First, let me start by wishing you all a happy and safe New Year's. I hope that 2016 brings many wonderful things your way. I, for one, am looking forward to the new year, after a crazy past two months with the girls being sick and then me in the hospital two days before Christmas with an acute sinus infection, bronchitis and pneumonia. Not how I was planning to spend the holidays. But, thanks to family and friends who stepped up to help make the holidays easier with meals and keeping the girls entertained while I rested. Now, that I a finally on the mend, I can't help but look back at this past year and try to pick out highlights of 2015.
Do you do this? If so, what was top on your list. We started homeschooling this year and the girls are doing so well. In addition, the girls are now at the age that they are understanding things more, asking questions and appreciating things like the holiday. This year, the girls learned the true meaning of Christmas and helped with the donations of toys for kids in needs, coats and mittens and even went through their old toys and clothes to donate. In years past, they would only think about toys they wanted and picking out a new winter coat for themselves. But, now, they are thinking of others and looking for ways to help. I can't stop smiling thinking about their kindness and big hearts. I can say that they have big hearts like their moms and will be forever touching people's lives going forward in a positive way by giving back.
Prior to Christmas Savannah joined Bella, my husband and I, as we raised money and walked in the Jimmy Fund Walk. They walked for their mommy, a cancer survivor, relatives who are no longer with us, and everyone else affected by cancer.
A few weeks before Christmas this year I took my girls to the local town hall for them to pick names off the wish tree of kids in need looking for a special gift to find under the tree on Christmas morning.
In addition to the kids' wish tree there was also a tree for the elderly looking for care packages or a special gift (like audio books, cookies and coffee, gift cards, etc.) After we had our kids and seniors to shop for, the fun began.
This is how we dress for shopping :-)
We headed shopping to fulfill our wish tree wishes. I thought that the girls would get sidelined when they saw the toy aisle and would ask for new toys for themselves. But, to my surprise they were on a mission to find the perfect gift and then wanted to help me wrap the gifts, too.
As far a gifts, Bella drew a little boy, age 6, who wanted Matchbox cars and Minion stuff. This was easy for Bell as she is huge Minions fan. She loved shopping for gifts knowing how much she liked certain toys and how often she played with ones over others. She ended up using her allowance money saved to buy a couple Matchbox cars and a 6-piece mini minions set. For her elder wish recipient, she stocked up on $15 dollars worth of goodies from the Dollar Store, which included coffee, tea, cocoa, cookies, crossword puzzle books, note cards, a 2016 calendar and a few other goodies.
Savannah, on the other hand, struggled a bit as she drew a 12 year old girl. Only being 5 1/2 yrs old., she wasn't sure what the older girl would like. She put down makeup, books, and music for her present requests. We ended up picking her up a cute Hello Kitty bath and body wash set, a My Little Pony lip balm set enclosed in a cute metal lunchbox tin and some cocoa with a mug she could write on as it had a chalkboard label. For her senior wish recipient, we picked up the audio book they had requested in addition to hard candies, tissues, cookies and tea.
After we were done with our Secret Santa shopping, we brought our stuff home and I taught the girls how to wrap. Well, they at least helped with the tape and signing the labels. It was nice to be able to teach the girls about how it is better to give than receive and see them wanting to use their birthday and allowance money to buy the gifts. They even had money left over, which they had me donate to the local Toy Drive at our neighboring fire station, as well as use some to buy a bag of groceries at the market for a holiday meal for a family less fortunate.
We filled bags of food to drop off at the local food pantry, in which Savannah included some of her favorite snacks. :-)
I loved hearing the girls tell family and friends about the gifts they bought for others and how it made them feel good knowing that these less fortunate kids and seniors would wake on Christmas to gifts under the tree for them. Bella asked if we could go to the mall to see Santa as she wanted to tell him of her kindness and community service and how he didn't have to get the minions set and cars for her wish list recipient. :-)
We did run into Santa a few days later at a lights show and when asked what they wanted for Christmas, both of my girls told Santa that family is all that they need and to put the extra time into giving gifts to those that can't afford them. They teared up as they said they didn't want to see kids wake on Christmas to an empty tree. It is amazing what little ones will say and think about, especially when they are 4 and 5 years old. My girls' hearts ached for the kids and their wishes when we went to drop off our gifts for the wish tree.
They asked if we could choose a few more wishes to shop for, as they really wanted to see the tree with wishes, meaning all the kids would be getting a gift. How could I say "No." And, so we were back out shopping and wrapping and talking about the importance of giving back, what the holidays really mean, how to spread joy through kindness, community involvement and outreach and just being accepting of others.
Savannah will surely make a little girl happy when she unwraps this Disney Princess doll she asked for on Christmas morning.
Each and every time I found myself talking about these things, I couldn't help but think of the Clangers television series, which airs on the Sprout network.
Clangers covers so many great life lessons, including celebrating diversity, curiosity and exploring the unknown, family and friendship, just to name a few.
"The Clangers are a unique family of imaginary pink long-nosed creatures who live on a small blue planet in space. These inquisitive and adventurous creatures – who are very loving and supportive of each other and their friends - communicate through distinctive Clanger whistles. The Clangers family – alongside a cast of many other extraordinary creatures - create a warm and harmonious world of fun, imagination, exploration and invention."
It premiered back in June of this year on Sprout, and has become a favorite among my girls and myself. The show is all about kindness, community, discovery and accepting of others — all which are important during the festive season.
Family = LOVE!!!! :-)
I am so happy that a show like Clangers is available for young children to watch. Not only is it educational, but it also does a great job in instilling important life skills and morals in children, including Clangers who are all about kindness, acceptance and generosity. So, if you are looking for wonderful educational series for your preschooler that teaches social skills and life lesson, and have Sprout as part of your cable lineup, you will definitely want to tune in each and every evening at 7PM EST. Once you meet the Clangers and their friends and hear them communicating through high and low pitched whistles, you will see why my girls and so many other Sproutlets can't get enough of this new series.
And, as we get ready to ring in the new year tomorrow night with family and friends, why not spread joy of the season by giving back. Make 2016 the year you and your family give back to your community, to those less fortunate, etc. You can start new traditions that center around giving back. You don't have to wait until Christmas next year to give back. There are so many worthwhile charitable organizations and non profits who are looking for monetary donations throughout the year, as well as for people to volunteer. While my girls are too young to volunteer, they will be doing things like donate their allowance to St. Jude's, recycling and participating in Earth Day events including planting trees.
We can't wait to find other ways to give back and help out and will be writing down each and every thing we do to add to our 2016 Acts of Kindness jar, which will will jump out on New Year's Eve 2016 and read about all the great things we did throughout the year that benefited others.
"It's all very well trying to be something we aren't. But true happiness is being something we are."
What are your holiday traditions? And, how do you give back during the festive season? I can't wait to read your comments below and get ideas on how my girls and I can continue to gift of giving into 2016.
Don't forget to check out Clangers, which airs daily on Sprout Network. And, to stay up--to-date on all things Clangers be sure to follow Clangers on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/officialclangers and/or “Follow Clangers on Twitter” @helloclangers.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with “Clangers” and Coolabi. All opinions are my own.