Hushed whispers. Questions about my favorite color. Furtive runs to the mall. Not so casual inquiries about where I have hidden the wrapping paper.
This is the now familiar scene at my house a few days before Christmas or my own December birthday when the following panicked thought dawns upon my husband and children: What are we going to get for Mom?
In their earnest love and eager desire to please me, my family wants to pick out the perfect gift, and I deeply appreciate their efforts. However, by the time I finally arrive, exhausted and harried, at Christmas morning, the one thing I want the most is not a thing at all.
Instead, I long to be pampered and spoiled like the recipient of the lavish gifts described in the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
Except unlike her, I have my own wish-list for celebrating those 12 days—Catholic homeschool Mom style— and it has nothing to do with partridges in pear trees or even those pricey golden rings.
Take a moment to sit back, hum the familiar tune, get out a pen and paper, and make your list for the Catholic homeschool Mom in your life. This version of the song provides a variety of no-cost gift ideas that even the smallest child can help participate in.
From acts of service, to spiritual treasures, to help with the chores and schoolwork, be inspired to think out of the box this year and give Mom a gift she will remember forever.
1. An Hour Alone
On the first day of Christmas, my family gave to me: an hour alone with a cup of tea.
As a homeschooling Mom, alone time usually requires that I leave the house. Give Mom some time at home, alone, this Christmas season to curl up with a favorite book and a cup of tea or do nothing but enjoy the silence.
2. Two Cleaned Cars
On the second day of Christmas, my family gave to me: two cleaned cars.
A joke in our house is that we can feed our family for a week with the remnants of food that litter the floor of our car. Nothing is more fun for kids than getting the hose out and a pail of soapy water and cleaning the car.
If the weather in your neck of the woods prohibits that, kids of all ages seem to be fascinated by the car wash. Mom will appreciate the clean car and the alone time she gets while you are out!
3. Three Scrubbed Toilets
On the third day of Christmas, my family gave to me: three scrubbed toilets.
No explanation required.
4. Four Book Reports
On the fourth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: four finished book reports.
Oh how I look forward to Christmas vacation and the break from the never ending coaxing and cajoling that seem to accompany our regular homeschool routine.
If unfinished work looms ominously over your Christmas vacation, encourage your children to finish their work cheerfully as a gift to Mom.
5. Five Holy Hours
On the fifth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: five Holy Hours.
The high point of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” is the extravagant five golden rings. The psalmist tells us that the things of the Lord are “more desirable than gold” (Ps 19:11).
Give Mom the most precious gift of time spent in the presence of the Lord. Better yet, commit to going to some of these Holy Hours together as a family and enter into the true meaning of Christmas.
6. Six Hours of Babysitting
On the sixth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: six hours of babysitting.
December is a harried time of year for most Moms. In addition to the demands of everyday life, the season itself carries with it additional demands: shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, baking—the list goes on and on.
An afternoon of babysitting can provide Mom with the extra time she needs to check off some items on her Christmas to-do list. Turn this into a no-cost option by taking turns babysitting with another family.
7. Seven Meals Delivered
On the seventh day of Christmas, my family gave to me: seven meals delivered.
When I first started homeschooling, a veteran Mom told me that out of the following three tasks, she was typically only able to complete two on any given school day: homeschool the children, clean the house and cook dinner.
How prophetic that statement was! Some days it is a real challenge to get a healthy, homecooked meal on the table.
Give Mom the gift of a week’s worth of meals—they can be pre-cooked and frozen, or delivered each day by friends and family.
8. Eight Closets Organized
On the eighth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: eight closets organized.
The thought of Christmas with its influx of new toys and clothes can send me into a panicked frenzy over where I am going to fit everything. A family act of service can be to go through all the closets in the house and organize each one of them before the gift-giving begins.
Divide the contents of each closet into three piles: purge, donate and keep. Whatever is kept can be neatly organized.
A warning: don’t purge or donate any of Mom’s personal items without getting her permission first!
9. A Nine Day Novena
On the ninth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: a nine day novena.
One of the most treasured gifts I have ever received is a Spiritual Bouquet – which is simply a gift of prayers offered on my behalf by others.
Pray a novena for the homeschooling Mom in your life – offer it for her intentions, her health, her spiritual growth and in thanksgiving for all the sacrifices she makes on your family’s behalf.
10. Ten Graded Math Tests
On the tenth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: ten math tests graded.
By far my least favorite homeschooling task is to grade my children’s work. A great gift would be for Dad, a grandparent or even a capable older sibling to grade tests and other work for two weeks (or more) in December.
11. Eleven Finished Loads of Laundry.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my family gave to me: eleven loads of laundry finished.
12. Date with Dad
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my family gave to me: a 12-hour date with Dad.
Date night in our house can be an elusive proposition. Even more elusive is for my husband and me to spend a whole day out together.
This “date day” doesn’t have to be filled with costly activities – morning Mass followed by a stroll through a local park and several hours lingering at a coffee shop or bookstore talking freely and enjoying each other’s company are perfect.
What are some of the best no-cost gifts you have ever received or given? Share your ideas and your wish list in the comments below!