• Sarah

Angels and Mere Mortals

When I was growing up, we had a tradition at Christmas time. Every year, after Thanksgiving, we would play Angels and Mortals. The concept is similar to Secret Santa. Everyone in the family draws names from a basket. The person drawing the name is the angel. The name they draw is their mortal. (It's a good idea for Mom to have a master list of the Angel/Mortal pairings.)

On Christmas morning, the angel bestows a simple gift to their mortal . The gift given on Christmas morning is meant to be a small token. The focus of the game is on the acts, not physical gifts. We would go to a Dollar General and pick out a gift that was very particular to the mortal. If your mortal was crafty - yarn, thread, or paint was chosen. Artsy? Crayons, colored pencils, or construction paper were good options. A gardener? Small terracotta pots and a packet of seeds would be selected. A handy man type? Work gloves or a simple (and often misplaced) tool like measuring tape would be a great match. Baker? What about pot holders, a whisk, or even sprinkles? You get the drift. The point is to study your family member and be thoughtful in your gift selection.

Every Christmas, my mom would take the ribbon from unwrapped presents to make the bows. The used ribbon was curled, cut, and tied up with leftover twisty ties. These ribbons were kept from year to year in a Christmas container. This container being unpacked was one of the first signs that Christmas was nearing for us as kids and helped to build the anticipation. Also, a small basket of miniature candy canes was left next to the bows. These could be randomly left for the mortal as well and I think you can guess which basket emptied first.

As kids, our acts would be to make the mortal's bed, pick up their dirty laundry, and do their assigned chore for them. Smaller children often need the parent's help in performing these tasks but they get so excited to participate. A small bow is left to indicate the angel's visit.

Of course, the mortals will try to guess who their angel is throughout this time leading up to Christmas. I make a rule that they can't do so formally. It's one thing to conjecture out loud, but it's another to directly ask someone if they are the angel. We often would perform good deeds for others in the family just to throw the scent off our trail. On Christmas morning each mortal gets to officially guess their angel.

One thing we didn't do as children, but I am encouraging my children to do is spiritual acts for their mortal. We have physical needs, but often more pressing, spiritual needs, too. Taking time out of their day to pray or to offer a small sacrifice for their mortal embodies the spirit of the game entirely. The entire game is an exercise in placing other's needs first, seeking out ways to be helpful to others, and being thoughtful in actions and gifts. It helps children to realize that God loves them so much, He anticipates their needs year round, and provides for them.

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