Days 21-25: Parties, Coaches, Surprises and Grace

Welcome to the 25 Days of Giving. Each day we’ll focus on a different way you can teach your kids to give to others. If you missed the start of this series, you can find it here. Put the focus on giving instead of getting at Christmas this year because Jesus was a gift to us. Join in the fun by reading each day, then posting in the comments ways that you help your kids give to others at Christmas. Don’t forget to share this series with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

This is my last post in our 25 Days of Giving series, so we're going to wrap it up with the three things we did over the weekend and the two things we're doing today and tomorrow. I hope you've enjoyed the series and have put some of its ideas into practice in your own home.

Friday was cookie party day. Every year, we host a cookie decorating party for the girls' friends. This year, we had 14 kids in the house icing and liberally dousing cookies with sprinkles. It's a great way to get kids in our house during the Christmas season where we can share the joy of Christmas with them. Each year, we choose a charity and have everyone bring something to donate. This year, we chose Shoes4Souls and had everyone bring a pair of new or gently used shoes. Shoes4Souls takes those shoes and gives them to people who have lost everything in natural disasters. Turning the party into a reason for giving is a great way to get kids focused on giving to others rather than on receiving everything for themselves.

Saturday found us with one last hockey game before Christmas. My daughters coaches are all volunteers. They show up for practice twice a week and voluntarily put themselves on the ice with 40 kids who have blades on their feet and sticks in their hands. It takes a brave person to get in the middle of that chaos. We so appreciate all our coaches do for our daughters. They don't just teach them the game, they teach them life lessons like what it means to be a team and how to win and lose well. Every season, I pray that my daughters will get coaches who will coach them not just from a sport perspective but who will be concerned with their character as well. So far, God has blessed us with those types of coaches. So, on Saturday, we showed our appreciation for our hockey coaches by taking them cookies and a gift. Appreciate those people in your kids' lives who invest their time and energy in them.

Yesterday, my parents gave me a gift. They came and picked up the girls so we could prepare the girls' big Christmas surprise (which I'll tell you about after Christmas). The girls were tasked with surprising their grandparents with something good. I know my younger daughter took a peppermint to share with her granddaddy (who loves them). I don't know what my older daughter chose to do as they're not home yet. God surprises us all the time. He gives us things we don't deserve and passes on giving us the consequences we do deserve. He provides beautiful sunsets, great friendships and comfort in times of need. Surprising others with acts of love simply follows God's example.

Today, is brunch day at our house. Many years ago before we had any family in town, we started getting together with other friends who didn't have family to share Christmas Eve with. The tradition has grown to encompass several families and my parents and brother. We'll have a house full of people today, which can be frustrating for my girls, which can end up being frustrating for my girls as they have to share their toys and space. So, today, they're being asked to give the gift of grace. I'm asking them to show some extra patience, smile when they'd rather yell and offer grace to anyone who needs it today. Because that's the true message of Christmas -- God sent His Son to bring us grace. "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Tomorrow, we're not going to focus on giving; instead, we're going to focus on what God gave to us. Tomorrow's card simply directs the girls to spend some time thanking God for the gift of Jesus. While we'll have plenty of presents to unwrap and joy to share, we'll also be sure to take the time to remember that tomorrow is Jesus' birthday -- the day when love took on human form and grace became flesh.

May you and your family have the merriest of Christmases. May your celebrations be focused on the tiny baby in a manger who came to save the world. And may your day be full of love, joy and kindness.

Merry Christmas!