Tuesday, December 06, 2011


I love the idea of an advent calendar. The kids are already obsessively counting the days til Christmas, so the calendar just gives us a method for masking that compulsion and legitimizing our...er...their holiday madness.

One of the many things I don't like about the store-bought calendars, though, is that they're all chock-full of treats, mostly chocolates, and not even good chocolates at that.

Numbered stickers applied and
good deeds taped to the back of ornaments
But it's not just the unnecessary over-abundance of processed sugar that gets me on this one. Oh, noooooo...that would be too easy.  It's the idea of giving treats to children who already really have everything they could possibly want or need.

It's the fact that the holiday season, a time during which we're supposed to be emphasizing and re-instilling the concepts of gratitude and generosity and giving, is being counted down to the biggest children's gimme-gimme-gimme day of the whole friggin' year by a calendar that only reinforces that sense of entitlement and unearned rewards on a DAILY basis.  And it's just beyond my understanding. Or acceptance.

Our final finished product! 

And yes, I do realize there are other advent calendars out there, but while we do teach our children about the various religions and the true meaning of Christmas, and that the underlying meaning of the word "advent" in this instance is actually about the coming of Christ, I don't really wanna be lectured and preached to every single morning through the month of December by a self-righteous calendar.  (I much prefer to be bullied and guilted into a false sense of happiness and contentment by the overcommercialization of spirituality provided by the magical ratio of the number of light bulbs on my house to the number of bows under my tree.)

The garland and ornaments was quicker and
easier for me than the traditional cardboard calendar,
but that's always an option, too
So, anyway...thanks to a friend who posted about a good deeds advent calendar on Facebook, I immediately became obsessed with incorporating this new tradition into our holiday events.  I say immediately because it was December 1st that it occurred to me -- with only 4 hours before I'd have to pick the monsters up from school.

So with zero time and just under $30 between Michael's and The Dollar Store, here's what I did:

  • half-priced garland for $8
  • plastic ornaments at 4-for-a-dollar
  • ornament hooks
  • numbered stickers
One of Saia's "notes to a sibling" :)
Then I searched all over the internet for 25 good deed ideas that kids could do without making it feel like a chore, but also not so easy that they wouldn't require any effort at all.  It was a surprisingly difficult task.

But then I found some fantastic stuff!  Some great examples were, "write 3 kind notes to your sibling and hide them around the house in places they'll find them."  And "bring in a neighbor's waste bins" (which, of course, you have to then time with the garbage collection days). But some were as simple as "hold the door open for everyone behind you today" or "smile and say hello to every single person you pass by today." (For a full list of the 25 good deeds I selected for this year's calendar, CLICK HERE.)

Completed good deeds are piled in a bowl
So far, every morning they've remembered about the calendar and asked to see what that day's good deed was going to be without my having to mention it.  

And no, it hasn't suddenly made the whole world a better place.  

And it hasn't even made our own little household tantrum-free, yelling-free, or tattling-free.

But...I'm hopeful. That a little tiny bit of the message, a realization that they have to contribute to and appreciate the world around them, that there's more to the season than just getting, and that random acts of kindness can and should be incorporated pretty easily into your everyday life with little to no effort sinks in.

And sticks.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

What a fantastic idea!!
We've been meaning to do an Advent calendar as well, but also don't like the candy aspect.
I think this could really work with our 4 year old, and maybe modified a little for the 2 year old.
You are so very wise.