Though Jesus is not our reason for the season, that doesn't mean I'm not trying to inject our secular Christmas celebrations with meaning above "What do you want for Christmas?"
Thanks to our current budgetary constraints, there's no risk of our four-year-old being spoiled. And, lucky for us, she's admirably modest in her wishes — and has never once even asked me for a toy she's seen in Target or whatever, which is kind of amazing. But (BUT!) I find that on the days she gets the most, she can be the most ungrateful.
So in addition to her cheap Target-brand chocolate advent calendar, I made her a toilet paper roll cabin calendar, an idea I stole from this much better version I first saw on Pinterest — originally from Morning Creativity:
My version looks much more DIY thanks to the fact we were out of printer ink (are we not always out of printer ink?).
But instead of treats or small gifts, I stuffed each tube with Christmas jokes only a four-year-old would love (e.g.: What do you get if you cross mistletoe and a duck? A Christmas quacker!"), good deeds and "Christmas dares" (a concept I totally made up but don't tell my kid, OK?).
Of course she was much more excited to open the window on her cheap chocolate calendar yesterday, but she was also game for her first Christmas Dare, which was "Give someone (other than mama or daddy) a nice compliment." She made me email my friend Briony, who was visiting from Toronto and we had seen earlier in the day, to tell her she looked pretty in her furry coat. I hope a little bit each day, I can help her see that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is not only singing loudly for all to hear, but also to make someone's day in some small way.
A few more examples of the Christmas Dares and good deeds I hid behind each brown paper number:
• Chose one grandparent to call and sing a Christmas carol to.
• Here's $5. Now go buy a small gift for someone else.
• Here are two lollipops, one for you and one for someone in our neighborhood. It's your choice, now go deliver it!
• Here's some paper and an envelope. Write a short letter to anyone you like, and then ask mama to mail it for you.
Do you have any good deeds or Christmas Dares that would be appropriate for a small child?