Merry Christmas! Below is a free gift from me to you. This long-distance grandparenting activity will have the grandchildren in giggles and it might make the grandparents chuckle a bit too. I hope you get to spend some video-visiting time with your family this season. This one is super simple and super easy to do!
Phineas Meets Santa Activity
[Full instructions below the Phineas Letter]
If you and your grandchildren haven’t met Phineas yet you can insert the following explainer paragraph into the front of the letter:
[My name is Phineas, I’m a mouse with no tail, but many tales to tell. I do ramble on at times, but that’s just because I have so much to say.
I lost my tail, back when the first lightning bolt ever to happen struck me. Yes, it was a rear attack. I woke with no tail, a terrible headache, and the ability to communicate with people.]
Each time your grandchildren hear a number mentioned in the letter they get to open a tiny present. The numbers are highlighted/bolded for your convenience, a sort of cheat sheet, make sure not to send the highlighted version to your grandchild.
Dear (Insert your grandchild’s name here)
I must tell you of a time long ago when I took a break from exploring, dinosaur hunting, and traveling. I went to visit my old friend Clem. Clem was a professor and very smart. We had many lovely conversations and got along very well. He even fancied himself a poet. Clem had a large family of nine children, ranging in age from infant to about thirteen years old at the time of my visit to his home.
It just happened that my visit was at Christmas time, I do love Christmas time, it’s my absolute favorite time of year. When I arrived at Clem’s home I found that the older five children were out of school, the younger four of course were out as they didn’t attend school. The house was full of fun and games and lots of laughter. There were also some wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen. His wife was an excellent cook!
Clem wrote a poem about that Christmas Eve, his poem was very clever, but my version is more truthful. Below is my version of Clem’s poem.
He wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas, I titled my story – An adventure with Santa Claus – I’m not a poet, I’m more of a storyteller.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, except one mouse.
Honestly, he knew I was still up and having a snack, also I heard a few giggles coming from the nursery too.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
The house was decorated so very lovely, and was warm and cozy. There were twelve stockings hung by the chimney. The children had insisted I hang one of my own, so I obliged just to join in the festivities.
Everyone was anxiously wondering what Santa would bring them.
But, those kids were not asleep, I can’t imagine he didn’t know that.
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
His wife was tending to the baby, who hadn’t settled in for the night yet.
Clem was a bit grumpy, and seemed to infer that any noise making would incur his wrath.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The noise outside was quite loud. It sounded like a train had landed in the front garden. I was sure there was a misstep of some kind that happened. Clem angrily got up, promptly stubbed his toe, and shouted a few things I won’t repeat here.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
I ran to the living room window. The moon was shining very brightly and one could see the whole scene out there. Yes, there was a sleigh and eight reindeer. They were not miniature, all eight of them, were very large, and really quite beautiful. Santa managed to get things under control quickly, so the damage was minimal to the sleigh. The tree in Clem’s front garden, well, that had to be taken down.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
After Santa got the sleigh and reindeer in check,
they took off again, and made it to the roof.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
What happened next was a complete shocker. It sounded like a herd of buffalo landed on the roof, you could hear the rafters groaning under the weight of it all. Before we knew what to expect Santa bounded out the chimney. Clem’s descriptions of him were close, but I’m not sure he would have appreciated the bowl full of jelly comment.
Also, even though Santa didn’t speak to Clem, he did speak to me.
When he appeared suddenly out of the chimney I squeaked and shouted, “Great gobs of blue cheese! What the heck!”
He answered by saying, “Oh, you must be Phineas. I’ve heard about you, but I didn’t think you were real.”
I responded with, “I’ve often heard of you as well, and had my questions about your validity too.”
We had a bit of a chuckle and became fast friends. Santa and I talked for a while, then he invited me to come with him to visit his home. Well, of course, I did. I’ll tell you about that another time, but suffice it to say it was one of my favorite adventures.
Toodles and Merry Christmas
As you can surmise, you will need twelve tiny gifts for your grandchild, or grandchildren, to open when they hear the numbers. I used small Christmas candy coins, made tiny books, and ornaments to fill my tiny gift boxes with. You can of course use whatever you wish, and make them whatever size you want them to be. Our personal likes, dislikes, and budgets usually play into this part. Group the tiny gifts together in a folder, bag, or box your grandchildren can reach into.
List of things you’ll need for this activity:
The Phineas letter – copy and paste the letter into whatever word processing software you have. Remember to put your grandchild’s name at the beginning of the letter, ad in decorative page boarders and clipart to make it a visual feast.
The twelve tiny gifts – wrapped in whatever way you wish. This could simply be a package of assorted candies, whatever you want to share with your grandchildren.
An envelope for Phineas’ letter – it should be a bit fancy or decorative, that’s just Phineas’ way
Once you have your activity together remember to write a personal letter or Christmas card to each grandchild from you.
A Visit from St. Nicholas was written by Clement Clarke Moore. You can do your own research or go to the website linked below to get more information on him and his world-famous poem.
Below are pictures of what I prepared for my own grandchildren. Hope this helps!