Friday, November 18, 2011

Alternative Advent Calendar

I have been a very, very negligent Blog momma. With the beginning of Advent just a bit away it seems a good opportunity for a bit of penitential blogging. An Alternative Advent Calendar is not my idea, but trying to come up with creative daily alternatives to small chocolate animals or tiny color pictures of Bible scenes seemed its own meditative practice. 
Day 1: Count the coats in your closet. Donate a dollar to a local shelter or outreach for homeless persons for every coat.

Day 2: Make a list of things that you are grateful for today.

Day 3: Remember the kindness shown to you the past year.

Day 4: Read and meditate on Isaiah 40:1-11.

Day 5: Call someone you have not talked to in a while.

Day 6: Send a Christmas card to someone who you have dropped off your list.

Day 7: Having lunch or dinner out? Donate an equal amount to help feed hungry children.

Day 8: Having lunch or dinner in? Donate the cost of the meal to your local Meals on Wheels program.

Day 9: Make a list of everyone you feel you might want to forgive. Purchase and begin read Dr. Fredrick Luskin’s, Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness.  Begin to be more forgiving—feel better.

Day 10: Saturday. A good day to volunteer your time. Consider a local food pantry, family shelter or teen outreach.

Day 11: Read and meditate on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24.

Day 12: Going shopping? Pick up a gift for someone who might not otherwise receive one this year.

Day 13: What time did you get up this morning?  Donate that amount (i.e. 7:15 am = $7.15) to improve water quality in your area.

Day 14: Count the number of electronic devices you own. Donate that amount to improve water quality in a developing nation. (i.e.: 1 iPhone + 1 iPad + 5 TV’s +2 Wiis +1 BlueRay + 1 wireless router + 1 printer + 2 desk tops = $14)

Day 15: Write a holiday card with a note of thanks to some service person (i.e. dry cleaner, gas station attendant, grocery store stock person) whose work impacts your life in a positive way. Hand-deliver it.

Day 16: Baking holiday treats? Make extra. Share the sweetness with someone you do not particularly like.

Day 17: Saturday again. Going to a party tonight? Try to pay an honest compliment to everyone you talk to.

Day 18: Read and meditate on Luke 1:26-80.

Day 19: Only five shopping days left! Last minute gift ideas: Cows, sheep, pigs, chickens—a donations in someone’s name to Heifer International.

Day 20: The first night of Chanukah. Light a candle and read the story of the Maccabees, you will need a Bible with an Apocrypha. The story is a bit long and complicated. A Children’s Bible might be better—even for adults. 

Day 21: The longest night of the year. Reach out to someone who is grieving this holiday season. If you are grieving, let someone reach out to you too.

Day 22: What was the favorite Christmas Carol of your childhood? Sing it with that same love to a favorite child.

Day 23: Make snow angles. No snow? Be an angle—practice a random act of kindness. Got snow? Be kind anyway.

Day 24: Light a candle in the darkness. Listen to “O Holy Night.” Pray with family and friends that on this night, and every night, Christ is born into your heart, giving light to the darkness of your life so that you may be such light in the darkness of other lives.

Day 25: Open presents, enjoy food, family and their good fellowship. Pause: read and meditate on John 1:1-18. How will you receive Christ anew into your heart? How will you use the power of such grace in the coming year?