“Twelve Days of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 64
Our family has begun a special tradition based on the traditional 12 days of Christmas, which historically were celebrated after Christmas in remembrance of the visit of the Wise Men to Bethlehem. However, we celebrate for 12 days before Christmas by sharing our Christmas spirit with another family. During the first part of December, we choose someone in our ward or neighborhood who is in need of a little extra Christmas cheer.
Then, 12 days before Christmas, we begin delivering our gifts. The first day we leave a one-item gift, such as a loaf of bread, along with a poem or thought securely attached. The second day we leave a two-item gift, such as two candles. The third day we’ll leave a three-item gift, and so on through all 12 days until Christmas Eve.
Our children like to deliver the gifts. They usually drop off the gift on the front doorstep, ring the doorbell, then run and hide until the family answers the door and finds the gift. We vary our routine to avoid being caught in the act of giving. On Christmas Eve we read the Christmas story in the Bible (see Luke 2) and discuss, among other things, the sweet experiences we have had as a family.
Sharing the 12 days of Christmas secretly with another family each year has helped bring us closer together as a family. It also teaches our children the importance of giving without expecting anything in return.—LaDeana Wilke, Mason, Ohio