Children are so full of wonder at Christmastime. There is something truly magical about the season.
But weeks and weeks before Christmas, it starts. Ads. Magazines. Store displays. They all point towards the commercialism of Christmas. Santa. Elves. Elaborate gift ideas. They all sway our focus away from where it should be.
How can we keep our focus on Jesus?
How can we keep Christ in Christmas?
For years, I've been seeing ads and stories about that crazy Elf on the Shelf. Can I tell you something? That elf creeps me out. He makes me want to have nothing to do with Christmas. Sure, families have fun with him, but my understanding is that he's a bad elf who gets in trouble every night and he's going to rat you out to Santa if you're bad.
That's not the message or image of Christmas that I want my boys to have.
Don't get me wrong, I love traditions. Even gift-giving. There's a place for those things. God gave Jesus, the ultimate gift, and I don't believe that it's inappropriate for us to give gifts to each other or our kids as a part of celebrating Jesus.
Melk, the Christmas Monkey
May I introduce you to The Hornors? Katie is a friend of mine. She and her husband, and their kids, are missionaries in Mexico. They are celebrating Christmas with a different visitor. (He's way better than that creepy elf.) His name is Melk.
In the tradition of celebrating the days of Advent, Melk the Christmas Monkey can visit your kids each day in preparation for Christmas. He's not looking for the wrong things your kids do. He's not getting himself into trouble. He's fun. He's silly. But more importantly, he's bringing daily messages about who God is.
The point is to prepare our kids' hearts for Christmas. The point is to focus on who God is–to focus on the special gift that he sent in Jesus.
Katie sent me a copy of Melk so I could introduce my kids to him. (Ok, honestly, Melk at our house was really our good ol' George the Curious Monkey in disguise, but my kids were cool with George bringing Melk's messages. Katie has some great recommendations if I want to purchase a new monkey, including this monkey and this monkey.)
We went through the lesson on how God is creative. They learned how snowflakes are all unique and that our great Creator made us unique. They made their own paper snowflakes to reinforce the concept visually.
Each day starts with Melk being discovered doing something silly. In a similar manner to the Elf on the Shelf, you set up Melk with his activity and his postcard to be discovered by the kids. Then you go through the lesson with your kids. Each lesson teaches an attribute of God. Scripture is given, craft ideas are supplied, and there are extras that you can do or read. There are optional journaling pages for your kids to add pictures or write about Melk's daily adventures. You can also add on some really cute coloring pages.
Material Disclosure: I received an early copy of Melk, the Christmas Monkey to preview so I could share our honest thoughts with you.