Now Or Never

BLOG | How I roped my teenagers into doing random acts of kindness

After a few years opting out of Christmas traditions, Rebecca Hass decided to try something new this year - persuading her family to do random acts of kindness.
Rebecca Hass and her family getting into the holiday spirit. (Linda Hass)

By Rebecca Hass, Now or Never contributor

We quit Christmas a few years ago after my husband and I became Buddhists, our daughter a practicing Wiccan and our son a confirmed Atheist. The rituals of the season that used to bring joy had begun to feel like going through the motions at best, and at worst, like we were at war with Christmas. 

This year I wanted to call a truce with the holiday season. I came up with a "12 Days of Random Acts of Kindness" project. I even made this sticker chart so my family could chart their successes.

Rebecca Hass created a '12 days of random acts of kindness' sticker chart for her family. (Rebecca Hass)

But would this project bring us the feeling of joy at Christmas that we had lost?

Many days it was a struggle. The kids often felt like they had failed and stickers were scarce when we debriefed daily at supper. My 19-year-old daughter Clara found it stressful to track acts of kindness.

"It feels like it has outside motivation then, in a bad way, or ulterior motives. It just kind of feels like you're being self-serving and not just doing something nice."

The most successful act for us was baking cookies and decorating them together.

Rebecca Hass persuaded her teenaged kids, Fletcher and Clara, to do 12 days of random acts of kindness over the holidays. (Mike Lenz)

They turned out really well, if we do say so ourselves.

Holiday cookies ready to give to strangers. (Rebecca Hass)

Our plan was to pass out them to homeless people we came across in downtown Victoria. The family bonding as we walked the streets together and shared our quest for kindness was the highlight of this experiment.

My 17-year-old son Fletcher, who had big reservations about approaching strangers on the street, ultimately said the experience was all right.

"I just enjoy hanging out with my family. That was the real big moment."

This project helped my family rediscover a Christmas we can get on board with. We found connection and community. We will do it again next year!   

Are you inspired to try your own "random acts of kindness" project with your family? Rebecca found a few online resources: this TEDx talk by Botlhale Tshetlo and the Random Acts of Kindness website are good places to start.