepover" mom. I typically get irritated when the kids are still up giggling and chatting at midnight - I want my quiet house. But tonight, I worked on what I needed to do, I played with the baby, and the boys played board games and watched movies (and giggled until 1 a.m.) We'll suffer tomorrow with shorter tempers, probably, but the bonds the boys are forming are important. It has been a relatively quiet evening, and reconfirmed that perhaps we can do sleepovers a little more often and I can have more patience.