The holidays are absolutely my favorite time of the year. I allow for more treats than the other eleven months, coordinate the family to wear as much red as possible, and find myself always humming or singing the jolliest of tunes.

As a kid I would start my gift list in July. But after the Black Friday debacle of 2009 (if you’ve experienced Black Friday you know what I mean), the husband and I regained focus on the Season of Giving.

Every family has their own holiday traditions and we find ourselves always adding to ours. My favorites include skipping Black Friday/Cyber Monday altogether along with donating holiday leftovers and cookies to first responders.

This year we decided to add to the tradition with a little guy named Elfie. He looks just like your average plush Elf on a Shelf but is missing a nose thanks to a fur baby.

Usually people put their elven friends in silly or messy predicaments, explaining him/her keeping an eye on the children for Santa. While I love a laugh and a little Christmas magic, our family decided to turn Elfie into a visitor who encourages us to give during the holidays.

Every morning we find Elfie in a new place with a note. Sometimes he compliments our little one on acts of kindness such as sharing. Other times he leaves ideas on how we can give to others.

A New Tradition: Our Kindness Elf

So far this season he has suggested we give to Toy for Tots, send a care package to deployed soldiers, and donate some of our gently used clothes and toys to those in need.

As our son grows we hope this tradition helps him see that this time of the year is indeed magical, joyful, and wonderful, not because of the gifts we may receive but because of the opportunities we have to give.

The goal is that Elfie jump starts our giving and the little one learn the joy of generosity and kindness can last year long. In fact, I’m contemplating having our little visitor remind us once a month of a service opportunity. It goes without saying that we will seek daily to be as kind and generous as we can, not because of some plush doll or because it is December, but because we all strive to create the world in which we want to live.

I must admit, this idea was not my own. I recently read about The Kindness Elves as everyone began dusting off their Elf on a Shelf.

Even if you are into Elf on a Shelf I challenge you to consider having your elf suggest at least one service opportunity this year. It’s too easy to get all wrapped up (see what I did there?) in the joy of receiving. You can see the effects it has had on our society with the selfies that flood social media accounts. Why not start this year with a focus on what really matters?

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Brittany Cole

Not your average Southern Belle, Brittany is a native of Georgia living in South Florida. She attended Auburn University (WAR EAGLE!) where she received her Bachelors in Political Science and has a Masters in International Relations from The University of Oklahoma. Brittany has many passions in life, in addition to being a wife and mom. She loves all kitchen-based activities, traveling, being outdoors, reading, yoga, and dancing. When you cannot otherwise find her, check the local farmers market – she’s the one buying obscene amounts of kale and turnips. Britt lives every day by the Maya Angelou quote, “Do the best until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better”. Her mission in life is to raise a family of compassionate and empathetic humans while doing the best she can to make the world a more tolerant, beautiful place.