Recycling Christmas Cheer throughout the Coming New Year

Of the left-over items from the holiday season, CHRISTMAS CARDS may present the most perplexing puzzlement of all.

leftovers2

Christmas cards have become somewhat of a societal anomaly, after all. Where letters have transitioned into e-mails and passing thoughts get texted without enough thought, Christmas cards are one of the few remaining print expressions that actually still (most often) travel through snail mail – frequently from those who we’ve not truly heard from in ages past, despite potential social networking opportunities that often reveal very little beyond “it’s complicated.”

Perhaps because they’re a little more festive or maybe because we try to imagine the people opening their postal boxes, then opening our cards, we take a little more time in their preparation. After choosing a card (or making one) that conveys our personalities (or maybe our children’s growth), sometimes we buy fancy colored pens that glitter, or make a trip to the post office to buy season-appropriate stamps, or tuck a special thought or a little gift inside. Whatever the case, the recipient is left to understand that he/she was “special enough” to have been gifted with this extra effort.

Therein lies the quandary – what to do with this special endowment once the holiday season has passed. When the halls are no longer dutifully decked – and the house is no longer a jolly wreck…when everything around you appears sterile once more…what do you do with the remaining evidence of others’ thoughtful Christmas spirits? Do you just throw them into the trash – to be carried off and tossed onto a garbage heap? How very un-green (and red) of you!

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

How about some GREEN Christmas Card Re-Cycling Ideas that will continue to spread Christmas Cheer instead?

  1. Okay, here’s the most obvious “re-cycling” idea. Choose some of your favorite cards and cut out pieces to make your own homemade Christmas cards next year. Don’t do it on your own though – how does that spread any Christmas cheer? Have a little card-making party. If you want to wear silly sweaters and do it with your BFF’s, fine. But instead of setting yourself up to say, “I thought we’d never come back from that one” (yes, that was an eye roll)…What if you included some young, glue-sticky hands in your fun? Invite the creative energy of kids to join you (e.g., youth group, boy or girl scouts, children’s church, foster kids, mission trip kids – wherever you might be able to get involved). You may have to hold onto these cards for several months, but by fall, these children could be making cards to give to special people and brighten their days. Up the ante by having the kids send (or deliver) the cards to folks in an elderly residential home or to soldiers. Look beyond yourself and share the spirit from beginning to end.
  2. Re-cycle the blessing back to the individual(s) who originally blessed you. Place your pile of Christmas cards into a basket. Each night (or once a week – you can set your own reasonable time schedule), pull a card from the basket and resolve to pray for the name(s) on the card. Not only will you be blessing the sender of the card, you’ll be sneaking in another blessing for yourself once again. The card that keeps on giving…
  3. Take your re-cycling efforts a step further. Mail that card back to the original sender, letting that person know you prayed for him/her. (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then just follow my lead from here.) Enclose a special note to the person(s) whose name(s) is/are in that card, letting that person feel the special touch of Christmas at an unexpected moment. You may not even know what’s going on in that person’s life; but I’ll bet he/she could use a blessing. How’s that for spreading cheer throughout the year?
  4. Combine any of the above ideas for a whole new dimension of bless-ed fun! Help some kids cut out cards to make new seasonal cards. Can you imagine Santa saying “Hoppy Easter”? Or sending a partial card with a note to your friend, explaining the other parts of it were prayed over &  sent out with a special note to someone in the armed forces or in an elderly living facility?
  5. Create a collage of the fronts of Christmas card clip-outs onto a board and shellac it for a family member who either can’t be with you for the holidays or can’t be with you throughout the rest of the year. Send it to them as a writing/laptop board to remind them of your cheery love throughout the time you all are apart.

Come up with some new ideas of your own – and share them here for the rest of us to enjoy!

And may your year be full of Christmas blessings!

-just jody

Half-Empty a Pessimist Does Not Make

jodyism_16_generational_half_empty

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt was: The Glass, asking the age-long consideration:

Is [your] glass half-full, or half-empty?

Why, Yes, Thank You!!

