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A Different Type of Advent Calendar: Helping Others and a Poem

Linda Crampton is a teacher who enjoys reading and creative writing. Her favourite genres are classic literature, fantasy, myth, and poetry.

A massive Advent calendar outside a church in Berlin

A massive Advent calendar outside a church in Berlin

Celebrating the Advent Season

Advent is an important time of year for some people because it leads to Christmas and the birth of Christ. An Advent calendar is often part of the season for both believers and nonbelievers. Traditionally, the calendar gives us a gift as we open the flap or door of each date from December 1st to December 25th. The gift may be a picture related to the Bible or Christmas, a quote from the Bible, a small toy, a chocolate, or in the case of a digital calendar, an animation.

Discovering the hidden treats and surprises in an Advent calendar is enjoyable. I think it would be nice to modify the seasonal tradition so that we give a gift of kindness to others every day in addition to (or instead of) being given something ourselves. To me, the modified calendar is a better form of celebration of the season and its meaning. It's the idea behind my poem, which I show below.

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.

— Maya Angelou

Mighty Oaks and Acorns

The title of the poem is related to an old saying. “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” The saying shares the idea that small beginnings can lead to great things. According to the Phrase Finder website (a very useful resource), the earliest source of a statement resembling the quote comes from 1732. It was published in a book called Gnomologia written by Thomas Fuller (1654–1734).

Thomas Fuller was a physician as well as a writer. The full title of his book is quite a mouthful: Gnomologia, Adagies and Proverbs, Wise Sayings and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. Gnomologia are collections of short, wise, and sometimes witty sayings that were once used to instruct young people.

An acorn has great potential because it contains a seed. The acorn is a true nut. It doesn't open to release the seed inside. The seed is exposed when the outer wall of the acorn decays or is digested inside an animal's body. Though I love the mighty oaks saying, I think that (metaphorically) even if an acorn's seed grows into a small tree and never reaches a large size, it can be useful.

The greatest Oaks have been but little acorns.

— Thomas Fuller (via the Phrase Finder website)

Spreading Acorns

Advent starts with love
And promises of more
From us to humankind
Our companions in life

No matter what belief
Or whether none exists
A daily act of care
Helps others on the path

Mighty oaks may grow
To heal the world from pain
But smaller trees can serve
To send love into need

We might not save the world
From hate and misery
Yet sparks of joy may help
To burn despair away

If we aid but one
And one again next day
Ripples into life
May join to form a wave

A calendar of joy
Reminds us of the call
To spread acorns where we can
In hope of growing peace

By giving we are given
And inspired to try once more
Through Christmas and beyond
Till Advent comes again

Helping Others

Our ability to help others may depend on our health, finances, and other factors, such as our relationships with other people. Most of us can probably find a way to help someone else every day, however, even in a small way. While a major effort can be very helpful, small attempts to help others on a daily basis can also be valuable.

We can help people by giving them physical items or by sharing our time or effort. Some possibilities are listed below. I expect people can come up with many other ideas, including ones that are suitable for their own life and financial situation.

Some Possible Acts of Daily Kindness

  • Place a food item in a donation box for the food bank.
  • Donate one of the items bought for a “two for one” price.
  • Put clothes in good condition or other requested items in a donation bin.
  • Put money in a collection tin for charity.
  • Say “Yes” when a supermarket cashier asks you if you would like to donate money to a worthy cause.
  • Support students trying to raise money for a worthy event. (If you don’t want the cookies, doughnuts, or other treats that they’re selling, donate them to someone else.)
  • If you’re making cookies at home, make extra ones so that you can give some to a friend, a neighbour, or someone else who would appreciate them.
  • If your garden produces lots of produce, give some to a friend.
  • If you are buying a cup of coffee for yourself and know of someone else who would enjoy it, buy them a cup as a gift.
  • Don’t discard or recycle old books, magazines, or newspapers until you’ve checked to see if an acquaintance would like to read them.
  • Buy ethical gifts and greeting cards for Christmas and other special events to help people, animals, and/or the planet.
  • If your neighbour has mobility or time problems, do routine garden jobs for them, such as raking leaves or mowing a lawn.
  • Volunteer to walk a pet belonging to a friend or neighbour if it's difficult for them to do this.
  • Visit someone who is unable to leave home or who is in a care home or hospital.
  • Volunteer your time for an organization that helps people.
  • Make a friendly comment to a neighbour, a cashier, someone else who helps you, or someone in a line-up.
  • Smile at passers by or offer them a greeting. (In this day and age, unfortunately, you may need to be cautious about who you interact with and about where you interact with them.)
  • Donate food or other required items to an animal shelter.

