How has the Advent season been progressing for you? I have to say, that it has been creating such excitement at our house, but it has also had the hidden blessing of assisting the children to develop valuable character traits. During this month while waiting for Christmas Day, not only have they been learning about the true meaning of Christmas, they have also been developing patience, self control, kindness, co-operation, forgiveness and joyfulness (in all circumstances, not just when things are going they way they desire).
Elvey, our little Elf on the Shelf, has been a loved addition of the house again and the bigger kids are really being patient with the younger children helping them to find the elf. To be truthful, I feel like last year Elvey was put in a few more creative places. I just seem to be scrambling this year, jumping out of bed when I hear the children are up and rushing him off to a new shelf. Yesterday I heard the children were coming so I jumped out of bed and tried to untie Elvey from the tinsel he was bungee jumping from. The triplets walked out and I kind of chucked the Elf behind my shoulder and was standing there playing with the tinsel, as you do. In the true spirit of the toddler, they stood there staring, asked me 20 times what I was doing, then ran off. I managed to untie the elf and as they ran back stuff him under my nightie (poor elf) and run him to the Christmas tree and shove him up the top. Now the people who think the elf is creepy (he’s not that bad, is he?) probably are also accusing him of looking up the angel’s skirts.
The kids also have been enjoying the store bought Advent Calendars. I know, people are getting excited about non-chocolate advent traditions, and as you know, we are doing this also. However, I think one little chocolate is really not that harmful. The calendars are cheap, and it’s just a little bit of fun. Turns out it’s teaching self control and patience also. Mind you, two of my children have failed miserably with the self control, so now they are learning a lesson of consequences for your actions as they watch the other children eat a chocolate each day while they miss out because of their bulk consumption.
My favourite tradition has been the Advent books. Admitedly, it took me a little while to get going with this. I hurriedly had wrapped the first book, chucked it under the tree and explained to the children that I would be getting one child each day to unwrap a book in the lead up to Christmas. Because there was only one book, and three 3 year olds had limited understanding about what I had explained, it wasn’t a happy moment around the Christmas tree. My 5 year old who is also learning that it is more blessed to give then to receive and my 8 year old managed better self control then the others, but I think he was a little disappointed he didn’t open the present on the same day as well. The Accountant watched the proceedings, (it looked like we were exploring the book of Lamentations from the Bible rather than the Gospels), shook his head saying he didn’t know why I had these hair brained ideas and walked off.
It then took a few more days before I got all the presents wrapped, and I chose not to do any more books until there was a pile and I could show the children that there was a label telling which day it was to be opened and which child would open it. Nevertheless, we had to repeat the process of protests and wailing and then we watched the next child open the book and we read it together. We then repeated the wailing and lamenting when the children discovered they had to wait for another day until they opened the next present. All the same, there were two children who unwrapped some books half an hour later when I was no longer policing the tree. (There was a common denominator with the Advent thief).
However, thanks to persistence and lots of explaining, they now mostly sit happily together and watch each other unwrap. I have been very clear that the books belong to the family, not the individual. The child is wrapping it for one another. I’m also strict that everyone sits together and watches it get unwrapped and listens to the story. It is a valuable lesson in being happy for one another and I think (and hope!) that it is actually setting really good groundwork for not being selfish on Christmas morning also.
The stories have also been wonderful in building the Christmas spirit. I’m very excited to let you know that five of those stories could be yours! Scholastic Australia is generously giving away five Christmas book packs. Each selection will include