 

A Few Related Articles – follow this link for a few more:

Daily Promot: Is the glass half full or empty? | AnxiousElephant

The Bipolar Journey of my Hypothetical Glass | The Magic Black Book

Daily Prompt: The Glass « Mama Bear Musings

729: Daily Prompt: The Glass – “It is half empty” | SEVEN Hundred 50

Daily Prompt: Burnt

Daily Prompt: Burnt

Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

  1. My Dignity. I hadn’t actually ever considered how it would feel to be standing in the middle of my neighbor’s front yard, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter, shivering not from the cold…but from a mixture of my heart iced over with fear and embarrassment, along with the realization that I wasn’t as invincible as I once thought myself to be. Though some unspoken bystander had tentatively loaned a coat to rest across my shoulders, my legs were as bare and exposed as my heart – except for frightened children clinging to each one of them along my sides. Whose clothes will we be wearing as the sun brings more light to the matter than do the stale embers that have been doused by sweaty, black-ashed firemen who now stomp across the foundation of my life?
  2. My Memories. Though I clutch the one photo album I was able to snatch in my free arm as I was dragged out by my other, everything else feels numb and void. How will I ever again come to recall the welcomed warmth that once oozed out from a door which no longer stands? Will I recall hide-and-seek with my little ones who loved a cupboard that no longer exists to open to them and provide refuge? Can my recall of my quiet evening trysts with my husband, once the kids were tucked away snugly (and safely?) in their beds, be snuffed beneath that flame? What if I forget all that I held preciously high once behind walls that have crumbled low to the ground?
  3. My Senses of Humor and Adventure. I used to long to run from my house, excited to go out into the vast world, full of unknowing. But that’s when I knew I could always return to my own little safe-haven here. And now, there will be no coming home. Fear seizes me, licking me up in its flames. Life was so carefree just a few hours ago, tears only streaming down from the laughter as little ribs wriggled under my tickling hands. Fear chokes the joy from my smoke-filled throat. To leave under these circumstances doesn’t feel like an adventure or offer me any reason to smile. Is this a death sentence, after all? There will be no return to my innocent life’s naivete.
  4. My Gratitude. Did I truly refer to those cloaked angels who just risked their lives for my family and our neighbors as ‘sweaty, black-ashed firemen stomping across the foundation of my life’? One of them is being treated for burn wounds now – while my family is not. Do their families lie awake at night, praying for their safety? Why can’t I gather the courage to approach the men choking at their trucks and offer a simple thank-you? Do my children wonder why I don’t go use the grateful words I’ve preached to them, day after fire-free day? I don’t even have the means on which to compose my thoughts and send them later, once my mind comes to a better place of rest. Or will it?
  5. My Sense of Peace. Will I ever be able to fall asleep at night again? Or will I awake to pseudo-crackling sounds, hearing my house creaking in protest, trying to hold its posts – standing strong for its beloved occupants longer than its charred frame should allow? Can I ever bear to close my own bedroom door again; to be separated from those sweet, small faces crying and screaming out for me, clinging to my arms as I strip them free, dropping them in terror from an upstairs window, entrusting their care to others below? Or will I travel through this nightmarish hell, night after restless night, in my terrifying dreams? Will I ever want to warm myself near a campfire again? Oh, how long will it be until I can reclaim my mind’s peace?

I numbly sit, rocking tired, tiny bodies, wishing I had a place to lay my head – to wrap my mind around it all. How will I again gain control of my life? Then I remember. My life is not my own. Even my children’s lives do not belong to me. I Peter 1:3-7 reminds me that I should not rely on the things of this earth. None of them are meant to be a permanent structure in my being, so my peace and hope can’t come through such things. Even what seemed to be a safe, comfortable home is not – it will never fully meet my needs.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

It’s time for me to claim that peace that will only come through my LORD – to be thankful for those who have come to help, to care for those with whom I’ll make beautiful new memories, to recognize that there will be laughter once more, and to venture to stop trying so hard to be dignified. That is, after all, just self-glorification. In being His, I can simply learn to trust; learn to be satisfied. Carefree comes with a price – the price of losing my life…so I may find it (a better life – in Him). Maybe – just maybe – I’ll be refined by this fire, after all. A new life…a clean slate…a chance to rebuild from the ashes.

______________________

Related Links:

Vanilla and Chocolate Swirls

32 Flavors:

Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely?
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When my oldest son was in first grade, one of his best friends was William. Both boys were tall for their age, looking each other eye to eye. They both enjoyed romping around on the playground and playing kickball on the poorly kept baseball field during recess. And they loved to climb up their make-believe metal fortress that led to a monkey bar bridge where they could swing into battle or to freedom – depending on the fantasy of the moment. Perhaps some likeness such as height or outdoor/sports interests brought these two boys together in friendship. But nearly every afternoon, after I had picked my son up from after-school care, I’d get to hear about that day’s imaginary adventures – with the majority of them fondly including the name William.

