“Sarah” showed up yesterday morning on our front step. The girls went out to feed the cats, and there she was … the cutest little elf we’ve ever seen. Tucked under her arm was a note. Here’s what it said:

Hello Mackenzie & Madilyn,
Merry Christmas!
Santa sent me from the North Pole to be your family’s elf. But I’m not a regular “elf on the shelf”. Those elves are for children that need help being good. They also make messes at night and do other naughty things. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have fun too, but you know what’s even better? Having fun doing kind things for other people. Doing kind things for others helps us feel so wonderful.
I’m a special KINDNESS ELF. I’m here to help spread Christmas cheer and love … and I know you can help me. I have quite a few things planned for you in the next little while.
Each night while you sleep, I will try to think of ways you can spread kindness. Sometimes I can be silly and sometimes I’m sweet. You’ll have to find me each morning (because I freeze when daytime comes). You can squeeze me and kindly touch me, but don’t pick me up or I’ll get LOST and confused!
I can’t wait to report to Santa all the good you have done this Christmas season! Thanks for making the world a better place!
Oh, and one other thing … I need your help with a name. I met a lot of great people along the way from the North Pole, but I didn’t have a name to introduce myself with. Can you please help me? I know you’ll pick a great name!

The Kindness Elf

The name “Sarah” immediately popped out of Big M’s mouth as we finished reading the letter over our morning “tea.” And so, we have Sarah, the Kindness Elf, as a special guest in our home for the next few weeks as we prepare for Jesus’ birthday … yes, that is why we celebrate Christmas in our home.
Now, I am not about to take credit for this idea. I have certainly seen it circulating around. I knew I would NEVER have a naughty, silly, mess-making elf in my house, but THIS idea I loved. This idea is not “work” … instead, this idea is a gentle reminder for all of us of how we want to live our lives … at this time of the year and always. I can easily accomplish all of the things that I already have planned for this holiday season, and make them just a bit more special as we take instructions from Sarah (which children are always more inclined to do). Big M told me just this morning, “Mommy, if Sarah asks us to do something, we have to do it!”
The beauty of all of this is that I already noticed Big M catch herself a few times yesterday, reminding herself that Sarah, the Kindness Elf, would be proud of her for choosing the “kind” route when it comes to responding to an adult’s request or her sister’s annoying nuances.
I truly hope Big M (and Little M) learn many, many ways, big and small, of extending kindness towards others. I hope to highlight how others must feel as we are kind to them, and I hope to highlight how good we feel as we share our love with others. 
Yesterday, after nap, Sarah left us a note asking Big M to prepare and wrap a present for Grandpa … so we did. This morning, Big M discovered Sarah in her closet next to the dress she planned to wear to church. Sarah’s note today commended Big M and Little M for their kindness efforts so far. She asks them to prepare a treat to share with others at church today, and to ensure they say “hi” or “good morning” to everyone in attendance. Such a small, simple act that we would probably do anyway, but this brings a great deal of importance to the act, and shows the girls how meaningful these little things can be … not just because Mom says so, but because a special elf from the North Pole says so.
* TOO CUTE NOT TO SHARE * Little M selected “rockets” as her treat to share. Big M thought maybe if Little M was bringing candy, she should bring something healthier, so she selected watermelon (in a fancy china-cabinet dish, of course).
In the near future, Sarah will probably ask us to start preparing our gifts for the special “teachers” and “caregivers” in our life. Some days, Sarah may request something much “smaller” like asking the daycare ladies how they can help with the younger children or greeting Mommy with a special hug and kiss at pick up time. We will ensure we schedule a visit to the food bank. Sarah will likely ask for toys and books to be sorted through and donated accordingly. She will prompt us to prepare our Christmas cards for family and friends and to think of ways we can share the holiday spirit of giving with our school and daycare friends. We will round up money to purchase a calf for the United Church’s Gifts with Vision program, and we will visit the elderly at the nursing home. Sarah will even take the earth into consideration and ask us to take in our recycling to SARCAN. Her demands will be endless I am sure, but we will ALL learn a great deal. 
And on December 24, Sarah will head back to the North Pole. She will acknowledge the girls for their kindness efforts and encourage them to continue such efforts into the new year. Our hearts will be full, and we can rest assured that we are living the true intention of this special season.

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