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

— Dalai Lama

Making and Following a Plan

A plan to help others on a daily basis (as far as possible) can be put into action at any time of the year. Starting it early in the Advent period may give it a special energy for some people, however. Whether Christmas is celebrated as the time of Christ's birth, a time of good will towards others, or for both of these reasons, daily acts of kindness could be a great part of the season for both the giver and the recipient.

© 2018 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 25, 2019:

Thank you very much for the comment about the poem and the article, Roberta. I appreciate your kindness.

RTalloni on March 25, 2019:

Such a lovely, lovely and meaningful poem. Thank you for sharing tips to use Advent in a significant way to help others. This would give us opportunity to take a look at how blessed we really are in this day and time.

Kindly reaching out to help others is one of the highest forms of worship according to God's Word. The context of Mark 9:41 applied to the life of a modern Christian would look very much like the way you've summed up this post.

Though I am reading this in early spring, your theme of all the life bound up in an acorn reminds me of a phrase from another's writing, "Behind every green leaf tip is the power of God". Thank you for sharing your work on this topic.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 26, 2018:

I hope you're having a happy holiday too, Devika.

Devika Primic on December 26, 2018:

Happy Holidays! I like the idea for this season

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 08, 2018:

Thanks, Heidi. I hope you have a great Christmas.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 08, 2018:

What a great idea to share love and kindness during the holidays! Hope you're enjoying your holidays so far.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 07, 2018:

Thank you for the visit and the comment, Chitrangada. I think that helping others during a festival is a great way to celebrate the event, too.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 07, 2018:

Beautiful poem and your suggestions for the Advent season are so wonderful.

Helping others by the small acts of kindness, bringing a smile on the faces of those, who are not so privileged are some of the best way to celebrate festivals.

Thanks for sharing your ideas with others.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 05, 2018:

I hope you have a happy Christmas season.

PoetikalyAnointed on December 05, 2018:

You are welcome.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 05, 2018:

Thank you, Dora. I hope you have a very happy Christmas.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 05, 2018:

Your suggestions are most appropriate for the advent season. You have also given me an idea for my new year resolution. Great ideas here!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 04, 2018:

Thank you very much, Jackie. I love your comment and your ideas. I haven't had a Merry Christmas greeting in my daily life yet, but I have online. It's a lovely time of year for greetings and for planting seeds!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 04, 2018:

Beautiful Linda and loved your poem.

I am no spring chicken myself but I have been holding doors, like at the post office and anyplace I can for older people and they say the nicest things. I am even getting Merry Christmas already but I can tell it is pleasing to nearly all and the ones who have no thank you might at least give it a thought later and do a good deed in return. (Or plant a little seed.) You never know. Love really costs nothing and what a great time of year to show it.

Planting seeds are a beautiful idea anytime of year. So enjoyed this! Thank you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 04, 2018:

Hi, Suhail. I appreciate your comment. Thank you for the visit.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on December 04, 2018:

Hi Linda,

A poem, information on Advent, and tips on kindness, all in one article - priceless!

I enjoyed reading this article. I think I need to be more giving in my life though.

