Welcome Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays when I discuss issues related to the kids.
So, when the girls were very young, and we were living in Alpena, Michigan, there was no family nearby and the girls really craved the closeness of grandparents. So they quite literally adopted one of my older students, and also a member of the church we attended, to be their grandma. And it was a two-for-one deal because they got a grandpa out of it as well!
This lovely, very generous couple who became my children’s “grandparents,” and grandma became like a sister to me, attended dance recitals, music recitals, soccer games — everything the girls ever participated in! They were absolutely wonderful. And when a few years later, we moved to Florida, they moved to the state of Florida as well, about an hour away from us.
Their participation in the girls’ lives continued. They went to plays, recitals, to birthday parties. We went to Disney together. They continued to be an integral part of the girls’ lives. And it was through them that our family was introduced to: The Elf on the Shelf.
One Christmas, grandma arrived with an Elf on the Shelf and gifted it to the girls. The girls were in the second grade and didn’t quite know what to make out of this elf. When we explained that the elf would be found anywhere around the house keeping an eye on them, and then reporting back to Santa Claus, they were more than a little creeped out. And besides, the girls said, why does Santa Claus need an elf reporting back him? Santa Claus sees everything!
I left the elf out in the living room to see if maybe they would change their minds. They didn’t. The elf absolutely creeped them out. They refused to be in any room in which the elf was found. So I thought, “Well, this was a fail.” And of course, I didn’t want to hurt grandma’s feelings so I didn’t say anything. I put the elf back in its box and I put him away. I thought, “Well, this is just not a Christmas tradition for our family.”
Flash forward a few years. We find ourselves at one of my favorite stores, Kohl’s, and the girls see that Kohl’s will give a donation to a particular charity — I don’t remember which one at the time — if you purchased The Elf on the Shelf. So the girls insisted that I purchase two elves. I wanted to remind them that we already had one but, you know, they were in a charitable mood so I said okay. We purchased the two little elves.
When we got home, I mentioned to the girls that grandma had gotten them one of the elves and Andy, who is very generous at heart, said, “Well. I bet the elf went back to Kohl’s so that we could buy him and donate to charity.” She said “I bet this one,” her elf, “is the one that grandma got us.”
“Of course, you’re right! You must absolutely be right. The elf would want us to be generous and donate to charity,” I responded.
The elves’ travels became one of the most exciting things that Christmas. Emmi’s elf, well it’s a little more conservative, would find different spots throughout the house to peek at her. She would jump around all over the house, looking to see where her elf was. Andy’s elf was always a little more daring. Just like Andy, you could find this little elf hanging from a chandelier, the Christmas ornament, peeking behind a counter, hanging upside down. And so the entire family got into looking for the little elves, as they went back and forth to the North Pole reporting the girls’ behavior to Santa Claus. We soon learned that the elves disappear on Christmas Day. That doesn’t mean that they don’t come for a visit now and again — sometimes they reappear in the middle of June or August, May, April. You never know! They can show up at any time, to take a peek and see how the girls were behaving. We never minded. We always love these surprise visits and treated them as special celebrations.
One year, you’re not going to believe this, but the elves actually visited the girls both in Puerto Rico and Florida. We were all so surprised. But then again, we shouldn’t have been because the elves are Christmas magic. Last year, the elves were even nice enough to share their names with us. Emmi’s elf, Elfie, has a panache for princess’ clothing. I mean, she’s a very fashionable elf. Andy’s elf, Ellie, well, she’s more of a tomboy and she likes to show her ability to gender bend — you know, one day, she dresses like a boy, one day she dresses like a girl. And one thing is for certain, her acrobatics haven’t changed. She can still be found at the oddest places at the oddest times.
Last year, a new elves actually showed up in our homeschool classroom. There she was on Ella’s desk. It was amazing how these elves were multiplying. Always a surprise, the elves. The one thing that we could count on was that the elves always — ALWAYS — showed up on November first. Except it didn’t happen this year.
Why? One very important thing about the elves that you need to be aware of is that the elves are not supposed to be touched by human hands. And if you touch them, they lose their magic. That’s very problematic because sometimes, the elves fall off the shelf and a kid will pick him up, or the housekeeper moves him, it becomes a very traumatic experience for all concerned. But we quickly found out that if you sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on them — you know, the spice of Christmas — well, the magic returns and the elves are able to transport magically back and forth to the North Pole yet again.
