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25 days of kindness

It's Dec. 1; 25 days till Christmas.

This year, inspired by parent coach Maggie Macaulay's ideas for getting kids into the "giving" state of mind during the season of "gimmes," I'm tweaking a holiday tradition.

We have a beautiful advent calendar - a wooden box, hand painted by my husband's aunt, with 25 little doors leading up to Christmas Day. Normally, I fill each little compartment with two chocolates, one for each daughter, for them to take each day.

But this year, I'm filling it with good and thoughtful deeds for them to carry out during the day. Every morning, they will take their mission from the box - "Say thank you to a teacher," "Give someone a compliment."

At the end of the day, we'll talk about how they fulfilled it. Then they'll get a chocolate.

Coming up with 25 of these was harder than I imagined. (You could easily winnow it down for Hanukkah). I wanted them to be about "giving", not a list of chores. And I wanted to choose actions that made them look at the people around them, tune in to the needs of others, think about how they can help. To have kindness and generosity top of mind as they go about their day.

Some are lame (No. 17 & 21). Some are copouts (No. 23 - we do that every year anyway). I would love to hear some of your ideas. There is still time to revise!

Here is my list:

1. Say thank you to a teacher.

2. Carry something for someone.

3. Go to confession.

4. Make a list of the gifts you're going to give.

5. Come up with a plan to earn the money to buy the gifts or supplies to make them.

6. Say thank you to the school crossing guard or bus driver.

7. Do one of your sister's chores (without complaining).

8. Show a kindness to someone who seems down.

9. Read to your sister.

10. Spend 10 uninterrupted minutes playing with our dog.

11. Do a random act of kindness.

12. Make a new friend.

13. Give away a toy or treat.

14. Hold a door open for someone.

15. Do one thing to help a teacher without being asked.

16. Write a letter (not an email) or draw a picture for a faraway friend or relative and put it in the mail.

17. Do one thing to help Mom without being asked.

18. Plant a seed.

19. Help a friend with schoolwork.

20. Designate a charity to donate to in the coming year.

21. Do one thing to help Dad without being asked.

22. Give someone a sincere compliment.

23. Make cookies for the neighbors.

24. Write down five things you are thankful for.

25. Call your grandparents to thank them for your gifts.