Last year when Kelly of Kelly's Korner hosted a show us your life on Holiday traditions, Suzanne over at Our Life at 31-derful posted about Mensch On The Mantle. Since Dave is Jewish, and I am Christian, we have decided to focus on the religious meaning of Christmas, rather than the secular Santa and elves to differentiate as to why Jews don't celebrate it. So much as I loved the fun of the Elf on the Shelf, that wasn't going to work for us. (I actually think it's a little creepy that the Elf is supposedly watching our kids' behaviour and reporting back to Santa but I like the idea of setting up fun scenarios.) So when I read about the Mensch on the Mantle, I fell in love. I love that the idea is teaching kids how to be mensches, since a mensch is a real life good person.
So this year we introduced our mensches. I looked high and low for a doll to use as our mensch and couldn't find anything. Eventually I remembered my Raggedy Anne and Harry Potter marionettes which my parents gave me for Christmas quite a few years ago. Since it was the day before Chanukah started, and we were desperate, Dave agreed they would make wonderful mensches. Especially since Sam and Rachel don't know them as storybook characters yet!
Dave and I figured out what we would be doing for each night of Chanukah and then Dave came up with scenarios of what our mensches would be doing. On the first night of Chanukah we lit candles and the kids each got one present. Our mensches taught the kids that "A Mensch keeps traditions" and were waiting to light the Chanukah candles when the kids came downstairs that morning.
Unfortunately, at this point, Rachel kept pointing to the mensches and saying, "Scary. Mensch scary." Oh boy.
On the second night we were involved in the final Fall evening of LOGOS, my church's mid-week program. It always ends with a labyrinth so our mensches were going through the labyrinth and the phrase was "A mensch listens."the third night we hosted my church small group for a Chanukah party so our mensches were enjoying tea (a meal) together and our phrase was "A mensch enjoys being with others."
the fifth night we celebrated Chanukah with Dave's family so our mensches were looking at photo albums. Our phrase was "A mensch appreciates their family."
the seventh night we read Chanukah stories and drank hot chocolate. Our mensches were reading Chanukah books and our phrase was "A mensch remembers stories."
According to Dave, on Thursday morning after Chanukah was done, Rachel woke up and asked, "Mensches doing Daddy?" so I think she got used to them :)
Since this is the first year we did this, and our kids are quite young, we kept things pretty simple. We didn't write any of our phrases down and it was mostly about the fun of it. Sam, especially, enjoyed looking in each room until he found the mensches.
For next year we want to find some "mensches" which are a little more realistic and a little less floppy! Rachel was always a little concerned about the mensches and liked them best when they were "sleeping" during the day, as opposed to playing with her toys!
This is definitely a holiday tradition which I am very much looking forward to continuing in the coming years.