“25 Days of Christmas” Fail

Last Christmas season, Dan and I established our first holiday tradition as newlyweds. We performed a random act of kindness, a service, or presented a gift on each of the first 25 days of December.

Photo by Ander Burdain on Unsplash

Things like, delivering firewood to a single mom, hand-crafted wreaths to widowed friends, a craft project to a family with young children, serving meals to homeless clients at Family Kitchen.

Needless to say, it was hilariously fun.

Sadly, though, within the first week of this year’s “25 Days of Christmas”, we experienced two major fails.

It was a Monday. Dan had driven into the Ochoco Mountains to work on an all-day electrical project at a camp for youth. And I planned to make a quick stop at a coffee shop on my way home from a medical appointment.

I twiddled my thumbs during the appointment, and then drove impatiently through traffic to the coffee shop.

Placing my Chai latte order, I pulled forward to the window. “I want to pay for the car behind me!” I said with gleeful anticipation.

The barista checked his computer screen. “Um, the woman behind you ordered ahead with the app.”

Me: “OK, how about the car behind her?”

Barista: “There is no car behind her.”

My shoulders sagged in disappointment.

The next day, plumbers showed up to finish connecting the gas line to our fire pit.

Remembering the fun of delivering fresh-baked goodies to our construction crew last winter (some might call it bribery), I hastened to pull out baking sheets and measuring cups and ingredients for white chocolate chip orange cookies.

But the plumbers finished and left as I was putting the first pan of cookies into the oven. Had they taken just 12 minutes longer …

Second fail.

There is much joy in being able to give or be in service. But when the opportunity is sidelined, it oftentimes leaves the giver reduced, much like the deflating of a hot air balloon.

In Acts 20:35, the Apostle Paul quotes these words of Christ:

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Most of us have experienced this firsthand—this happiness that comes from giving and serving.

But have we ever stopped to consider the collapse of joy when we decline an offer of service: “So thoughtful of you, but not necessary”? I’m guilty of this. Numerous times.

If my leg were in a cast and a friend offered to clean my house, I’d probably hobble around cleaning. And then I’d relax while my friend cleaned my clean house.

Being able to accept a gift requires a humble spirit, which brings great joy to God.

Practice saying after me: “Yes, please. I’d love you to clean my house while my broken leg mends.” “Yes, please. My older kiddos could use a play date while I nap with my newborn.” “Yes, dinner delivered tonight would be wonderful.”

Give it a try for the remainder of this holiday season and into 2022. And see if the faces of those who want to bless you don’t light up like a Christmas tree.


Why show up for class?


Does knowing you’re dying change anything?


  1. Good point. I remember a sermon where the pastor talked about an older woman at his church who was always wanting to do things for him. When he tried to decline, she asked, “How can you deprive me of a blessing?” What could he say to that? 🙂 I agree–while we should be giving to others, we should also allow others to give to us. That’s what makes for community.

    • Well said, Susan: ” … while we should be giving to others, we should also allow others to give to us. That’s what makes for community.” Thank you!

  2. Sarah

    Love this reminder!!!! Thank you for always modeling such authentic kindness and joy, Marlys.

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