Saturday, November 30, 2013

Elves and Gingerbread Men

I'll state right here: I can't see myself ever doing Elf on a Shelf. Not because I think it's wrong to motivate children by having Santa spy on them, not because I think everyone should just chill out--basically, I'm too unorganized, and I know I'll be lucky if I can even get an advent calendar going and actually stick to it.

But as I was looking at someone's Elf on a Shelf post the other day, I was reminded of a Christmas tradition that we had in my family growing up. Like Elf on a Shelf, we had a little friend who would mysteriously appear at the scene of random occurrences; he was seemingly inanimate, and yet managed to do so much.

We had Gracious George, the Gingerbread Man.

Our George was made of dark brown felt, with rickrack and buttons for decoration. He had a pocket on his back that was just big enough to fit a tootsie roll or a quarter. And Gracious George always heralded good things.

It started with a Family Home Evening lesson on a Monday night. We would tell the story of Gracious George, using flannel board pictures, I believe. It was similar to the regular story of the Gingerbread man, but before he would run from anyone, he would do an act of service for them--for example, he cleaned the old woman's dishes, and weeded the old man's garden. Things like that. He ran and ran, shouting the classic epithet,

Run, run, run, as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, 
I'm Gracious George the Gingerbread Man! 

Okay, so maybe it differed a little from the classic.

Either way, he ran until he came to . . . our house! There he continued his acts of service, but always trying not to be caught. 

Mom and dad would then take George and put everything away, but sometime that night or the next day, he would appear on a newly-folded bed, or bearing a treat, or on a straightened bookshelf. And then it would be the recipient's turn to give an act of service, leaving Gracious George as the only sign of who had done it.

We loved being ultra-sneaky and seeing what kinds of acts of service we could pull off under each others' noses. And the best part? My mom didn't have to clean up any messes George made, or figure out something new to do with him every day. She left that to us--unless it was her turn, of course.

Remembering Gracious George brought back a lot of nostalgia, and I realized that it's about time for me to start some of these types of Christmas  traditions with my girls. I'm thinking that next year will be the year that Gracious George puts in his first appearance at our house.

What's your favorite Christmas tradition? What age do you remember these  traditions being most important to you?


  1. I LOVE that! I like that so much better than Elf on a Shelf. I so totally might steal that idea in the next few years.

    1. If you google it, you can even find some of the the pictures we used for our flannel board story. It was such a fun tradition!

  2. That does sound like a great idea! It's fun for the kids, and it teaches them to serve each other. Obviously, I'm don't have kids yet, but for some reason this year it's hitting me hard that I need to teach them. Love this idea.

    1. I'm glad you like it. I learned so much from the various women around me as I grew up. I'm sure you'll be given lots of opportunities to teach, and I'm sure you'll do an amazing job!


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