One afternoon, when I arrived to pick my son up, I became concerned when I couldn’t spot him anywhere on the playground. One of the kids (most likely William) called out that he was inside. It was a magnificently beautiful day, so I couldn’t imagine why my son – who loved to romp outdoors – would have sequestered himself in the cafeteria commons. I didn’t have to wait too long for my answer, though, as my foot hit the first stair going in that direction.

The head of the afternoon daycare, Ms. V – a stern, matronly sort – sharply greeted me with, “He’s sitting inside, in time-out.”

“Okaaaay….” I drawled out, expecting to get an explanation as I continued ascending the stairway. When all I got was pursed lips and ‘the evil eye,’ I took a stab at, “May I ask why?”

“Your son made a very prejudiced remark today, and we don’t do that here,” she nearly spat at me, crossing her arms to emphasize her disgust.

Needless to say, I was horrified. My heart began to race; my palms became sweaty. My first real ethical confrontation as a young parent. Where had I gone wrong?! In no way had I taught my child anything about racial differences or prejudiced behavior. My best work friend (which is the only place I could afford the opportunity to have friends at that time in my life) was of a different race than me; and my husband’s best work friend (who he always found time to hang out with beyond work) was of a different race than him. These friends came to our house when life afforded it and socially interacted with us and our two young sons. I felt horrified, suddenly also recalling that my son, himself, had a dear friend at school (named William) who was not of his same race – though he’d never made mention of it, leaving me to hope that he was spiritually color-blind. Surely, there was some mistake here. I wanted – no, I needed – some clarification.

“Who did he make the remark about?” I nervously began.

“He called William a bad name.” I could feel her glare on the back of my neck, as I’d already walked past her around the corner, to the inside to find my son.

“William?!” I blurted. I was shocked and probably stuttered the next words. “But…William is one of his very best friends!” It was then that something didn’t feel right in my soul. I felt that B needed to have the ability to tell his side of the story and that I needed the ability to turn this into a learning opportunity for him. “Is this true, B?” I asked, coming upon my 6-year-old son, whose head was hanging low.

He looked up at me with tear-filled eyes and answered, “Yes, but he called me a name first, momma.”

I turned to the director. “Is that true?”

“It doesn’t matter. What your son said was racist,” she firmly responded, throwing her head up to emphasize her positional authority over us both. No sooner had she said it than I saw William timidly peeking around the corner.

“Hi William,” I greeted him. “Would you come over here and let’s talk about this together?”

He nodded, his eyes wide as he approached.

“Since B’s in trouble, I’m going to let him tell me what happened first, and then you can tell me if it was something different, okay?” I asked, worried as I said the words, wondering what horrible thing I was about to hear.

William dropped his head and nodded.

I looked at B, my eyes conveying that I expected to hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I knelt down beside him so he couldn’t hide his face from me.

“We were climbing the jungle gym,” B tentatively began, “and…and…William was behind me, and…I wasn’t climbing fast enough. He wanted to get around me, so…”

I looked at William, waiting to see if he would affirm the story, thus far. He stepped up next to B and nodded his head.

B seemed satisfied at his agreement and continued. “So William said to me, ‘Move out of the way, you vanilla ice cream cone!’” (I had to purse my lips to hide the amusement, as B dropped his head in shame as he went on with his story.) “So I said, ‘Oh yeah? Well, if I’m a vanilla ice cream cone, then you’re a chocolate one!’”
The boys’ eyes caught one another’s and I saw that they, too, were both trying to hide an exchanged grin.

“And then…?” I pressed, bracing myself for the worst to come, wondering how much worse the progression in name calling was going to get.

“And then…well, Ms. V yelled at me to get off the jungle gym and come sit in time out – that I wasn’t to ever say that again because I was being p-p-…,” he nearly sobbed.

I was mortified, not even wanting him to say the word, or to understand its meaning – lest it could have the future ability to define something in him that would take away his innocence. I threw up my hand for him not to continue. I’m sure my cheeks were burning, as I was feeling pretty livid at the moment. I looked at both the boys, unable to address Ms. V in that instant. “So, let me get this straight. William, you called B a vanilla ice cream cone?”

