We opened all 25 of the doors on our Good Deed Advent Calendar. On the whole I would say it was a success. After a few days of good deed doing, I realized I needed to know what we did and (more importantly) how the kids felt about their deeds.
I started a chart on the school white board where they rated each deed on a 1-5 star scale and told me if hey would do it again next year. I'm not sure they both totally understood the five-star rating system, but at least I have a guideline for next year.
All-in-all they accomplished 23 good deeds. Some were harder than others and some got limited participation from one kid or the other. Brother-Bug hated giving soup out to hungry people but Sister-Bug loved it – running up to anyone she saw and offering soup is just her kind of social adventure. Brother- Bug and I stayed near our soup table, uncomfortable with feeling “on-the-spot”.
One of their favorites was planning and executing a holiday movie party. They made a plan, and invitations. They chose a movie. Their friends were invited to come and bring $5. We served cookies and popcorn and cocoa and watched The Muppets Christmas Carol. They donated all the $5 to feeding hungry families in our community. It was a great way to have a super fun good deed. Likewise, going out for cocoa and paying for the person in line behind us also rated really high…because they got some cocoa out of the deal.
Their least favorite was a litter walk. It was cold and rainy and they hated it, despite the enthusiastic participation of 3 grandparents. But they did it and we had a great talk about how doing something good isn't always fun, convenient, and including cocoa. Sometimes it's hard or uncomfortable and we do it anyway. Papa-Bug and I did some extra good deeds out and about that we would have done anyway. They came at a perfect time to be an object lesson – we do good when it is needed, we rise to help our communities needs.
The project inspired many good conversations about what we have and how blessed we are. My favorite conversation was with Brother-Bug; one good deed was sending holiday cards to soldiers. Brother-Bug hated the idea initially. Papa-Bug and I are vocally critical of most the military actions we know about, debating cause and effect and alternatives. Brother-Bug picked up on that and wondered why we would send cards if we didn't like the military. We got to have a wonderful talk about the difference between a person and an organization/institution.
On the 25th there was a letter from the Fairies, thanking the kids for all their good works and telling them that the Christmas good deed was to enjoy their day and be kind to their family. I don't know if it really made a. Big difference, but we had the most mellow Christmas our family has yet experienced, with a minimum of meltdowns and lots of good play together.
Logistically… There was a really big snow here in the first week of January. I ended up at homework th the kids for a solid week. It was just fine with with me, but many of the good deeds that week had need on us being out and about to spread joy and cheer. Next year I plan on having a better stock of deeds I can change up if life, weather, and circumstance get in the way. I need a good go-to if we can't get to the deed that day, as well as a better stock of deeds easily done from home. I also need a clear list of what is in the calendar on each day, and what extras I have, so I can know what is going on and be better prepared.
The Hershey Kisses worked better than I expected. They didn't fit in the little doors, so I set them out in the morning before the kids were up. Because I am busy and often forgetful, this resulted in a random rewards pattern (which science tells us is the best for brain development) that was very exciting for the kids. Would there be chocolate or not!?
At the end, Brother-Bug gave the Good Deeds 4 stars and he wouldn't do it again if he could choose. Sister-Bug gave it 5 stars and is sad that it is over. For me, it was great. I saw a lot of growing and learning happening in the context of a fun holiday activity. We are already brainstorming more ideas to go into the calendar next year.