Cookies & Carrots

Advent messages from around the world

December 4th, 2021

Cookies and Carrots (Serving others)

John 13:12-17

What’s your favorite cookie? I am a lover of shortbread cookies and vanilla Oreos. I seldom leave the store without a package of one or the other. But, unfortunately, when it comes to me and my cookies, I am not always a good sharer.

Children leaving out cookies, milk, carrots for Santa varies from country to country. Children in Sweden leave rice porridge, while kids in Australia and Britain leave out mince pies and sherry. In Ireland, kids will leave out a plate of cookies for Santa but include a pint of Guinness for him to wash it down with. Little ones in France leave out a glass of wine for Father Christmas and fill their shoes with carrots, hay, and other treats for his reindeer. And in Germany, children skip the snacks and instead leave handwritten letters, believing that Santa will collect the letters and leave gifts in their place.

My favorite tradition of leaving cookies and milk comes from the Great Depression right here in the United States.

Leaving cookies and milk for Santa—and perhaps a few carrots for his reindeer—took off as an American holiday tradition in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. In that time of great economic hardship, many parents tried to teach their children that it was essential to give to others and show gratitude for the gifts they were lucky enough to receive on Christmas. (


In the Gospel of John, just after Jesus washes His disciple’s feet at the last supper, He says:

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

When Jesus washed the disciple’s feet at the last supper, it wasn’t just because their feet were dirty.  (they probably were, this was a tradition when a visitor came to someone’s home). Jesus did it to show and teach them that no one is too big or too small to help others. We need to serve others, as Jesus did.

Jesus served us by dying on a cross. While on earth, He also did so by feeding thousands, healing many, and even bringing several people back to life. We need to serve others by helping and giving to those in need, even if it hurts a little.

Why not make it a family tradition to serve others regularly. It could be helping at a food kitchen, volunteering at a sharing center, or maybe even giving some cookies to a homeless person you see on the street. Amen.

Lord, our lives are steeped with family traditions. Help us to be more like Your Son Jesus and make it not just a tradition but a regular part of our lives to serve others as He serves and served us. Amen

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