“Yes’m,” he answered, looking a little embarrassed.

“Do you like vanilla ice cream cones?” I asked.

“Yes’m,” he answered again.

“Me too,” I smiled. “And B, you called William a chocolate ice cream cone?” I verified.

“Yes’m,” he answered, still looking ashamed.

“Aren’t chocolate ice cream cones your very favorite?” I pressed.

“Yes’m,” he looked up, his eyes showing a little light to them once again.

“Well, let me tell you both a little secret,” I continued. “My favorite kind of ice cream cone comes from using the handle in the middle – the one where it swirls the vanilla and the chocolate together.” I received two big grins at this revelation. “And that’s what you two ice cream cones need to go and do,” I said, poking them in the bellies. “Go swirl around and play nice together while I talk with Ms. V. And no more name calling – even if it’s one of your favorite things, so no one has to sit in time out again! And…if you two can get along, maybe we can all go one day soon and get us an ice cream cone after school together!” Their smiles went full force at this.

 choco-vanilla-swirl

I didn’t ask Ms. V if B was dismissed from time out before I sent the boys on their way, which truthfully was a very uncharacteristic response for me. Being one of the youngest parents at the school, I’m sure I usually felt intimidated by the older and more child-experienced teachers. But on this particular occasion, I knew I was the one who had gotten it right. These kids weren’t jaded and I intended to keep it that way for as long as the matter was under my control. So I didn’t feel intimidated when I turned to this director and nicely chastised her by saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the worst thing the rest of the world could ever think to call one another was a vanilla or a chocolate ice cream cone? I’m sure we’d all be better off.”

I didn’t need to wait for her answer. I just turned and walked away.

Teacher’s Pet

Michelle from WordPress pressed: Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

In a time when teachers have ridiculous outcome expectations flung upon them in the midst of conditions where it becomes nearly impossible for many of them to actually teach, I’m so glad you asked this question, Michelle. I am so long overdue in giving out some necessary thank yous…


“Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.”
-B.F. Skinner


If I had a time machine, there are two classrooms I would surely enjoy going back to revisit now that I have a meta-cognitive awareness of why the teachers who conducted sessions within them were two among my very short list of favorites. Though these teachers taught me at extremely different times in my K-12 educational experience and though their subject matters were quite different, these ladies both possessed common factors in their instructional approaches. As a matter of fact, my admiration and respect has grown immensely more, if I thought that were even possible, in my realization that these women had a firm awareness of their learning theory preferences and went to great lengths to assure they actively engaged their learners in these philosophies and practices.

Faye Duke was my third grade teacher. In the 1970’s, this sweet, bubbly, petite blonde, who wore modern polyester mini-dresses well enough that all the boys in our class still have a crush on her to this day, looked as if she should not yet be out of high school herself. I suppose an active classroom of 8 to 9-year-olds could have made a late breakfast of her, but she kept us far too busy in activities from the time we walked in until the time we left each day for us to dream up any trouble (short of a couple of stolen cheek kisses at the bottom row of the back bookshelf).

How the 3rd grade boys saw Miss Duke when she walked into the classroom.Image Courtesy of CBC Player Web site

How the 3rd grade boys saw Miss Duke when she walked into the classroom.
Image Courtesy of CBC Player Web site

Miss Duke’s philosophy obviously included the importance of establishing and engaging learners as a community. Though our curriculum was rigorous, including learning our multiplication tables and how to write in cursive, we never seemed to have the sense that we were slaving away in school. Because she vibrantly and excitedly approached every new topic as an adventure, we believed her, enjoying every moment of what we accomplished together. We learned our telephone manners with desks facing one another, authentic telephones in hand. We learned to set extracurricular goals together, such as helping one another prepare for the upcoming spelling bee, putting together a mini-choir for our school’s talent show, and quizzing one another on newfound math skills. We created our own poetry and illustrated our own stories; and, in some aging teacher’s attic, there may yet be a copy of a story about Roxy the Rabbit, written and illustrated in an educator’s magazine by a 9-year-old elementary student named Jody Love. The pages of the magazine may be faded, but the social learning environment set up by Miss Duke has not. Though I left that elementary school the following year and it has now been many forgotten a few years since, I have reconnected with many of my prior third grade classmates, via Facebook; and we still vividly recall our experiences from that year, enthusiastically sharing them with one another.

