Toledo Christmas 2020 Countdown- Activities to Enjoy with Your Kiddos

“It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love…every song you hear seems to say, Merry Christmas…”, The Christmas Waltz, by Frank Sinatra hums in the background, spiced pumpkin latte candles fill the air, as the fire in the fireplace envelops the space like a warm hug.  The children put the finishing touches on their gingerbread house before changing into their cozy matching PJs to watch the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, and string (and eat) popcorn to hang on the Christmas Tree. That is how I have always envisioned spending Christmas time, when in reality it’s more like a cyclone of ‘to do’ lists…clean house, decorate house, buy gifts, me losing my patience and yelling at kids to get their PJs on, or anything that resembles PJs, because I am lucky enough if I get them matching Christmas clothes let alone matching PJs.

There is a lot on our minds this time of year and sadly the things that slip away are usually the things we would really enjoy doing with our children, like decorating a gingerbread house, stringing popcorn, decorating cookies, etc. Not this year! This year we’ve been given a special unique gift, the gift of quality time together, due to COVID and the need to practice social distancing our calendars and obligations are limited, thus, lets slow down and TAKE BACK THE JOY of Christmas with this awesome countdown to Christmas activities! Read more

Perfect Alternative to Elf on the Shelf?

As many of you know I sent the Elf on the Shelf packing last year. My reasons were many, click here to read more. Though, I must admit, it did feel like something was missing last year.  I missed the added enthusiasm the children displayed; their eager eyes every morning, and that extra dose of magic that added to the already exciting anticipation of the birth of our King.  I wanted a tradition that centered on the true meaning of Christmas. I really despised the whole idea of; if you are good you will get something…um, hello, what about the overflowing joy that fills your heart when you give?   I want to be able to ask my children, how are you coming along on your Christmas list? And their response to be something along the lines of, good, I just have Nana and daddy’s gifts left to buy, not, I have narrowed it down to 12 things I want! I figured there was nothing like that out there and then I happened upon a kit in the clearance section of the local Family Christian Bookstore, The Christmas Angel kit.

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The kit came with a book, toy stuffed angel, golden dust, and tin for storage. Book & stuffed animal combo sound familiar? The basic idea is that the Christmas Angel comes in the evening when the children sleep and writes a message, an act of kindness to complete, in the golden dust (glitter that is spread in the bottom of the tin).Hmmm….I was totally skeptical!

I stood there in the clearance section for a lengthy amount of time having a conversation with myself. (I am really hoping I am not the only one who does this…always keeping it real, no matter how embarrassing).

I asked myself the following questions:

If I purchase this am I simply replacing one ridiculous tradition with another? Will this tradition encourage a selfless Christmas or foster selfishness? Is it about the receiving or the giving? Is this tradition practical, will we be taking on too much during an already very busy season?

My responses to my own questions (I know, I am a total dork):

If I purchase the Christmas Angel kit I will have more flexibility and control over the tradition since I would be the one writing the messages, the acts of kindness, in the gold dust. I could also alter the messages if need be, if we do not have time to complete an act of kindness one day I could instead leave a message expressing affirmation for a random act of kindness a child facilitated the day before (it is so important we acknowledge and praise a child when they do good, far too often we only focus on punishing them when they do something bad). This tradition would definitely be focusing on the giving, making someone else’s day brighter, and fostering a selfless Christmas. Conclusion, this new tradition would not be ridiculous, this tradition would fill our hearts with the joy of giving, and this new tradition would center on something real, the Christmas Angel.

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So I bought it!! And the day after Thanksgiving we read the book and I introduced the children to our new tradition!

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How was it received by the children?

The children were beyond elated. We read the book and all three of them, including our 10 year old, were enthralled. They even decided on a schedule of who shall sleep with the stuffed angel each night. Then they made a special request before they went to bed, they asked if they could write the angel a thank you note in the golden dust, it melted my heart to hear them request such a beautiful thing. Thus began their communication with the Christmas Angel.

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CLICK HERE to purchase your own Christmas Angel Kit and checkout some fun activities!

Need some acts of kindness ideas:

Examples of what we will be doing include, make an invitation inviting our neighbor to dinner, donate toys & books, decorate cookies at a nursing home, sing carols with friends, let a sibling go first, help mom without being asked, take stuffed animals to the children’s hospital, make a thank you note & treat for local firefighter and police, thank your guardian angel, etc. Keep it as simple as possible; remember this is supposed to add to your joy not take away from it. And don’t forget to entwine some messages of affirmation and praise for those random acts of kindness you children do.

