I have been discontented with the way we've celebrated Christmas for several years now.
At first I couldn't quite put my finger on what bothered me.
The constant creeping commercialism that seems to show itself earlier and earlier into the Fall months is partially to blame.
And, yes the paper was ripped off and ribbon was shredded all too soon. Sometimes there would be a hummph of displeasure over not getting the anticipated gift, or worse the long silence staring into the gift box that communicates more than words would express.
But beyond that, there was just a general dissatisfaction on my part over what the "holidays" has become in our culture. I knew I wanted more for my children then gorging on gifts after suffering through the "Christmas story" in the Bible beforehand. I wanted more than sick tummies from eating too many sweets from bloated stockings. I just wanted more.
It helped when I introduced an advent called The Jesse Tree. I felt like it really brought some clarity to what we were really celebrating. Each night before the children got to open up their chocolate advent calendars from Trader Joe's, we would read about one of Jesus' ancestors or one of the symbols of Christmas and how he/she/it paved or pointed the way for Christ to be born.
I felt like it truly "let every heart prepare Him room," and that was good.
But I feel like it is still a struggle for us to keep Christ and the giving spirit of Christmas front and center.
That's why I loved reading another one of Ann Voskamp's blogs about wanting to start a "Christmas Revolution" and her beautiful words about creating an "upside down Christmas."
And then today, I saw a link posted on Facebook about a blog written about Kindness Elves: An Alternative Elf on the Shelf Tradition. Intrigued, I clicked through and was amazed.
Someone else felt what I had been feeling!
While I am not opposed to the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon, it always bothered me a bit that he was so mischievous and destructive. I do like the whimsy and creativity of it, just not the mess he leaves behind. I didn't really want to leave that impression on my kids, because part of me knows that some of them would probably try react some of his escapades.
But Kindness Elves?
This I could get behind!
Unfortunately, you cannot buy the super cute elves pictured in the blog online. They are only sold in the UK in their version of the Dollar Store. I found a few possibilities on Etsy. But since I was headed to Target later, I thought I'd wait and see what I found. And, find something I did!
There are three different little animal elves, and I chose my two favorite. Ever the bargain hunter, the 20% off sale Target was having made them $4 each instead of $5, making them a steal of a deal compared to the $29.95 price for an official Elf on the Shelf doll. And then there is his clothing and accessories to think about...which stresses me out since I can't hardly ever think about accessorizing myself every day.
And so today, (albeit five days late since we were out of the country until yesterday), I am launching our new holiday tradition.
Self on the Shelf.
Yep. We're going to choose to put up our own wants, needs and desires on the shelf and look around at the world in front of us and find something to give to others instead.
How can we show love to each other, our neighbors, our families, our community, our church and beyond?
We're going to find out.
I'm going to borrow Anna's great idea, but instead of Kindness Elves, I'm going to call ours The Self on the Shelf Elves....or also what's maybe a bit easier to say, The Giving Elves.
I'm off to make a list of "giving things" for the next 20 days. Anyone else want to join me?
Follow our journey here for additional posts and follow each day giving elf tableau on my Facebook page.
#shelfontheshelf #givingelves #upsidedownchristmas