Inspired by the Twelve Days of Christmas holiday song. Ideas on progressively giving more significant gifts of gratitude and offering more exceptional acts of kindness.

In case you did not know, the twelve days of Christmas actually starts on December 25th and goes through January 6th, the Epiphany. It marks the birth of Christ and the coming of the Wise Men. In the original holiday song, on the first day of Christmas, a true love sent to their fair maid a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

On the second day of Christmas, that true love sent two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas, three french hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

You get the idea. Each day, a new gift was added, along with another round of the ones previously sent. By the time you get to the twelfth day that true love was sending:

Twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

All very nice indeed. Though, let’s face it, does one really need all those people coming around every day, for twelve days, piping, leaping and dancing? And really, what is one going to do with all those birds, except clean up after their poop. Even the golden rings are a bit much. You only have ten fingers. Part-kidding, though not. I think this time-honored holiday favorite seems both dated and excessively unnecessary in light of today. So…

What if we were to rewrite The Twelve Days of Christmas? This time, instead of giving gifts that one does not really need, how about gifts of gratitude and support? Something everyone can use. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and supported. It is part of our nature, along with feeling loved and connected. And, how about offering love and kindness not to just one person, but to many of those around you?

Let’s reimagine this song as a list of ways you can be grateful, helpful and kind during the twelve days of Christmas.

  • DAY ONE, handwrite a note of gratitude to someone meaningful in your life. Deliver it to them in person and read it out loud.
  • DAY TWO, handwrite two notes of apology to people you want to make amends with. Have them delivered with flowers.
  • DAY THREE, help three people try something new. It can be the same thing.
  • DAY FOUR, call four people you have not spoken with for a long time. Speak with each of them for fifteen minutes and really listen.
  • DAY FIVE, choose five friends and donate five dollars to their favorite non-profit.
  • DAY SIX, spend an hour doing a loving-kindness meditation for those you love and those you do not.
  • DAY SEVEN, leave well-thought-out compliments for seven people on social media.
  • DAY EIGHT, spend eight hours volunteering for a local cause that you care about.
  • DAY NINE, give a ninety-minute massage to someone.
  • DAY TEN, do ten meaningful random acts of kindness. Paying for someone’s coffee. Feeding a parking meter. Helping to put groceries into a car.
  • DAY ELEVEN, give eleven calming candles to people who are the bright lights in your life.
  • DAY TWELVE, have an appreciation dinner for twelve people. Mix it up with those who are close to you with those you barely know.

Perhaps after twelve days of this kind of gift-giving, you will see that these gifts are worth far more than any drummers drumming, pipers piping or partridge in a pear tree. The real gifts of true love are those from the heart, filled with heart.