Regards,

Suhail

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 04, 2018:

I appreciate your comment, PoetikalyAnointed. I loved the first photo as soon as I saw it. I think the calendar and the colours are beautiful. You've raised a good point about being kind to ourselves if we offer others a lot of help.

PoetikalyAnointed on December 04, 2018:

Awesome and Inspiring Hub, Linda. The pic for the Advent Calendar is just Beautiful. Its concept is a wonderful way to celebrate the Season. I love the suggestions made for the acts of kindness. It doesn't take much to be kind. Sometimes, we have to add ourselves to that list if we tend to cater for others more.

Thanks for sharing.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 04, 2018:

Thank you very much, Penny.

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on December 04, 2018:

This is a beautiful idea and a beautiful poem!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 04, 2018:

Thanks for the comment and for sharing your story, Flourish. I've never seen the rocks that you describe. What a lovely idea.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 04, 2018:

The poem and the spirit behind it are both beautiful. Often it's the small things in life that can make a difference. I way having a not-so-great day the other week and I can across one of those painted rocks that people handpaint and leave out in the open in random places for others to find and take. Mine had an uplifting quote on it, and it changed my day. I kept it for a bit then left it elsewhere for someone else to find. I like your list of suggested ways to make a difference in others' lives. It often doesn't take much.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Thank you so much, Manatita. I appreciate your kindness a great deal. I'm looking forward to Christmas as well. Peace to you, too.

manatita44 from london on December 03, 2018:

Another interesting twist, my dear. You are writing some exquisite poetry and your message of self-giving, even though it's that time of year, is a joy to read.

I seem to have problems with the playback, but then I just had it on another Hubbers work. So let's see. Thank you so much, for this Advent Peace. I look forward to Christmas. Peace.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Hi, Pamela. Thank you for the comment. I hope you have a great Christmas.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 03, 2018:

Linda, I think the Advent calendar is a great idea. I liked your poem also. Happy holidays!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Thank you, Peg. I appreciate your visit. I hope you have a good day.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on December 03, 2018:

Wonderful suggestions at this giving time of the year. I love the idea of the giving calendar and your ideas for gifts are thoughtful. Sweet poem!

Ripples into life

May join to form a wave

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Hi, Bill. I like the idea of reversing the calendar as well. I think it's good as an alternate plan for Advent or as a joint activity with the fun of a traditional Advent calendar.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Hi, Mary. I like Advent, too. Sharing joy and a celebration is a lovely idea.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Thank you so much, Bill. I hope you have a great day, too.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2018:

What a beautiful thought, Linda! I absolutely love this idea of an advent calendar.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 03, 2018:

Hi Linda. I like Advent as it reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. These days, I do share joy and celebration and I feel it is multiplied as it is enjoyed together so a treat to a restaurant, a good bottle of wine or a fun time together. Many charities in our area no longer accept clothes except shoes and winter coats. We try to get a bag that groceries sell for a price each time we go to a grocery store.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 03, 2018:

What a wonderful poem, Linda. And the message is certainly one that we can all probably do a better job with, especially at this time of year. I love the quote from the Dali Lama. Have a wonderful day.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2018:

Thank you very much.

sheikh ali on December 02, 2018:

wonderful

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2018:

Thanks, John. Advent can be a special time of year. I think it's a good time to think of others.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2018:

Thank you, Verlie. I appreciate your visit and your comment a great deal.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 02, 2018:

Linda, what a wonderful idea for an advent calendar..giving as well as receiving.Very nice poem too. Thanks for sharing.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on December 02, 2018:

This is such a thoughtful way to turn the advent calendar around. I really like your ideas, and your poem is lovely. Nice work.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2018:

Thank you very much for the comment, Peggy. It would definitely be wonderful if the practice of helping others on a daily basis became widespread.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2018:

I love your poem and ideas of how to help others during Advent. It would be wonderful if this idea would spread worldwide to an everyday occurrence. Just think of the good that would come of that!

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