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Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Advent Calendar for a Cause

This year I decided to put a new twist on our Advent calendar.  In the past, we've simply had a cute little snowman that has number hanging on it.  We just changed the numbers every day, counting down until Christmas.  The boys have been too young to have a real concept of time, especially regarding something that's days and days away.  This year, the boys have a better grasp of time and numbers.

Also this year, Joe is working a gazillion hours.  Starting after Thanksgiving he's on 6 days a week at his job, usually 10-12 hours a day.  This last Monday (usually his day off), he got home after only 8 hours of work and was promptly contacted by the plumber he does part-time work for to see if he was available for a job.  He donned his grubby clothes and headed out, because he knows how much we need the income and he's grateful for the opportunity to earn it (thank you, Kotke!!).

It was about that time that an idea I had been mulling around took root.  I decided to make an advent calendar counting down to Christmas, partly because that's a standard tradition, and partly because that marks the day that Joe's work schedule will go back to "normal" (only 50 hours a week or so).  I had also seen some friends on Facebook were getting together to make some advent calendars of little boxes--I didn't get to join them for that craft but it furthered my idea.

I decided I would put little gifts inside boxes that the boys and I could bestow on Joe each day of the countdown toward Christmas.  It would be our way of showing him how much we appreciate his extra effort to provide for us and love us.  I felt it would also help teach the boys a better lesson about doing something for someone else, rather than getting a treat for themselves as we counted down the days.

I headed to the Dollar Tree and found exactly what I needed.  They were favor boxes and they came in packs of six for a dollar.  I thought about stacking them in a basket, but as it turned out, the basket I got was too small.  We have a lovely pyramid instead.

When I got home, I sat down with the boys and we brainstormed nice things that Daddy would appreciate.  We thought of things like foot rubs, back rubs, pizza for dinner, quiet time for naps, etc...  On the three days Joe actually has off out of the next 24, we thought of things we could all do together as a family, like play family games, watch a movie together and make ornaments together.

We printed off the ideas, cut them out, folded the favor boxes and put the ideas inside.  I wrote the corresponding countdown days on the outside of the boxes and we stacked them up in order. 

When Joe got home the boys were so excited to tell him about the calendar and have him choose the first box.  When he opened it up he was excited to see it was "Wash Feet" (he had already asked me when he got home if I would rub his legs).  I filled up a bowl with nice soapy water.  The boys got washcloths and set to soaking and washing Joe's feet.  Afterward, they both slathered his feet and legs with lotion and put clean warm socks on him.

He's pretty excited to see what the next 23 days hold and I'm excited that I found a way we can all show him how much we appreciate all the effort he's putting in everyday to take care of us.  

I think this idea could easily be converted to anyone's needs.  Even though Joe's extra efforts that culminate at Christmas are what inspired me to create this calender, I think it would be fun to do this every year and put different family members names in the boxes with things they would enjoy.  It would be a good way to continue the lesson that the best part of Christmas (and the example Jesus set for us) is the giving/serving (not receiving) and the joy it brings to do something kind for another. 


  1. I loved this idea when I heard about it and I know it made Joe feel really special. I love the blog! Really interesting to read and you do a great job with incorporating photos too.