Our Cub Scouts are filling December with holiday service opportunities.
Weekly activities have and will include gathering bedtime storybooks with Activity Day girls to send in APO boxes so troops can be video-taped reading stories for their children back home; coloring greeting cards for our missionaries serving abroad; tying fleece blankets to be given with food baskets for families in our ward; making wood crafts or water-colored gifts for moms' Christmas presents; and together delivering the 12 days of Christmas to a recently widowed woman in our Mormon ward.
This week, we prepared the 12 tags and gifts, and each Scout family will take turns delivering our version of the holiday song.
When I was a little girl, our family tradition was to choose an older person or couple in our ward and deliver 12 anonymous gifts beginning Dec. 13. My mom altered the lyrics of "The 12 Days of Christmas" to match little treats or trinkets but still expertly kept the cadence and rhyme and, most importantly, provided Christ-themed alternatives.
I still remember the adrenalin rushes of leaving a gift on the porch, ringing the bell and trying not to slip on the snow as I ran down the street to the waiting car where little siblings were quietly giggling.
I still remember a particularly icy night when I chose to hide rather than run and grouchy Brother Rogers caught me on the side of his house. Luckily I had enough composure to say "Merry Christmas" instead of screaming in terror in the light of his flashlight.
Recently, my oldest brother asked if we (I) could remember mom's old verses so he could do the activity with his Boy Scouts. When I suggested that would be a great idea for my Cub Scouts as well, childish bantering that I'm sure will continue until we are 90 prevailed throughout the process of singing each verse and coming up with alternatives.
When our sister heard of our project, she wanted the script for their Idaho Cub Scouts. So, here is mine for all to use in whatever form fits your special recipient.
12 Days of a Cub Scout Christmas
On the first day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... a bottle of sweet pears that taste so sweet.
On the second day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... two turtle dove chocolates (Dove chocolate does make them in the form of a bird).
On the third day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... a cornish hen and some french bread. (A rotisserie chicken works well, but a frozen little cornish hen for one or a turkey for a whole family make a great holiday meal).
On the fourth day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... a birdhouse for my calling birds (Boys are so into birds and birdhouses, and Cub Scouts could make it from a kit).
On the fifth day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... five golden pineapple rings (in a can, tied with a bow or a pineapple upside-down cake is nice for a family).
On the sixth day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... six geese's eggs (We attached a little goose sign on a half-dozen box of chicken eggs and included a gift set of pancake mix and syrup for a nice holiday breakfast).
On the seventh day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... a warm robe after swimming (or bathing) with the swans. (Depending on the recipient, you could also give a gift certificate to the community swimming pool for an FHE activity, a ticket to a Swan Lake ballet production – this one has lots of possibilities).
On the eighth day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... milk from eight milking maids (In a cute basket, we put several pint bottles of milk and egg nog).
On the ninth day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... flames dancing on a holiday-scented candle (The dancing motif can be used in a variety of ways as well. I remember giving ballerina ornaments as a child).
On the 10th day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... popcorn ready to leap and pop (Popcorn and Cub Scouts do go together, but we've used a lot of leaping frog-themed gifts in the past).
On the 11th day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... piping hot cocoa and a warm blanket.
On the 12th day of Christmas, a Cub Scout gave to me ... a CD of drummer's drumming holiday favorites. (Some department stores are offering quality instrumental CDs for as low as $1.)
While my version of this project ended up low-cost and simple, it could be simplified even more. My brother went the other direction because he's serving larger families and received community donations. But however large or small, it can be done! For me, dedication to the nightly drop-offs keeps service forefront during holiday chaos.
I'm grateful my Scouts will deliver in uniform instead of dropping and dashing. The conversation and connection with a sweet ward sister should make her Christmas a little brighter — and ours as well.