The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as #twelvetide, is a holiday tradition that begins December 25th and ends January 5th.
Most traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been nearly forgotten in the United States. The commercial calendar encourages the error that the Twelve Days of Christmas terminate on Christmas Day and therefore begin on 14 December. Actually, #twelvetide gets started on Christmas Day.
On each of the twelve days our family (led by our daughter Grayce) commits a random act of gratitude and community service. They are just simple, small, thoughtful gestures to help begin the year in the habit of kindness and generosity. Maybe others will adopt this #twelvetide practice this year?
Here's a log of our 2016-2017 #twelvetide activities:
On the 1st day of #twelvetide we did a beach cleanup! Water is life. Water is medicine.
On the 2nd day of #twelvetide Grayce, Julia and Kanami took the Starbucks gift cards they were given for Christmas and walked around the parking lot taking orders from folks who are down on their luck. One man had a handmade sign on his back that read "Thanks for the hate". He was appreciative of the simple kindness and humanity as well as the hot chocolate. A family with a young child panhandling in from of a store was thankful for the sandwiches.
On the 3rd day of #twelvetide Grayce sent three personal letters to The St. Joseph Orphanage in Ohio to share with three kids there. Our family is a mix of adopted, biological, and foster brothers and sisters so our kids know how important these services are and how much of an impact they have. The kids also donated three coats that don't fit them any longer to our local Salvation Army.
On the 4th day of #twelvetide Grayce baked four dozen gingersnap and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for our local firemen and delivered them to the station with some words of #gratitude for keeping us safe in 2016. The guys only had to rescue Boo once this year!
On the 5th day of #twelvetide my girl G took care of Jack who appreciated the human company and the five apples and carrots she brought to him. We can be kind to our non-human pals too!
On the 6th day of #twelvetide Grayce, her sister Boo, and their friends Ava and Julia made a "Chemo Kit" for our friend Karine who is battling cancer. The box includes six items to help he stay cozy, busy, to help manage pain and discomfort, and remember she's loved.
On the 7th day of #twelvetide, and the last day of the year, Grayce emailed seven heartfelt notes of appreciation and gratitude to seven people who helped make 2016 a personal and academic success for her. Raising and educating kids truly takes a village and it's important to recognize the mentors and educators who guide and teach us.
On the 8th day of #twelvetide, and the first day of the new year, Grayce imagined eight things she'd like to have if she was homeless. She put them in a bag and gave them to a woman living on the street in San Francisco. Clean, warm, fuzzy socks included.
On the 9th day of #twelvetide Grayce and Boo took nine large packages of sanitary napkins to the Larkin Street Youth Services and learned about their important work. Larkin Street provides youth between the ages of 12 and 24 with the help they need to rebuild their lives. Each year, more than 3,000 youth walk through their doors seeking help. Larkin St gives them a place where they can feel safe; rebuild their sense of self-respect, trust, and hope; learn school, life and job skills; and find the confidence to build a future.
On the 10th day of #twelvetide Grayce gathered ten items of clothing and sports equipment from her closet, put them in a duffle bag and wrote a letter for delivery to a young girl in foster care through Family to Family in Salinas, CA. She knows that I was raised with four foster sisters and that there are many kinds of families and that the main ingredient is love. I don’t know exactly what the letter said, she didn’t say. But I know it included an invitation to go to the beach and if I was a child in foster care, I think I’d like to get it. www.f2fmc.org
On the 11th day of #twelvetide Grayce picked up a couple dozen donuts from Red’s (made daily in Monterey since 1950) and dropped them off before school with a note at the police station. The men and women in blue do so much more than we realize day in and day out, including rescuing our dog (twice) this year.
"Over my Holiday Break I did a small community service action every day. I performed simple acts of kindness and donated my time to helping those in need. I really enjoyed it, and I recommend this to everyone!
I learned so much about different organizations, and kinds of people because of this project. I learned that giving and helping others can feel so much better than getting. I also learned to pay closer attention to everyone around us, everyone has a story and is carrying a burden. I really do recommend you all do this for a twelve days, and hopefully it will stick like it did for me."
~ W. Grayce Nichols
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