By Maggie Ingram

Our Christmas list looks very different for 2014. This year, we hope to start new traditions. Through my mother-in-law encouraging us to focus on serving and borrowing an idea of a dear friend, God is changing the meaning of Christ’s coming for my family.

For the last two years, I’ve watched this friend compile a list of everyday people like coaches, teachers, trash collectors, sick friends, family members, doctors, neighbors, and the list goes on. Her concept is simple: choose a person from the list each day and find a way to serve them.

Throughout December, she and her two sons bake cookies, write letters of encouragement, sing carols, and rake the yards of widows, single moms, and shut-ins. They read books to their friends undergoing chemotherapy and pack bags for the homeless. They take food to hungry firemen at the station and pass out piping hot chocolate to cold construction workers.

She has also worked endlessly finding Scriptures that coordinate with each person or the job they do so that her boys can associate the Word of God with their acts of kindness. She is changing her boys’ focus, but God is changing their hearts. Her sons have gone from wondering what will be under the tree to looking for ways to serve. It has been both humbling and motivating!

Mark 20:28 says the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. What if we all did that? What if all of our Christmas lists included people in need? Christ’s list included people who needed the curse of sin to be broken. But our list can include people who just need a warm meal or help with yard work or a letter to know they are in our prayers.

I know these things are an encouragement because I’ve been on other people’s lists before. Every year, my mother-in-law gives us a container of her special Russian tea mix because she knows it’s my husband’s favorite. She’s given me the recipe, but the anticipation of getting the festive container of spicy powder every year makes the holiday season official for us.

When she encouraged me to turn the focus around this Christmas, it was simple acts of kindness like passing out her tea mix that I had in mind, so I’m passing the recipe on to y’all now. I hope my kids remember this year as one that brought fresh traditions and fresh meaning to what Christ did for us by coming to earth. I hope it’s a year that my family can first look beyond our selves instead of heading straight for the trinkets in our stockings. I pray it’s one where we begin to skim the depths of God’s gift to us in Christ, our Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace.


Russian Tea

 1 cup Tang orange mix

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup instant tea

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

Mix together and store in an airtight container. Add 3 heaping teaspoons to 1-cup hot water.

Maggie Ingram lives in Madison with her husband and three children. She is a homemaker and loves a good book. Feel free to contact her at