Traditionally, the 12 days of Christmas begin on December 25th and end on January 5th.
Both the religious traditions and the song The 12 Days of Christmas have Christian roots and symbolism. Regardless of our particular religious or spiritual beliefs, however, there’s a new 12 Days of Christmas tradition that everyone can participate in during the holiday season.
This tradition could help instill hope and joy in many—and bring harm to none.
Many of us would like to “make America kind again.” Instead of exclusively focusing on our own family and religious traditions during the holiday season, we can practice 12 Days of Kindness.
The idea is this: for 12 days (either the aforementioned dates or any others), we practice random acts of kindness for particular groups of people. We do so as a reminder to express our gratitude and as a way of spreading kindness and cheer.
As a single mother, I am trying my best to raise kind humans, and I’d like to begin this tradition as a way of instilling the value of kindness in my children.
12 Days of Kindness.
Day 1: Be kind to our environment.
On the First Day of Kindness, we can pick up litter, carpool or even recycle. I saw an excellent idea for taking up a battery collection and responsibly recycling them. We can also take a pinecone, roll it in peanut butter and then birdseed and leave it out of doors to feed the birds and squirrels. On the First Day of Kindness, we can choose to make our world a better place.
Day 2: Be kind to children.
On the Second Day of Kindness, we can participate in a toy drive, offer to babysit for friends or family with children to help with their holiday shopping or even donate gently-used clothes and toys to children in need.
Day 3: Be kind to the elderly.
On the Third Day of Kindness, whether we choose to sing carols at a nursing home or offer to walk an elderly person’s dog, we can find a way to show respect and appreciation for our elders. Other ideas include cooking a meal for our elderly neighbor, offering to drive someone on their errands or even visiting the elderly at hospitals or assisted living facilities to read to them or just keep them company.
Day 4: Be kind to marginalized groups.
On the Fourth Day of Kindness, whether we are a member of minority groups or not, we can choose to take action to promote fair treatment, opposing racism, sexism and any other forms of discrimination and bigotry. On this day, we may speak out against micro-aggressions that we observe. Other options include writing letters to politicians to advocate for these groups, donating to causes that support advocacy work or even participating in protests or other events to make our voice heard. It’s not enough to not be racist or sexist; we must also take action to stand against these things and promote equality and freedom for all.
Day 5: Be kind to service members and veterans.
On the Fifth Day of Kindness, we look for ways to support and show appreciation for service members and veterans. This could include sending a handwritten note to a deployed service member, cooking a meal for a veteran or volunteering to pack care packages for overseas service members.
Day 6: Be kind to our neighbors.
On the Sixth Day of Kindness, perhaps we leave a stocking for our neighbors to find, or we simply leave candy canes on every door in our neighborhood. Another idea is to Christmas carol at each neighbor’s door or plan a holiday-themed neighborhood party.
Day 7: Be kind to our communities.
On the Seventh Day of Kindness, we shop local and shop small to help boost our economy. We can make homemade goods for our mail carriers, sanitation workers and childcare providers. We can bring coffee or goodies to the crossing guards at our schools and churches. Generally, we use this day to look for a way to do good to those who serve us in the communities we live in.
Day 8: Be kind to those who are ill.
On the Eighth Day of Kindness, we could visit hospitals, donate books or toys and even donate blood. We recognize that many people spend their holidays in hospitals or rehabilitation facilities, and we can use this day to look for ways to make their holidays brighter.
Day 9: Be kind to the service industry.
On the Ninth Day of Kindness, we can leave an extra large tip for our restaurant servers and hair dressers. We can bake goods for those who provide services that make our lives easier—whether it’s the cashier at the grocery store or the valet who parks our car at a restaurant. On this day, we can make a special effort to acknowledge these people.
Day 10: Be kind to animals.
On the Tenth Day of Kindness, we can volunteer at animal shelters, adopt an animal from a shelter or make a donation to the Humane Society or local animal advocacy group. We can even make donations of food, toys, collars and leashes to local no-kill shelters, or spread the word about animals up for adoption.
Day 11: Be kind by giving.
On the Eleventh Day of Kindness, we can choose a charity and give of our time or money—depending on our ability. It can be as simple as donating a few dollars to a worthy organization, or giving an hour of our time to help out. It could be finding a family in need whom we can help with groceries or holiday gifts, or opening our home to a refugee family.
Day 12: Be kind by practicing a random act of kindness.
On the Twelfth Day of Kindness, we look for a way to be spontaneously kind. Let someone else go in front of us in line. Open a door for a parent with a stroller. Offer to purchase the person’s coffee in line behind us. We use this last day of our practice to simply practice small acts of kindness throughout the day.
Being kind and giving of ourselves doesn’t always take lots of time and money. Simply making the effort and looking for ways to help can have a ripple effect of positivity in our own lives and the lives of others.
If we want to start a new tradition, let it be one that commits to kindness. Let’s make America kind again.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Toby Israel