Sylvia Wade entered my life as I began my sophomore year of high school.  My new Spanish I instructor was tall and willowy in shape, with dark, wavy hair and cinnamony-brown skin. As a woman of Puerto Rican heritage teaching in a predominantly white southern middle-class school, no one would have ever thought to question her authority in her position anymore than her expertise in her subject matter. Differences were only beautiful comparisons to be esteemed in her classroom. She had a way of easily blending everyone into a like-minded community that could have the power to end all prejudice in the world if her magical formula could somehow be bottled and distributed. With immensely warm cheerfulness, she conducted her class sessions with a welcoming sense of humor that caused people to look forward to being in her presence. During my two years of Spanish with Ms. Wade, I learned to conjugate verbs and carry on conversations (well, sort of) without ever feeling as if the tasks were mundane or too far out of my ability’s grasp. As her students, we performed quite a bit of role play, eventually getting beyond the embarrassed giggling (okay, not always) to making pragmatic preparations for the day when we might take a future Senior Spanish trip with our beloved, bilingual teacher to Mexico. (Unfortunately, I left a year too soon and missed that trip – but I came to realize the educational journey was the most important trip I’d made.)

Ms. Wade’s missed runway calling (had she not answered a higher one to teach).Photo courtesy of: http://aloftyexistence.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/top-black-models-of-the-decade-2000-2010/

Ms. Wade’s missed runway calling (had she not answered a higher one to teach).
Photo courtesy of: http://aloftyexistence.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/top-black-models-of-the-decade-2000-2010/

Judgment was never attached to who could or couldn’t roll their r’s or how badly we might have interpreted during our extemporaneous exercises. Rather, we were praised for our attempts as we all laughed together, helping one another stumble through the transition of forming Spanish words from English thoughts, self-assessing our improvement as we went. I remember a surprise visit from our principal once, who entered a classroom full of laughter with a stern expression on his face. Ms. Wade approached him warmly, patted him on the back, and teasingly explained to her class that our principal thought all we did was play in there. We were suddenly proud to be able to showcase our learning so we might assure him otherwise. That was the only smile I ever saw from him during his tenure as my principal. He, too, seemed pleased with what was being accomplished there.

I’ve recently reflected on the brilliance of how these two women inspired me and others like me to believe we weren’t getting a traditional scholastic experience. They tricked us, if you will, into learning more than we realized in what appeared to be an informal, social setting. Furthermore, our retention was obviously greatly enhanced, as I cannot describe many other classrooms in which I have attended from those early years or remember many other teachers to the extent that I am able with these two, nor have I maintained many other peer relationships from those years in which we discuss other teachers to the extent that has been so with these two instructional matrons. In essence, these women have become ghost mentors to model in my own instructional career. It would be a natural extension of that admiration, then, for me to reflect upon and enact these associated theoretical beliefs and learning philosophies.

In revisiting my two ghost mentors, Miss Duke and Ms. Wade, I readily subscribe to the notion that learners are more greatly impacted by delivery related to context rather than content. It is within a carefully planned and engaging environment that a learner has the ability to combine cognitive, behavioral, affective and social learning domains to make a lasting connection with the content being introduced or reinforced. Attention to this procedural aspect of obtaining knowledge likely enhances the attaining of conceptual knowledge. Both of my ghost mentors actively engaged me with application in what I was learning. They gave me glimpses of how I would procedurally interact with such content in future contexts, aspiring me to achieve greater goals (such as being published or traveling to another country) than I might otherwise have thought possible for myself. These women were change agents, bringing innovation to the classroom that learners eagerly adopted because it was radically different from the boring means by which we had otherwise been forced to endure instruction as recipients of a sometimes mundane educational process. The only contextual meaning of social education we otherwise understood was being packed together into a classroom of crammed-into desks and told not to communicate with one another – else, we would be negatively disciplined. Such a structure of formal public education did not truly equate to social learning, the element that seems to be key in the motivation I experienced in my then-indiscernible apprenticeship with my ghost mentors.

