A few years ago, on the eve of December One, when I was scrolling Facebook and saw post after post of hilarious Elf on the Shelf set-ups.
The Christmas Season hadn't even officially started, and I already felt like Scrooge.
My husband and I had decided several years ago not to do Santa (GASP! HORRORS!)- we earnestly wanted our family's Christmas to be about Jesus. Which was easy when our oldest was too young to know any different. But this year she was old enough to notice, and although I felt like we were doing the right thing for us as a family, I felt a little bummed that we weren't doing the magical thing.
I knew I wasn't the only one who struggled with how to "do Christmas." I had talked to so many friends who weren't sure how to navigate the holidays and also moms of older kids who wished they had done things differently.
What did I want my kids to "get" out of Christmas? The joy of giving and how it connects to Jesus' birth. He was born to give us life. I didn't want them to miss that amid all the toys that they would forget about by February.
But surely there was a way to focus on Christ, and it be super fun and magical too, right? I mean, I still want to have fun with my kids during Christmas! What does that look like without Santa and Elves on Shelves and leaving out carrots for the reindeer? I searched all over Pinterest that night and found nothing that spoke to me.
So, on that night before December 1st, I grabbed a dove ornament off my tree and plotted an entire fictional scenario that during the Christmas season, this dove flies around our community looking for people who need help, encouragement, or maybe just a little Christmas Magic. Each morning the dove would have a report on what it found, a way the kids could help, and all the supplies they would need.
I started the very next morning, and to my surprise, it was a hit! My oldest daughter (age 3) loved it. And each morning, she hopped out of bed to see what the Christmas Dove had to report for the day.
Some nights when I felt fun and creative, I would set up the dove and supplies in a crazy way (like I saw other moms doing with Elf on a Shelf). Other nights when I was too zonked, I counted it as a win just to set it all out on the breakfast table. Either way, the kids loved it and were excited about the activity for that day.
Each morning, we did the activity to help the people the Dove reported to us about. They were simple, inexpensive, intentional acts of kindness that my kids enjoyed and that opened the door for me to talk to them about things like giving, having compassion, being thankful, and most importantly, tying it all back to Jesus.
The most fun activities were sometimes the ones I was worried wouldn't work. Like candy cane bombing the hospital parking lot. Well, my kids LOVED it and meticulously placed a candy cane on every single car handle. Security asked if we had enough candy canes to do the overflow lot.
Other hits were taking doggie treats to the animal shelter. They let the kids play with the smaller dogs- so fun! And the best of all was giving Hershey bars to cashiers at Wal Mart. You would have thought we had given those workers big time cash money- they were all so excited and grinning from ear to ear. It felt like the whole store was buzzing with Christmas Spirit!
Christmas Dove is perfect for my family: we spent the month of December training our eyes to truly see the vulnerable around us and then taking the next step to do something about it. Christmas Eve is the best of all- there is no act of service (it's a busy day anyway!); rather, we talk about how all our good works can't save everybody. We can't save because we're not the Savior. And that's why Jesus was born (and that's why we celebrate).
Don't worry guys- my kids still got 8,000 gifts each. Their Christmas Morning was absolutely magical. They didn't miss out on a thing. I would argue they gained so much more.
When you purchase a Christmas Dove pack, you are getting everything you need:
-a Christmas Dove with a clip to attach to your tree for "resting" during the day
-parent guide with a daily breakdown of each day's activity
-card with each day's Report from the Dove
-Devotional book which will tie in with each day's activity.
And can I just say the Devotional is worth it just by itself! Each devotion is written by a seminary trained author, and it is beautifully illustrated by an amazing artist.
We hope the Christmas Dove helps families engage in joyful service and giving so that kids learn to see the vulnerable around them and act on making things better.
We also hope the Christmas Dove pack makes things easier on parents. No more late-night Pinterest searches! Everything you need is right here. We want to make this as easy as possible for you so that you can just enjoy doing the activities with your kids!
Please visit the Christmas Dove facebook page by clicking RIGHT HERE. It would be great if you would LIKE the Christmas Dove page. (and, hey, share it if you feel like it!) And find us on Instagram @christmas.dove.community.
No matter what, we hope you'll join us in teaching our kids that it's not just bout BEING good, but DOING good!