Now last year, something horrific happened! Something unbelievable and quite shocking. Our housekeeper accidentally boxed the elves! And we didn’t discover this until June. Those poor elves had been boxed up for six months. And of course, since they were in the boxes, they were not able to transport. The girls were very, very concerned. Have the elves lost their magic? What was going to happen? Would they be returning this year? This was an unprecedented situation. It wasn’t like a small drop at or a small move, they had literally been boxed for six months. Maybe they were upset. Maybe we would not be forgive our family for accidentally boxing them.
Well I did my best. We put cinnamon and sugar on the elves and a little peppermint for a little extra magic because, let’s face it, peppermint during Christmas, they go together. And a little mistletoe, okay, it was a plastic mistletoe but it was mistletoe nevertheless, and we waited to see what would happen.
November came and the elves did not make their timely arrival. Emmi was very concerned. Maybe Elfie and Ellie had not forgiven us because the housekeeper had accidentally boxed them. Maybe they would not be returning this year! So we anxiously waited and waited and waited.
Now I have to tell you I was a little concerned myself. I missed the elves. I miss seeing them all around the house. But guess what? Today, they made their grand entrance! It was fabulous! Elfie, well she was crossing her legs on the piano next to the manger. She knows how much Emmi loves music. And Ellie, well Ellie was hanging out by the microwave holding a packet of ramen noodles. You see, Andy has been sick. And while I don’t normally allow her to have a lot of ramen, when she’s sick, she gets away with it a little more. So I think that Ellie knew about this so she was getting ready to prepare a bag of top ramen for Andy. Elves are like that, a little overindulgent, but can you really begrudge them? Not me. I’m always cool with anyone who’s willing to over-love my children. Okay, anyone who’s willing to love my children! Over-love them is a bonus.
But wonders of wonders! Guess what happened? This year Ellie and Elfie were joined by two more elves! I guess Santa knew that we had added two more kids to the family. So there was Honey — yup, that’s her name — in a sassy blue skirt hanging above Dora’s closet. She was so excited her big eyes opened so wide I thought they were going to fall out of their little sockets. And grandma’s elf also made an appearance. It turns out his name is Kareem. Yup, Kareem was there ready to watch Bug. Talk about a Christmas blessing! I’m going to have extra babysitting help for a while. And I always need it with Bug, boy can he keep us on our toes!
So you know what I think? I think that the elves were late in their arrival this year because, well, they had been in the box for a while so they had to make up for the lost time. They had to work extra this year, you know, they had to make sure that all those gifts for well-behaved girls were going to be ready. And they also had to train two new elves. I mean Honey and Kareem need to know the scoop. What kind of kids are Dora and Bug? Where can their bedrooms be found? What is the best place to hide and keep an eye on them? I think Elfie and Ellie had a lot of work to do before they arrived at our home.
I can’t help but think of grandma. She moved to Ecuador and we miss her a lot. We’re hoping she would come for a visit next year but she gave us such a great gift. She gave us a new family Christmas tradition, the crazy little elves that don’t spend a lot of time on the shelf. They spent a lot of time swinging around all over the house. And I have to be honest with you, I’m really looking forward to seeing where they’re going to appear next. What are they going to be holding next? Will they visit us in Florida during the Thanksgiving holiday? Will they come back with us to Puerto Rico, or will they return back to the North Pole? Have they seen enough of the girls’ behavior?
Personally, I think all the kids have been really good this year. Yeah, there’s been a few ups and downs — you know it’s kind of hard to be a preadolescent. But overall they’re very good girls. And now we have a very mischievous little boy but he’s also very kind-hearted and good.
So I don’t know how long the elves will stick around this year. I do hope they stick around till Christmas because we do love to see their antics. And it would be sad to see them go too early. Besides, the tradition has always been they leave on the 25th of December. I hope they don’t change that. Because when the elves leave, it feels like Christmas is over. And I’m not ready, I’m never ready when Christmas is over. Because it brings the magic of childhood into ur home. No, it doesn’t bring it, it amplifies it. And I truly enjoy the magical miracle that are my children. All four of them. I am so excited for this Christmas and what it will bring to our family. I know that like all the other Christmas, it will be a wonderful Christmas to remember.
May your family also enjoy wonderfully whimsical Christmas traditions.
The Elf on the Shelf: https://bit.ly/2sFstmZ