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Advent Calendar Kindness
"How about, 'Don't fart on your brothers?'" said 5-year-old Nolan.
"Well, it's definitely kind to not fart on your brothers, but I want you guys to take this seriously," I said over my three sons' laughter. "I'd like you to come up with 12 ways you can be kind to each other for the Advent calendar we're making."
I'd already explained what an Advent calendar is — a countdown until the celebration of Christmas. Advent calendars began in 19th century Germany, with simple chalk marks on the door each evening leading up to Christmas Eve. Later, families would light a candle or display a small religious picture each night. Modern Advent calendars feature both secular and religious Christmas themes with chocolate treats tucked inside little numbered compartments.
Excited about daily doses of chocolate, the boys were anxious to make the Advent calendar. But I had other plans for the project. While I'm not against candy on special occasions, I wanted the boys to enjoy an even sweeter treat — daily messages of kindness and caring. On the final day, Christmas Eve, they'd find a little key and a clue hinting at a hidden cache of treats. Grateful that chocolate would still be involved, the boys signed on.
We made a green felt Christmas tree background onto which I glued 24 red felt circular pockets numbered from 1 to 24 with glittery fabric paint. I'm no crafty goddess, so the final result was, shall we say, "rustic," but it did the trick. Next, I cut out red paper rectangles and asked the boys to each write down 12 kind things they would do. Each day, the boys would remove one of the notes and follow its instructions, such as "Say one nice thing about each of your brothers."
Eight-year-old Jackson broke the ice by suggesting, "Hug your brothers." After the laughter from Nolan's no-farting-on-your-brothers proposal died down, he came up with "clean your brother's room" — a Christmas miracle in its own right.