A Christmas Tradition – The Last Straw

When my children were small, I ran across a book by Paula Alangi called The Last Straw.  It is a story about giving – the type of giving that takes effort beyond a shopping trip to a mall.  It asks us to do what doesn’t come easy – speaking gently when we don’t feel like it, doing what is hard, etc.  I don’t know about you but I still need encouragement to give like this.  I loved this book because it came with a paper manger and every time someone did something nice without the other person knowing they would place a piece of straw from a nearby basket into the manger.  Every week beginning the first week of December, we would place the names of our family (adults included) into a paper sack and each draw a name other than our own.  We didn’t tell each other who we had and for the next seven days we tried to do kind things for that person.  I can still remember coming in one evening to my bedroom and finding my bed turned down.  I know it was one of the children because my husband was traveling for business at the time.  My children are adults now but I still place this book out every Christmas to remind me of the message of this precious story.  You see on the outside the goal was to create a manger filled with straw so the baby Jesus would have a soft place to lay on by Christmas morning.  On the inside I believe each one of our hearts were changed for the better.

The last I checked this book is still available.  But even if it isn’t, I hope you are inspired to use the basic idea and make December a month to be extra loving to your family as we remember the greatest love that has been extended to us and the reason for the season.

1. Place everyone’s name in a basket and once a week names are chosen – don’t tell who you have. Then throughout the week nice things are done for that person (anything from cleanning up a mess, to not saying something that may be hurtful, giving a compliment, etc) Remember this is not only about being good to someone we love but also gives us a picture of our heart motives. 
This idea came from a lovely book called The Last Straw by Paula Palangi. Highly recommend.