What are some acts of kindness you do as a family during Christmas? What traditions do you have during this joyous time of year? Please share.

 

 

Why there is no Elf on our Shelf?

Dear Elf on the Shelf, it’s over!

I remember it like it was yesterday, there he was sitting in the book /Elf combo package grinning ear to ear, dressed in red and white, with that mischievous expression froze on his face. Oh the excitement and anticipation I exhibited pondering how to introduce him to the family. Would they like him? Would they accept him? I read the book to my family, carefully placed our Elf on the shelf on the mantel and hoped for the best. The next morning the children’s eyes lit up with enthusiasm when they spotted our Elf. It was official, he had been accepted, and we had just started a new family tradition!!  You know how people say be careful what you wish for, same goes for traditions, be careful what traditions you start.

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It has been five years since I first welcomed that Elf into our home.  The children have grown and are now 4, 7, & 9 and they still eagerly await the Elf’s presence each year. But this year I hesitated.  Why, you may ask. Well, this year when I asked our 4 year old what Christmas was about the first thing she mentioned was the Elf? That was when I knew we had a problem, when the elf trumps Jesus’s birthday we have a huge problem! So I sat back and contemplated our relationship, what we had been through, and what was best for the children. And here is what I have concluded.

  1. I am so sick of the lying! I am so sick of lying to the kids. Sure we can come up with clever ways of calling it something else…magic, small fib, etc. bottom line, when I have to come up with a creative story about how you got into the house I am lying! Not to mention, some of the stories have you not looking so good, they have you border lining breaking and entering night after night, after night, etc.
  2. This relationship is way too high maintenance for me! I am so exhausted at night after cleaning up from the day and preparing for the next day, tucking in kiddos, and if I am lucky getting a shower. Not to mention, this is the busiest time of the year….let’s be honest here little guy, who is actually doing ALL the work…who is actually shopping, wrapping, and on top of all of that I am supposed to move you around every night! Move yourself!!  All you do is sit on your butt while I am the one doing all the work and you get all the recognition and praise!! And the children are supposed to behave thanks to you…what about me? I am always here watching!!! (Sorry, there might be a little animosity).
  3. Jealousy is starting to enter the relationship thanks to social media! I see you everywhere now! It is like there is an unwritten competition to see who can come up with the cleverest hiding spot, back story, etc. it is like a theatrical production and I just can’t take the pressure!! Nor do I have the time for all of that!
  4. You are edging God out! We have a huge problem when my children are more focused on your arrival than the birth of Jesus. I have clearly gone wrong somewhere. We need to refocus the reason for this beautiful season!! The birth of our Savior, not a plastic doll on a shelf!!
  5. Lastly, based upon Dr. Phil’s definition we are on our way to a toxic relationship….I am exhibiting at least 4 out of 8 of these;

Warning signs that a friendship has become toxic:

  • You feel bad about yourself after contact (YES…I feel horrible)
  • Your friend is unsupportive and even demanding (It’s like Dr. Phil is reading my mind!)
  • Your friend is a taker (Check!)
  • The relationship is draining, unsatisfying and stifling (It so is!)
  • There is unequal footing; You have no voice (Well….maybe not this one)
  • Your friend is unreliable (Not like I can depend on you to do anything other than take all the credit for all my hard work!)
  • There is a pattern of criticism (I just don’t like the way you look at me…after 5 years that expression is just creepy! I feel like you are criticizing me with that expression. Okay, so maybe this one doesn’t really apply)
  • There is little or no respect (That little elf has no respect for Moms….taking all the credit while moms are the ones doing everything….sure the kids will behave for the Elf but what about their Mothers? Hello, mom is always watching!! )

Thus it is with a deep sadness (not really) that I have come to the conclusion that we need to part ways. It’s not you, it’s me, and it’s what I am going through as I mature in my role as a mom.  I need to do what is best for the children. And sure, it will be hard on them the next couple Christmases but they will eventually move on.  Besides they will be more preoccupied with something else, the most important birthday ever!! You don’t have to go back to the North Pole but you do have to leave here…oh, and if the children ask, I told them you are working for a much bigger boss than Santa….that you are heading to a monastery.