I’ve told y’all about my roommate when I was a Freshman at Baylor – sweet Susan whom I corrupted with my cluttery ways. (see Coming Clean) After that year, I lived with the same group of girls until we graduated. One of our little gang of four was my friend Starr. Her full name – Angela Starlette Hammer. She was from Ringgold, Georgia and often signed her name with a hand drawn star and hammer. I have so many fun memories of Starr, one of which is her screaming, “Go VOLS” at her Tennessee Volunteers when they played on t.v. Though Ringgold is in Geogia, it’s on the Tennessee border. She & her dad were a die hard fans.

With December well at hand and Christmas break beaconing us on the horizon (ohhh… we just can’t wait!) we have some free time heading our way and I’m thinking about Starr and her “Go Vols”. Since my gang is a bit young for holiday employment, other than the girls hitting the baby-sitting circuit, they will be diving into the volunteer pool. We’ll start this week with by baking and serving cookies and hot chocolate at one of our favorite youth centers end of the year party. We’ll gather with friends to wrap gifts at a local food pantry. We’ll do some major de-cluttering and donating … and hopefully so much more. Last year was our 24 Days of Service, which actually made our Christmas special.

I’m not trying to be a slave driver. But, let’s just call a spade a spade. One of the predomoniate issues that invades a home like a virus when tween/teendom hits is … well… an overly healthy and overt fascination with self. So there.

A great way to combat the “it’s all about me” urge is to make it all about someone else – even if it’s only a one-off deal. To get their eyes elsewhere for a brief respite can’t hurt and just might help as we enter the season of giving. I keep reminding them after the “Mom – Okay, so this is what I REALLY want for Christmas…” followed by a list of the latest and greatest. Like Pavlov’s dog, I broken record, “Uhmmm… This is really about giving. What do you think your sister would like for Christmas?” Which usually recieves the reply, “Huh?…”

We’ve seen the super positive side effects of spending our time serving. Dare I say, even the kids look forward to it. They might not admit it, but I inwardly chuckle as I watch them noticing the people whom busy society can tend to overlook (like our friend Richard who stands on the corner of NW Hwy and Preston, the bus boy at one of our favorite eateries, our sweet old neighbor with whom a conversation can last and last …) then being compelled to give. One thing about serving – it’s hard to do it with with your eyes anchored on you. Like thankfulness, it is other-centered. A nice place for a teen mind to be… okay a mid-forty mind, too.

So, “GO VOLS!”

If only they could translate “serving others” to “serving siblings”. I guess (hope!) that’s another story for another day.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


In Dallas, here are a few opportunities:

Christmas in the Park – Charitable event providing South Dallas low-income community joy during the holiday season. Each family receives a hot meal, groceries, clothing, household items & toys. For more information, visit the website for Christmas in the Park.

Brother Bill’s Helping Hand –  Think Christmas Giving: Donate toys, wrap gifts, serve Christmas Eve. Contact Jill at volunteer@bbhh.org.

Interfaith Housing – lflowers@ihcdallas.org.

Union Gospel Mission – ugmdallas.org

so much more… Please let us know what your favorite volunteer event is. Maybe we’ll join in!

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