We celebrate Lent in my house. Lent is the season where some Christians prepare for Easter with forty days of practicing sacrifice, discipline, repentance and fasting.
Sometimes, it bugs me a little when people use Lent as a weight loss plan or a second chance on New Years resolution diets. This only lasts for the couple days before Lent begins when people are talking about their planned sacrifices. Being pretty faithful, I’d like to see people give up not going to church instead of potato chips. But in the end, I don’t truly care what other people do or practice. It’s not my business, concern, responsibility or something that I think about with any regularity.
Plus, this year, my kids and I are observing Lent in a non-traditional way – a way that isn’t sacrifice, discipline, repentance or fasting, so I’d be awfully hypocritical to be concerned with others’ personal journeys.
What we are doing this year is “making a conscious effort to do something nice for someone every day of Lent.” We talk about this sort of things regularly, so we have ideas and things we’ve done in the past, but never had we made a bit point of it. I’ve been sticking to it, but not holding the kids to it every single day. Some days they will get an assignment, and some days they can just think back if they did something for someone that day (and when they can’t think of anything, they’ll typically run off and do something and come back with a report). We don’t count stuff we would normally do – like any volunteering I would normally do, birthday cards, complimenting or giving something to a good friend, or help or conversations we would normal give or have with someone.
I thought I would share a handful of the ideas the kids and I have come up with and done that are easy with kids, and also look for suggestions of things we can do with the few weeks we have left of Lent. A lot of the ideas my kids brainstormed before Lent and in the first week were buying gifts, but they’ve quickly learned that money isn’t necessary and just how easy it is to do something nice. It’s fun to see how small the act can be to get a big reaction (from the receiver or internally) and that its nice to do things secretly forgoing any recognition (being on the shier side of the spectrum, we often prefer that)
. We’d love ideas of any sort, as our creativity is starting to run out!
- Make and mail cards, notes or pictures to relatives or friends (or calling them on the phone)
- Donate (While we have spend money and bought a few things for donations, you don’t need to spend money – we’ve cleaned out used clothes/toys, found some unopened toys we had for local Easter Baskets, but also our linen closet held extra toothbrushes and lotions we likely wouldn’t use before expiration for a toiletry drive in town. You can also donate volunteer time.)
- Compliment someone, we’ve been working on complimenting things you can’t see (like appearances, clothes or backpack key chains). One of the best reactions was when my daughter and I went to a coffee shop together last weekend for some drinks while running errands and we were in the car talking about how great the drinks tasted, so we called the store and thanked the barrista for doing such a great job and told him how much we enjoyed it, all of the workers were giggling with pride and happiness. It didn’t take more than two minutes.
- Random Thank You or Thinking of You cards (to teachers, bus driver, friends)
- An old favorite in our house: baking a surprise for someone
- Doing something special for someone in the house (helping someone pick up a room or other chores, playing the game someone else wants to play and letting them be the boss, giving someone the Lego pieces he really wants even though you had them first and were using them, taking time to do something special with or for the dog)
- Small thoughtful gifts (new, used or homemade – we made a CD for someone last week, printed out coloring pages for someone else, we are thinking about writing a story for a friend and making a bracelet for another who mentioned they were looking for something in a certain color)
- In our neighborhood we’ve filled bird feeders, bringing in someone’s trash cans, picked up trash in a neighbors yard, and moved a newspaper from the bottom of a driveway to the front doorsteps
- Sitting with someone on the bus who usually sits alone or asking someone new to play at school/recess, or taking someone new along with old friends (this was just ideas, my kids haven’t had the nerve to follow through on this!)
- Saying a prayer for someone
What are your ideas?