Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elf on a Shelf: The Cheapskate, Grace Based Version

Last year, everyone one and their dog was posting pictures on Pinterest of this cute little project called Elf on a Shelf.  The idea comes from a book of the same title, with a storyline that goes something like this:  Santa has sent an elf to your house to see if you have been naughty or nice.  The elf himself is a bit naughty and likes to cause trouble at night while everyone is asleep.  The last part I loved; the first part about the elf watching your child's behavior, not so much.  Plus the book with an elf was like $30. 

So I opted to do my own version.  I bought an elf set off of Ebay (Hallmark ornaments actually) for less than $10.  Then I wrote my own letter from Santa, explaining why the elves had arrived at our house.  In our letter, Santa explains how he doesn't really have a naughty and nice list but that he wants to be like Jesus and give gifts to people who don't deserve them.  He asks my kids to do their best to love others and to love Jesus but to remember that they are going to make mistakes and that they can ask Jesus to forgive them.  The letter goes on to say that the elves, Pete and Oswald, have trouble understanding about grace and making good choices so Santa would like my kids to teach the elves about those two things.  Santa says he will pick them up on the 24th, when he brings the kids their presents.  The catch is that the elves' magic only works at night and that touching the elves can make them lose their magic.  (We shored that one up when the elves had to take not one but two sick days due to little hands touching them.  The elves camped out on one of my primtive pillows with Kleenex blankets, cough drops, thermometers, and bandaids and wrote the kids a note saying how they were sick from people touching them and that Santa wanted to come get them but that they talked him out of it.)

For us, I was really unsure for the longest time how I wanted to approach the whole Santa thing as I don't want my kids to lose sight of the purpose of Christmas nor do I want to lie to my kids.  But then I saw an amazing letter a mom wrote to her kids who had outgrown Santa that explained how Santa was a way for her to teach her kids that believing in something, having faith in something is important.  The letter did a great job of explaining how God is not like Santa Claus but how believing in something we can't see is a good thing.  That letter was the encouragement I needed to step up my Santa efforts with my kids.

D and I have had a great time coming up with ideas for the elves.  So far they have left the kids a note written in dry erase marker on the bathroom mirror, had two sick days, brought powdered sugar doughnuts and made snow angels in the powdered sugar, hung off of the dining room chandelier, and tried to fight off the tooth fairy who came to claim Kenson's lost tooth (with the story of their valiant attempt to save Kenson's tooth told via a letter). 

Gotta love these little guys...

The elves' arrival-they broke out of the package before the kids could open it

Snow angels in the powdered sugar

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