These two teachers were also active facilitators within their settings, purposely leaving their own desk space to become actively engaged within their designed learning communities. Miss Duke surrounded us with her lively presence, even singing with our little choir on stage to support us. Ms. Wade immersed us into another culture, taking her classes with her to another land, whether she was helping us bumble through interpretations in our classroom with our southern accents or leading groups of seniors to Mexico (to roll r’s in mixed accents). Both of these ladies created the means for positive affective synaptic connections to learning, praising us when we were right or praising us for our attempts, so we would have the courage to tackle the problem set before us once again. They brought their learners into a Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky), teaching us to be facilitators of one another, operating as resource exchange agents in our problem solving development, providing motivation through stimulated emotional satisfaction. This, too, is the sort of community in which I want my own students to develop as they make choices to engage and reside within it.

How can you not like love a teacher who strives to help you like what you’ve accomplished in yourself?

In the words of Sylvia Wade, herself…Con mucho cariño. -j

Recycling Christmas Cheer throughout the Coming New Year

Of the left-over items from the holiday season, CHRISTMAS CARDS may present the most perplexing puzzlement of all.

leftovers2

Christmas cards have become somewhat of a societal anomaly, after all. Where letters have transitioned into e-mails and passing thoughts get texted without enough thought, Christmas cards are one of the few remaining print expressions that actually still (most often) travel through snail mail – frequently from those who we’ve not truly heard from in ages past, despite potential social networking opportunities that often reveal very little beyond “it’s complicated.”

Perhaps because they’re a little more festive or maybe because we try to imagine the people opening their postal boxes, then opening our cards, we take a little more time in their preparation. After choosing a card (or making one) that conveys our personalities (or maybe our children’s growth), sometimes we buy fancy colored pens that glitter, or make a trip to the post office to buy season-appropriate stamps, or tuck a special thought or a little gift inside. Whatever the case, the recipient is left to understand that he/she was “special enough” to have been gifted with this extra effort.

Therein lies the quandary – what to do with this special endowment once the holiday season has passed. When the halls are no longer dutifully decked – and the house is no longer a jolly wreck…when everything around you appears sterile once more…what do you do with the remaining evidence of others’ thoughtful Christmas spirits? Do you just throw them into the trash – to be carried off and tossed onto a garbage heap? How very un-green (and red) of you!

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

How about some GREEN Christmas Card Re-Cycling Ideas that will continue to spread Christmas Cheer instead?

  1. Okay, here’s the most obvious “re-cycling” idea. Choose some of your favorite cards and cut out pieces to make your own homemade Christmas cards next year. Don’t do it on your own though – how does that spread any Christmas cheer? Have a little card-making party. If you want to wear silly sweaters and do it with your BFF’s, fine. But instead of setting yourself up to say, “I thought we’d never come back from that one” (yes, that was an eye roll)…What if you included some young, glue-sticky hands in your fun? Invite the creative energy of kids to join you (e.g., youth group, boy or girl scouts, children’s church, foster kids, mission trip kids – wherever you might be able to get involved). You may have to hold onto these cards for several months, but by fall, these children could be making cards to give to special people and brighten their days. Up the ante by having the kids send (or deliver) the cards to folks in an elderly residential home or to soldiers. Look beyond yourself and share the spirit from beginning to end.

  2. Re-cycle the blessing back to the individual(s) who originally blessed you. Place your pile of Christmas cards into a basket. Each night (or once a week – you can set your own reasonable time schedule), pull a card from the basket and resolve to pray for the name(s) on the card. Not only will you be blessing the sender of the card, you’ll be sneaking in another blessing for yourself once again. The card that keeps on giving…

  3. Take your re-cycling efforts a step further. Mail that card back to the original sender, letting that person know you prayed for him/her. (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then just follow my lead from here.) Enclose a special note to the person(s) whose name(s) is/are in that card, letting that person feel the special touch of Christmas at an unexpected moment. You may not even know what’s going on in that person’s life; but I’ll bet he/she could use a blessing. How’s that for spreading cheer throughout the year?

  4. Combine any of the above ideas for a whole new dimension of bless-ed fun! Help some kids cut out cards to make new seasonal cards. Can you imagine Santa saying “Hoppy Easter”? Or sending a partial card with a note to your friend, explaining the other parts of it were prayed over &  sent out with a special note to someone in the armed forces or in an elderly living facility?

  5. Create a collage of the fronts of Christmas card clip-outs onto a board and shellac it for a family member who either can’t be with you for the holidays or can’t be with you throughout the rest of the year. Send it to them as a writing/laptop board to remind them of your cheery love throughout the time you all are apart.

Come up with some new ideas of your own – and share them here for the rest of us to enjoy!

And may your year be full of Christmas blessings!

-just jody