Our Elf on the Shelf, Ruby, showed up a couple years ago. I was never really keen on the idea, in fact, I down right dreaded it. I’m not sure what provoked me to buy the dang thing, other than the self imposed pressure to “be a good mom”. Each year Ruby showed up later, and later. She’d make her appearance as late as possible, showing up just before Christmas.
This year, we’ve tackled some big things in our home. We’ve turned not yelling into a daily practice. We’re practicing mindfulness (on and off the cushion). We’re more focused on kindness instead of good/bad/appropriate. I decided having a creepy elf watching my kiddo, judging her behavior as good or bad and then “reporting back” wasn’t really sticking with the theme we’ve been creating this year, so I decided to do something a little different. I started looking for an alternative to the elf on a shelf.
I stumbled across a couple updates on Facebook. One was the idea of “kindness fairies”. We’re BIG on fairies around here… in fact (in and around the horses) the kiddo’s room is decorated in fairies. The other was a blog post on Random Acts of Christmas Kindness and the idea was born.
Our three kindness fairies showed up with a note from Santa, explaining that he’d seen Hanna’s kind and generous spirit blossom this year, and decided to send Ruby somewhere else, and instead, send his favorite kindness fairies to us to celebrate the holiday season. He also mentioned they’d be sharing a random act of kindness with her each day. He talked about how random acts of kindness are gifts given from your heart, that make you feel good, even if you give the gift anonymously, you don’t get credit, or even a thank you. The good feeling comes from the giving itself.
Our fairies showed up the day of her school Christmas program, and she didn’t notice them until we were walking out the door. As she read the letter from Santa her face exploded in brilliance. A smile lit up her face. She was thrilled. She took the letter to show her friends. They came that day with the random act of giving a hug. I saw her give hugs to at least 5 people that night. Which brought smiles to all of their faces.
Each day she races downstairs to see where the fairies are, and what act of kindness she can take into the world with her that day.
I’ve been playing along as well… and taking the random acts of kindness into my world too. When you’re looking for opportunities to be kind the world looks different. People react differently to you when you treat them kindly. It really got me thinking… what if kindness became our “daily practice”? What if we went into the world with an active practice of kindness. Some guy cuts us off in traffic, respond with kindness. The mom in the grocery store with only a few items? Let her go first. A Culligan guy comes to your house and acts like he owns the place and you don’t exist… kindness. Opportunities to practice abound. There will not be a day, or probably an hour where you won’t have the option to choose your reaction. The question is… how can you choose kindness?
When you go into the world looking for ways to be kind, the whole world changes. You change. The people around you change. (Well, maybe they don’t, but your reaction to them changes, which changes how you feel, and that’s what really matters!).
It all started with a creepy elf… and it’s morphed into a daily practice. I guess I should thank Ruby, and my overactive obsession with being “a good mom“. We’ve landed in a place that feels good, and warm, and welcoming, and, well, kind.
Are you looking for an elf on the shelf alternative? What about kindness fairies? Share your thoughts in the comments below… I look forward to reading them.