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My oldest daughter had to write an essay on our family’s holiday traditions. When I read her essay, I had the rare feeling of “Tim and I are doing something right after all!”

She started, “The day after Thanksgiving, my mom puts on Christmas music and we put up our tree and decorate it with ornaments.” She talked about our elf-on-the-shelf, our advent calendars, our nightly devotionals to the families whose cards we receive, and other small traditions I didn’t even realize she would notice. But she did! She wrote how she loved when her Mommy takes her to the dollar store all by herself to shop for gifts for her sisters and Daddy with the money she earned from good deeds around the house. I feel so comforted to know she is aware of these traditions, and these traditions make her feel warm and cozy. Merely knowing she is happy by these small things make all of the work for the holidays worth it to me.

Regardless of religion, the holidays spirit is so beautiful and friend and family oriented. Unfortunately, our culture has gone materialistic haywire, causing us all to feel overwhelmed and too busy to appreciate the small kairos moments in our world.

In an effort to re-focus my family’s priorities, I am starting a tradition this year to engage in volunteer work. I have talked to many of my friends here at the office. I so admire and look up to my friend Karen Gentile (Nurse Practitioner), for her caring, working hands on her last mission trip to Mexico. One of my dreams is to follow her footsteps when my girls are a little bigger (and even bring them with me). I also love my friend Rebecca’s (our nurse manager) family tradition. In lieu of gifts, her family picks a family in need over the holidays and helps fix up there home, donates furniture, etc. This year I took my older two daughters to Operation Feed My Starving Children.

We had the BEST time! My favorite part was watching my girls enjoy packing nutrient dense food to children who are starving. I will never forget this experience with them. Bella was dancing to the music in the background while filling the bags. My little Ava did not complain ONCE for being on her feet for 2 straight hours while she scooped up the veggies. We befriended other volunteers (and I am thankful for their patience with my girls) in our group. Overall, it was a true kairos moment for me; it was an experience I get to treasure in my heart forever. I asked the girls at the end, pointing out there was no right answer, “Would you rather get another American Girl Doll this Christmas (they already have one, but they asked for another one on their Santa list! The nerve!!) or help others less fortunate?” To my surprise, my beautiful sweet souls answered in unison– “HELP OTHERS”!!!