Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A message for the Class of 2024

It's all been said already.  I've read a lot of it. Seems like everyone has a blog and opinion on the events that happened in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.  As always, the tragedy has been politicized, causing emotionally-charged arguments over gun control and mental health issues.  I don't want to talk about that.

What I want to talk about is the future.  In eleven years, the Class of 2024 will graduate from high school.  My first born will be a member of that group of kids.  They will look at the future with stars in their eyes as they prepare for adulthood, whether it means college, traveling abroad, working to buy that dream car, whatever.  But may this class of newly christened adults never forget that there are 20 less of them in this world to reach for those dreams.  Let them imagine that day when they were in first grade and it was a normal Friday when they did their spelling test "for real" and completed their timed addition test and maybe got to hop up to the next level.  Let them imagine eating cheese pizza in the cafeteria, or PBJ from home.  Let them imagine saying the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the birthdays on the intercom.  Let them remember practicing Reader's Theater for the upcoming class Christmas party.  Let them imagine PE. Recess. Their classmates. Their precious teachers and administrators.

Then let them remember the day when their parents chose to tell them about what happened to those 20 kids and 7 teachers that day in December 2012.  It may be several years down the road when they first hear about it.  But let them hear about it.  May their hearts feel something when they hear. Let them know they are safe, and protected. And loved.  And when they walk the graduation stage, let them remember. There should be 20 more of them in this world. Let them draw inspiration from the lives that were lost.  Let them live more intentionally in honor of those 20.  Let them be thankful for the love and courage of the 7.

Let us all remember.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

My Elfing Opinion

I'm going to be honest.  I'm not a fan of the Elf on the Shelf.  At all. I thought it was just because I'm somewhat of a Scrooge when it comes to silly holiday traditions.  I do see the fun in it, the magical Christmasy magical-ness to it all. I can even see why some people depend on that little Elf to keep their kids in line when it comes down to Naughty-list crunch time.  But, after having expressed my opinion to a small group of friends, have discovered I'm not alone in my general disdain for the whole idea.  I don't judge or think less of those families who are into it. In fact, my Facebook newsfeed is full of some really creative ideas, and we all know I applaud creativity! :)  But it is just not for us.  Here's why:

1. My children are "older" -- ages 4 and 6 -- and my oldest is on the verge of disbelief.  He's still pretty adamant that Santa is real, but the vigor with which he is holding on to his belief tells me he is trying VERY hard to believe. There is some doubt in there that he's trying to stamp out by his loud proclamations of belief.  Prolonging the charade about Santa by adding an Elf seems cruel to me when in just a few short years I'm going to have to tell him the truth about Saint Nicholas.  

2. The Truth about Saint Nicholas -- has nothing to do with elves or the North Pole, but with giving, and mercy, and love.  While Santa WAS a real person, I want to set up the things we tell them now about Santa that will translate easier to the REAL story about the REAL guy.  The fewer lies I have to talk my way out of, the better.

3.  Jesus-focused Alternatives -- I have recently found out about an alternative to the Elf that does tie Santa in with Jesus/Christianity.  It is called "My Secret Angel and Me." Instead of an elf, you get an angel, and she tells the Biblical Christmas story, reports back to Heaven, and doesn't disappear after Christmas is over. I'm not sold on that either, but it is an alternative choice.  I have also heard of "The Three Traveling Wise Men" but a google search came up short. Both of these focus less on Santa and more on Jesus. 

My family is doing a 24-day children's devotional called "A Meaningful Christmas."  This is a daily 2-3 minute verse, story, and discussion that walks us through Creation to the birth of Jesus and touches briefly on His sacrifice and why it is so important that Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior. (The physical earth-coming of Jesus began the process and prophecy of redemption for every human's soul. Therefore, we rejoice and remember and celebrate the circumstances by which God showed how much He loves us!!) There is an ornament for each day, and the kids love to touch, look at, and hang the ornament on our special small tree.  

Don't call me a total Scrooge (I do occasionally call myself one, so I guess you can too without hurting my feelings), because we DO Santa, we just also DO Jesus even more in our house. I don't intend to start any controversy, and I love all my Elf-Shelf-ing friends dearly.  But I don't intend to sacrifice any of my precious marshmellows in the Elf's fishing hole, or toss powdered sugar around to make a "snow storm" that I get to clean up later!  OR have kids waking up at o'dark thirty to find out what Mr. Elf has done THIS time. 

But y'all have fun with that!