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Challenge: Your Special Traditions

How we taught our kids the beauty in spreading kindness this Christmas

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Yesterday we spent the morning making my Mimi's famous teacakes, covering them with copious amounts of homemade icing and holiday sprinkles. Snowmen, little gingerbread men, Christmas trees and angels. The kids were covered in flour and the kitchen was a complete disaster, but with Bing Crosby crooning and the lights from the Christmas tree glowing, it was one of those magical moments.

Our goal was to take a pretty package of Christmas cookies along with a family Christmas card and deliver to our neighbors. We moved recently, so I was thinking we could a) get better acquainted with some of our neighbors b) show our kiddos, 6 and almost 4, the beauty in a random act of holiday kindness. In this season of buying and making lists of your wants for Santa, I wanted to give my kids a concrete example of bringing joy to others.

Taylor loaded them into the car and everyone was buzzing with excitement. It was freezing but no one minded as we got to the first house, ready to spread that Christmas cheer. Annie knocked on the first door and stepped back, patiently waiting. When no one answered, Ollie knocked, eager to hand over the card in his hands. After a few minutes, we told them they likely weren't home so we just left the cookies and card on the front steps. Annie was fine. Our three-year-old Ollie, was not. He started to whine and cry a bit, saying he "wanted to go in and give them cookies."

He cried as we went to house #2, but I reminded myself he was just tired and hadn't been feeling great. It was fine. The next stop would turn it back around to the holiday smiles.

We arrived at the second house and Annie again, knocked with hope and expectation. No one answered, so a tearful Ollie knocked. A couple minutes went by and nothing. Annie looked defeated and declared, "This is the worst. No one is home and no one wants to eat these delicious cookies."

My dream of this lovely Christmas outing to spread Christmas cheer and teach our children how to be a good neighbor was slipping. One was crying, one was borderline over it, it was FREEZING, and Taylor and I were just praying someone would be home at the next house.

Before Annie knocked on door #3, I warned everyone that she might not be home or able to come to the door. A sweet lady who had to be 96 if she was a day, was always so kind to chat as she was at her mailbox with her little pup as we were on a walk. She seemed frail, and as Annie knocked we noticed the front porch looked like it hasn't been touched, let alone cleaned, in a long time. There were leaves all in the gutters and cobwebs everywhere on the grand front porch. It broke my heart a little, and I said a little prayer for her to be home so we could visit.

After both Annie and Ollie had knocked a couple times, we were about to head back to the car when she slowly opened the front door with a small grin. She hadn't been expecting anyone, but she was happy to see us there.

"Merry Christmas to you!" Ollie shouted, so thrilled to see her.

"Oh my, I didn't know if someone was really knocking at my front door - thank you for this."

She was beaming and so were we.

We visited for a few minutes, and after she thanked us for stopping by, she said something I'll never forget:

"Enjoy each other to the fullest this Christmas, and every Christmas."

Each of us took that in - the kids smiling so big and Taylor and I getting a little teary-eyed. We were instantly reminded of what really matters, and how blessed we were to have each other.

And just like that, the magic of Christmas was back.

May you enjoy each other to the fullest this Christmas, and every Christmas!

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