Yesterday was Sunday, and Number 4 had a cross country meet about forty-five minutes away from our house, and Number 5, 6, and 7 had to come watch. It was chilly and not especially exciting for them, and I so I promised them that we’d make popcorn and sit on the couch in our pajamas and watch a movie together when we got home.
“A CHRISTMAS MOVIE!!!” they all said.
(Even though it’s only November 13th and I love Thanksgiving, I’m already in Christmas mode and so are some of the kids.)
When it was movie time, we searched family Christmas movies on Netflix.
The kids picked a movie called The Christmas Project.
It was a low budget, cheesy movie that I was sure I was going to struggle to stay awake through.
But I was surprised, because I actually enjoyed it.
Let me tell you why.
There are two reasons.
First, the movie is about the Buckley family — two parents and four brothers. The four brothers are bullied by a neighbor, and their mom (who is pregnant with baby number 5) gets involved by choosing the bully’s family to “elf” that year during the Christmas season.
I had never heard of being “elfed” before.
I did a little Googling last night after the kids went to bed and found quite a bit of stuff about being elfed.
In a nutshell, you leave a surprise/treat/gift on someone’s doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then run!
It’s an anonymous thing, where you are learning about kindness and giving as a family.
Oh, I LOVE THIS!!!
I love this because I believe 100% that kindness is the root of all good things, and I believe kindness needs to be taught (and modeled) to our kids.
So I love the movie for that.
And then I also love the movie and this concept of elfing and giving to people because I feel like my kids are still kind of heavy on the get me this and the I want that thing, not only at Christmas time but in general.
And for me personally, I believe that thinking about other people and bringing joy to someone else helps snap a person out of anger and depression and that tendency to forget to practice gratitude that we can all fall prey to.
So I talked about this with Number 5, 6, and 7 last night when the movie was finished. I said to them, “I think we should do that this year. I’d really like to elf someone.”
And they were so excited by the prospect of that!
If you Google “elfing someone” you’ll find all sorts of printables like these. And if you follow the directions to a T, what you do is leave something on the front doorstep of whoever you decide to elf. Along with the surprise, you leave a sign for them to hang in their window explaining that they’ve been elfed, along with directions for them to do the same thing to someone else.
I don’t know that we will go that route.
Sure, it would be great for the person you are elfing to decide to pay it forward and keep the spirit of giving going.
But I don’t really want to make someone feel guilted into doing this sort of thing. I’d much rather see it happen by choice and not because they got a piece of paper saying “You’ve been elfed, now pick two people and go elf them.”
In the Christmas Project, the family repeatedly elfed the family of the bully. Night after night, they left something thoughtful on their front doorstep, rang the doorbell, and then hid in the bushes, watching the reaction of the bully and his sisters (which was, predictably, extremely grateful and nothing like how he acted during the day to the Buckley brothers).
I think we will go more this route.
In fact, what I’d like to do is have each of the kids pick a family to elf. And I’d like them to think about what would make that family happy. It doesn’t have to be anything major. We are not in a financial position to spend lots of money on gifts for people.
But that’s not the point of elfing someone. Kindness doesn’t cost anything. It’s free.
So if each of the kids picks a family, that will be five families we will elf. Plus one for me. So six families.
Six nights where we practice kindness and focus on giving rather than receiving.
These will actually be great activities to put into our Christmas Advent Calendar.
I’ll feel really successful if, just like in the movie, I can get them to elf someone they don’t particularly get along with.
But I suspect they will all choose their friends, and that’s perfectly fine and a great place to start.
As I write this, I think to myself, wouldn’t it be great if we did this all year long. If we said, It’s time to spread some kindness! Who should we surprise this month? (or week)
We may get to that point.
But we’ll start right now this year with Christmas.
If you think this might be something you’d like to do with your family, watching this (admittedly somewhat cheesy) movie is a great way to introduce the concept.
I can’t wait to do this with my kids!