It was the day after Halloween, and as I swept into a local store to grab a few items I skidded to a halt in disbelief: Christmas trees. Up. Decorated. What the what?!? I almost checked the date on my phone to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped 30 or so days.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. L.O.V.E. Christmas. What I don’t love is all the commercialism that goes along with it.
Last year, two of my friends and I started a counter-revolution against the commercialism of Christmas.
If you are thinking picket signs and three angry women standing on a street corner shouting, you’re going down the wrong path.
Think cookies dropped off for the police, cards sent to Mail for Heroes, and quarters at the laundromat, free for the taking. Think pouring out kindness and love and smiles. Think laughter and art projects and children learning to love giving.
We called our guerilla warfare against commercialism “Advent Acts of Kindness.”
Our inspiration was found in Mark 12:28-31:
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
We celebrated Advent (24 days, plus our Christmas Finale) with a daily kind act — most of which included our children’s direct participation — but this could easily be scaled back to a weekly kind act or any number that fits your life and your schedule.
We rotated between community acts (quarters at the laundromat, cookies for the police department), national acts (Red Cross Mail for Heroes, Toys for Tots), and international acts of kindness (World Vision, International Justice Mission, Heifer International).
As our children helped us deliver items and write cards, we found ourselves talking about Christ, talking about sacrifice, talking about the true meaning of Christmas in our families and amongst ourselves.
And, truthfully, we found our own eyes less focused on the commercialism of Christmas. We encountered smiles and even a few stares as we whisked into and out of places, leaving treats behind — and it was fun! It was a breath of fresh air into a month jam-packed with obligations and to-do lists.
My family will be doing celebrating our Second Annual Advent Acts of Kindness this Christmas season, and we invite you to join us we celebrate Advent in a way that serves Christ and others in a tangible, physical way.
Need ideas? Here are some links:
Here is a free printable to go along with your Advent Acts!
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
And, if you want to see what my girlfriends and I did for our AAK (Advent Acts of Kindness) last year, we summarized the entire adventure (pictures and everything!) here. If you want to join my girlfriends and I online as we do AAK together, you can find all the fun (photos and everything) here.