Wednesday, December 22, 2021

#Twelvetide & Purposeful Kindness

12 is is one of those recurring, symbolic number--especially during the holidays.
  • There's the carol: "12 Days of Christmas"
  • The actual "12 Days of Christmas" fall on the dates of Christmas through January 5th, leading up to January 6th's Epiphany.
  • There's the cyclical nature of 12 months in a year, which is the cycle from one Christmas to another
  • And we have 12 hours doubled to make the 24 hour cycle that makes one day.
Those 12 actual Days of Christmas can also be called "Twelvetide."

I ran across a post about Twelvetide on Dr. Wallace J. Nichol's Facebook Page. [Dr. Nichol is the author of Blue Mind, one of my favorite environmental books.] The post was about both the 12 days between Christmas and New Year as well as their family traditions of random acts of gratitude, kindness, and community service. Their post was about their family list from 2016-2017. Some of the activities they did as a family that year included a beach cleanup, Starbucks gift card deliveries to those who were in need, letters to children in an orphanage, cookie deliveries to the forestation, a care package for an ill friend, thank you notes to mentors in their lives, sock donations to a homeless person, and more.

Ironically, parallels were instantaneous as I was also currently reading the book Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber. Essentially a lighthearted, holiday Hallmark movie in a book, this story was about a woman writing a blog about her crotchety neighbor (deemed "Ebeneezer"), and what the effects would be if she "killed him with kindness" for 12 days straight. [Spoiler alert--it worked.]

Podcaster Charlene Johnson has a similar tradition to the Nichols' #Twelvetide above called "10 Envelopes." This link takes you to this year's story of their family's annual tradition.

All three are variations on the concept of random acts of kindness. [This link, by the way, has a slew of ideas if you need some.] Purposeful kindness falls in line with the idea of giving--not just gifts but of your self. Giving is also a strong seasonal theme with Hanukkah, Christmas, and the African American holiday Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa falls December 26-January 1, and  has similar themes of community, unity, working together for the common good, and giving of themselves in the 7 principles. 

The beauty of purposeful kindness is that it does not have to be tied to any one holiday, any particular time of year, or any set religion.

As the year is winding to a close with Christmas and the pocket of Twelvetide ahead, and the start of the new year, maybe now is the season for you to practice some purposeful kindness. What big or little things can you do to go outside yourself to help others? With the stressors we've seen from everything between the pandemic to politics to other global concerns, now more than ever before, it might be the time to reach out and make the world better for each other. 

Whether it's one thing or a total of twelve, use this time of the year to pay forward some seasonal joy.

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