12 days before Christmas

Christmas teddy bear. Photo courtesy
Christmas teddy bear. Photo courtesy

Holidays can be lonely and painful for people who have lost a child or other loved one during the year. You can bring surprise, laughter and joy by giving them the "12 Days of Christmas."

On Dec. 13, the doorbell rings, no one is there, but one gift (poinsettia, candle, etc.) sits on the front porch. A card attached says "On the first day of Christmas, your friends give to you one...?" 

Each day brings a numbered card with that many gifts: 2 cans of popcorn, 3 ornaments, 4 bread and jams, 5 balloons, pizza with 6 pepperonis, etc. Gifts may show up at work, at a child's school (with permission), car windshield, so forth.

Contact neighbors of the recipient, a child's ball team, church or work friends to provide this surprise. Make a chart to show:

  • Dec. 13: Day 1, 1 gift, planned gift, giver's name and phone number.
  • Dec. 14: Day 2, 2 gifts, 2 gift certificates, Jacob and Heather, 663-4646
  • Dec. 15: Day 3, 3 gifts, 3 angels, Jamie and Sarah, 664-8575

Give each one a matching card (make them fun) with the right number on it to attach to the gift, and the address of the receiver on the back. Remind the givers with a text, call or email.

Schedule a time on Dec. 24 for all who have provided gifts to go to the recipient's home to carol and reveal themselves (maybe with 12 cinnamon rolls)! Hug and go away with a touched heart. If Dec. 24 does not work for the recipient, find another time to reveal the givers.

For someone in a nursing home or unable to get to their door easily, wrap 12 gifts (slippers, popcorn, lip balm, jewelry, books, magazines, chips, a poem about them, a gift certificate, so forth). Put them into a pretty basket, and deliver on Dec. 13. Instruct the recipient to choose one gift to open each day. It is a good idea to put in a few extras for those who forget or get too excited and open more than one a day.