Buster’s Back!


On December 1st our elf returned. Buster, our Elf on the Shelf, has been a faithful holiday visitor since 2008, when he arrived for the first time as a gift from my parents. He added to the magic of Gracie, Molly and Rusty’s believing years, as they awoke each morning in December and raced from the warmth of their beds to be the first to find Buster and laugh at his latest antics.


When Tyler and Ozzie joined our family through adoption, they too got into the tradition of the visiting elf. Ozzie embraced the magic immediately and fell in love with the Elf. Tyler took a bit longer to warm up to the idea of a magical toy elf that came to life and moved through the house at night. (I can’t say I blame him.) 🙂

But each year he embraces the tradition with a little more joyful anticipation and a little less anxiety.

This year Tyler is my last remaining believer, so the antics of the elf are really for his benefit. The other kids are now “Magic Makers” and help in creating the Christmas magic. Since Tyler is our last believer and since this could be his last year before the world steals that piece of childhood magic from him, I wanted to do something different to make this year with Buster more special and more meaningful.

We decided to have Buster lead us through our church’s worldwide initiative to spread the love of Christ this Christmas season through daily acts of service based on Christ’s example of love:

“Many of our memorable and enduring Christmas traditions include different kinds of lights—lights on trees, lights in and on our homes, candles on our tables. Indeed, light has significant meaning as we commemorate the humble birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the New Testament account, a new star arose and wise men followed the light “till it came and stood over where the young child was.”

In the Old World, Jesus taught, “I am the light of the world.” And in the New World, the Savior descended from the heavens and declared, “I am the light and the life of the world.” In both of these settings, the words used by the Lord to describe Himself were “the light.”

May we increasingly learn and more fully understand that Jesus Christ is the “light which shineth in darkness.” In every season of our lives, in all of the circumstances we may encounter, and in each challenge we may face, the Savior is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction, and engenders enduring peace and joy. May the beautiful lights of every Christmas season remind us of Him who is the source of all light.

As our Great Exemplar, the Lord lived a perfect life, ministering one by one in love and service. Like Him, we can exemplify and share His light and love with those around us.

This Christmas season I invite you to seek opportunities to “Light the World.” Beginning December 1 and continuing through Christmas Day, you can learn how to “light the way for others” by visiting mormon.org. ” – David A. Bednar

It had proven to be the most meaningful and impactful year with Buster yet. He arrived on December 1st in a superhero costume, sitting atop a globe with this letter by his side:


“Hi Guys!

I’m so glad to be back. I’ve sure missed you but I’ve been having a great time with my friends at the North Pole. We are very busy getting ready for Christmas Eve. Last year I caused A LOT of mischief, but this year I have a very important job to do and I hope you’ll help me. Will you help me make some Christmas magic? The world needs children just like you to show love and care for others.

You might be wondering why I am wearing a superhero costume this year. It is because this Christmas season we will be making KINDNESS our SUPERPOWER through daily challenges. Together we will #LIGHT THE WORLD through small acts of kindness and service to others. It will be a lot of fun, so put on your invisible superhero cape and make some Christmas magic for others!

Here are some ideas for making Christmas magic to get you started and then I will give you a special challenge each day I return from seeing Santa.”

  • Bake cookies to take to a shelter.
  • Collect toys to donate.
  • Share with a friend.
  • Hold the door open for others.
  • Draw a Christmas card for a soldier overseas.
  • Select a toy for Toys for Tots.
  • Smile at a Stranger.
  • Put coins in the Salvation Army Kettle.
  • Make a new friend.

Tyler took to the new focus immediately and I could tell he felt a little less anxious knowing Buster would be too busy serving others this Christmas season to be wandering the house pulling pranks.

The idea to combine two beloved traditions into one experience was nothing short of God’s leading. And it has been an awesome success. The kids, especially Tyler, have immersed themselves wholeheartedly into the Light the World challenge thanks to Buster’s daily reminders and service challenges. Here are some of the ways he has encouraged us to be more Christ-like this Christmas season:


The kids were encouraged to write a note of love and appreciation to their Dad.


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The kids were challenged to reach out to someone who could use a friend instead of judgement.

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The kids were encouraged to bless the life of a child by purchasing and delivering toys for Toys for Tots.

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By watching “Mr. Kruger’s Christmas” we considered those in our community we could extend a hand of love to during this Christmas season.

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Buster encouraged us to reach out and serve someone who wasn’t well, either physically or spiritually.




Buster suggested we strengthen our friendship with our neighbors and make/ deliver cookies to people in our neighborhood..

On this day Buster challenged us to perform 12 random acts of service for the people in our own home and leave stars with our names marking the acts of kindness we performed for each other:


How will you #Light the World this Christmas season?

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