Thanksgiving week is typically my favorite time of the year. The kids are home, it's a very long weekend, sports are generally on hiatus and we spend a lot of casual time together. How that week goes down in my head is often much different than reality.
Ideally: We decorate the house while dancing around with Christmas music in the background while sipping hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows.
Reality: "Why do I have to do that part, I HATE doing the garland." "Just so you know mom, we are leaving the lights up outside ALL YEAR LONG. No one will care."
Ideally: We gather on the couch all cuddled together watching the first of the heartwarming Christmas movies.
Reality: "SHE'S TOUCHING ME!"
Ideally: We all cook and bake together together in the kitchen and work like little elves.
Reality: "Seriously mom, what's wrong with ordering pizza three nights in a row?"
Early Saturday morning I had a rare moment of silence. I realized we needed to reset our values and go back to the basics of just being kind to one another. I decided to put my 11 year old to work and told her to make five advent calendars - one for each kid. She just needed to make them so I could write under a flap for each day.
There was a full 30 minutes where everyone was home that night and we had a family meeting. "These are advent calendars. There is something written underneath each number and it's a task you need to complete by the end of the day. You will open up one every day until Christmas."
Ideally: My concept was met with squeals of delight.
Reality: 6-year-old: "There aren't any toys under the numbers?" 11-year-old: "There isn't any candy under the numbers?" 13-year-old: "Is it just different things we have to clean every day?" 15-year-old: "I really don't want to clean every day this month. I have a lot of homework." 17-year-old with every ounce of sarcasm she could muster: "Hm, Fun."
Sunday morning they woke up and everyone opened their numbers at various times. They all had different tasks ahead of them and the first one terrified my 6-year-old. "Say something kind to a stranger." Even though he said he didn't want to talk to a stranger, later that day he went to a birthday party and when he came home, he didn't talk about the go-karting or the treats served. Instead, he grinned ear to ear and said he told the party coordinator that they were doing a great job.
Some of the other tasks scattered throughout the calendar: "Send four nice texts to people that wouldn't expect it", "Write an anonymous kind note to each of your siblings", "Be nice to someone you don't like", "Smile all day today, even when you don't feel like it", "Thank three of your teachers with sincerity."
We're only a couple days into our Random Acts of Christmas, but so far I'd say it's a success. My kids may not change the world this month, but they may just learn that being kind both inside and outside the house, is a much better way to live.
Or in reality, the whole experiment might be a total fail and I'll have something to write about...
Thank you for reading and if you'd like to follow our adventure, join us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail: