Last year’s Scavenger Hunt
The kids were on the verge of cabin fever last night. Tyson came in from drama club hungry and full of post-improv energy. The babies (T.J. and Trinity) just finished their screen time and as usual, once the screen goes off and their minds begin turning back on, they have a glazed-over, confused look about them. ‘What do we do now that the TV is turned off?’ they seem to silently asked to each other. Tyson rummaged in the fridge for something to eat and I gauged the climate. I knew in about five minutes the post-T.V. stupor will dissipate and they will begin causing mischief. 

I could: 

A: put them to work on their messy rooms 
B: let them play outside to expend some of that budding mischievous energy that would otherwise have fueled a game of wrestling resulting in injury and angry words. 

I chose B. We grabbed our coats, gloves, and helmets for a little pre-dinner bike ride. 

Now, lest you think I’m some supermom with instincts and patience abounding, please know that this MOMENT of clarity came straight from God. More often than not, the wrestling ensues, the daughter is wounded, the oldest is chastised, everyone stands in time out. 

No, God had a plan in heightening my mommy-sense for we were about 5 minutes into our bike ride when we had this conversation:

Scene: The cold air is whipping our faces as we ride on a residential street near our house. The kids are in a line on the side walk– Tyson leading, followed by T.J., with Trinity in the rear. I ride on the street keeping pace with T.J. and occasionally slowing down for Trinity. 

T.J.: Mom! How many more days until Christmas?

Me: not sure…maybe 32? We need to get through Thanksgiving first T.J. 

Trinity: Then after that is Christmas? 

Me: Not quite we have a month after that. 

Trinity: Are we still doing the pancakes? 

Me: Yes we are. 

All three: Yay! 

Tyson: Are you making us a puzzle to solve again? 

Me: Yes, I am. This year we have a whole new theme!

Tyson: Theme? 

Me: Yeah you remember how last year we were detectives solving a mystery? and the year before you were secret ninjas? 

Tyson: Yeah… 

Me: Well this year there’s a whole new theme? 

All three over each other: What is it? Tell us! Yay

Tyson: You always try to make Christmas fun for us!

This conversation on our bikes was exactly the encouragement I needed at this point in planning our family’s Christmas scavenger Hunt. 

Our first year’s hunt!

This is the fifth year we’re delivering pancake mix to our friends in the area on Christmas morning before opening our own gifts.  It started with a very similar conversation about Christmas with my kids.  I was disappointed that even at their young ages, (then 6, 3, and 2) our conversation kept coming back to presents and the hot new toys.  I wanted to begin teaching them that Christmas is about giving not receiving gifts, as we remember the extraordinary gift God gave us. It started small, we mixed pancake mix and delivered them to our friends Christmas morning as I read them a story I wrote about giving.  Every year the theme is different, we’ve done spies, ninjas, and Christmas angels, but the message is the same.   The stories emphasize that Christmas is about giving, that Christmas is about family and friends, and that Christmas is about God’s great love for us as demonstrated in the life of Christ.

So, today I want share a bit about this year’s hunt.  A few of my friends have asked me to share my planning process on my blog so that they can stay keep them in the loop of the hunt even though they cannot participate in it.  I’m not going to go into a ton of the logistics behind it because it’s pretty boring and all though I love to talk numbers, deadlines, and facts… I’ll stick to the fun stuff :).  Because at the end of the day, I’m doing all this so my kids can have fun that will hopefully transform their lives.

The first thing I’m excited to write about is our theme.  We’re doing a fairy tale/ medieval theme.  Complete with a dragon, magic, and costumes.  This past year my kids have gravitated towards fantasy.  More than once, T.J. has asked to watch any of the Narnia movies, Trinity has been more princessesy in her pretend play than usual, and Tyson has been designing and drawing dragons. So I’m sending them “quests” on scroll on the Christmas tree and through a bedtime story I’m writing for them, that will help them remember our three goals in godly giving.  

The quests are a new component this year solely because they are all older so they can get more from field trips and an ongoing Scavenger Hunt experience.  The three quests are…

1: Visit the office of Planusa in Warwick, RI and learn more about global need.  This will help my kids remember that God loves a secret giver, since we never get to meet the actual families we give to.

2: Throw a goodie bag filling party.  There is a homeless shelter in Worchester that needs goodie bags for a little boy’s birthday next month. The residents rarely have the resources to celebrate birthdays so this shelter relies on this website to organize birthday parties and goodie bags for the kids’ birthday.   This will remind my kids that God loves a cheerful giver, because we’re giving Christmas cheer and joy to kids in need.  

3: The third quest will be to take one of their presents under the tree and donate it to a children’s shelter in Boston and then serve with a local charity.  This will remind them that God loves a generous giver since I’m asking them to give of a Christmas gift they would have loved to have and give of their time to needy families.  

The final quest will be the actual Christmas morning (or maybe eve… still deciding which day) hunt. We will travel visit our friends’ houses delivering pancakes mix and receiving clues that will remind them the the lessons they’ve learned all month and direct them to the next house. This will give them one last chance for them to practice giving cheerfully and generously before they receive on Christmas.  

So here it is… my plan for my kids this Christmas.  This will be my first time actively documenting this tradition.  I hope you’ll follow along as I post each quest’s story and pictures of my kids on their quests. My hope for this series of posts is that you are inspired to make fun memories for your kids this Christmas.  You don’t have to get all elaborate like me… my kids (as you can tell from their mama) have a flair for the… ahem…dramatic.   But I firmly believe that motherhood should be fun.  Yes, it’s monotonous and yes it’s exhausting, but there should be moments of absolute joy.  I hope that God will use our fun times together as a vehicle to deliver godly reminders to my children.  

Check in later for our scavenger hunt playlist, Pintrest board, and pics of my kids receiving their first scroll from the King.

Thankful for this chance to have fun with my kids,