A few years ago, genius here was on the lookout for new ideas that would eventually become family traditions. You see, the only true traditions I have to pass down are 1) fighting while trimming the tree, 2) fighting while decorating the house, and 3) fighting while opening presents. You can see why I am in need...
Well, a cute little advent calendar caught my eye, and I thought, "Gee, here's a fun and easy way to make Christmas last an entire month!" Before you even ask, no, I had not been smoking crack.
Oh, the boys were quite pleased. At first. Very quickly the little knick-knacks weren't cutting it and I was forced to up the ante. Then, the age old problem of the tooth fairy arose. You know what I am talking about... The tooth fairy is caught without change and has to leave a $5 under the pillow and life for the fairy becomes increasingly more expensive. Well, in my tardiness to secure the daily gift, I had to grab something quick (and coincidentally, valuable). There was no turning back at that point. Expectations rise exponentially at my house.
To make matters worse (See? I can acknowledge my own role in the nightmare), I thought it would be "neat" to write a little poem with a cute little piece of clip art, telling the boys where to find their hidden treasures. The tiny doors on the calendar are way too small to hide the actual surprise. By about day 3, I had run out of words that rhyme with advent, surprise, elf, suicide... you get the idea.
I think it was somewhere around day 15 or 16 last year, that in a screaming fit of rage, I packed the whole thing up and vowed to my children that they would never see the advent calendar again. Oh, don't worry, this has a happy ending. For them. They did the whole groveling and apology bit, and not 24 hours later, I had caved and had two inappropriately expensive something-or-others waiting for them. With a poem. With a cute little piece of jolly Christmas clip art on it.
So, here I am... A year older and maybe just a bit wiser. The boys came home from swim practice and immediately started elbowing each other out of the way to get to the calendar. Moody Teen got there first, and read the clue to look in the freezer. Sweet Pre-teen found the envelope behind the ice cream, tore it open and began to read:
For the first day of Advent, there won't be a gift
Instead, you must each find someone else's spirits to lift.
When I told them they each had $25 to donate to a good cause that they had to pick, they almost fell to the floor. But, in their defense, they regrouped rather quickly and were good sports. Youngest is deciding between a Food Bank and an Animal Rescue. Oldest chose Breast Cancer, so he can freely say breast. Repeatedly.