Back in November, I was worried my biggest girl had lost what Christmas was all about. Her obsession with how many presents she’d get was overwhelming, and I was starting to dread the day itself in case her “haul” didn’t live up to her expectations. All the little things that make the magic of Christmas – the family traditions and activities – were being forgotten as she went through her list of requests over and over again. It was draining.
Along with their chocolate advent calendars I made the girls a Kindness Advent, with a string of envelopes holding 24 different “kindness challenges”. This has proven to be the answer to balancing out some of the materialism of Christmas and re-introducing some of the big ideas around what makes the season so special.
We’re not a religious family and I’m certainly no Gold Star Pinterest mum, but having an opportunity to talk about being kind every day has gone a long way to cancelling out all the adverts for toys and stuff. (That and watching countless Christmas films hammering home the same message – The Grinch was particularly useful!)
There’s one piece of festive kindness in particular that stands out from all the rest. Freya wrote a letter and drew a picture for the postman to say thank you for delivering all the cards. She stuck it onto the front door and, when she came home from school it had gone. A couple of days passed and she received her own card in the post. “Dear Freya”, it read. “Thank you for my letter and drawing. I’ve stuck it on the fridge in my kitchen. Have a lovely Christmas, from Postman Colin”. She was thrilled and it showed her that being kind IS appreciated and doesn’t go unnoticed.
A week or so later we were given a cake won by an elderly neighbour in a raffle. The neighbour’s husband died a couple of years ago and she lives alone. She’d been looking for a family to give the cake to, because she couldn’t eat it all on her own. Freya wrote her a letter to say thank you for the cake and to invite her round for mulled wine and mince pies. Later that night Freya got a card back from the neighbour to say thank you for the letter, and to say she couldn’t come for mulled wine but that she had put the letter on her wall because it was “the nicest one she’d received”. Another little glowing moment for Freya, and she went to sleep that night clutching her card.
The final piece of festive kindness that stands out this month was from my grumpy husband himself. If you’ve seen any of my videos before you’ll know Simon hates the limelight and has a natural tendency to be a bit of a grump. But underneath the brusque exterior he’s a big softie and so, when asked to step in and be Father Christmas at the school party, he couldn’t turn it down.
It’s literally the last thing he wanted to do and he couldn’t have been further out of his comfort zone. He did it to help me out (it was my job to book Santa as I’m on the PTFA – and our regular Santa was already busy) and to make the party that bit more special for all the younger kids at the school who get to see Father Christmas. He was nervous about it and moaned about it for a while beforehand, but when it came to the day he took on the role with acting brilliance, saying “I’m very tired because I’ve travelled all the day from the North Pole!”
I’m signing off for Christmas now, but I wanted to mark these little moments and share them with you as, for me, they’re what Christmas is all about. And if you can’t be a bit sentimental and soft at Christmas when can you? I’ll be filming snippets of the next couple of days to share on YouTube but for now, I’m off to sing Christmas songs and soak up every second of magic that is Christmas with a three and seven year old.