At the beginning of December, my daughter and I received a package from my folks. Inside this package was The Elf on The Shelf and his storybook. I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly clear on what this dude’s deal was, and I found myself slightly annoyed by his arrival. My first thought: so happy to have one more thing to remember to do before bed. Ugh.
For those of you who are not familiar, the story goes like this: Once everyone goes to bed, the elf flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa about what activities, good and bad, took place throughout that day. Before the family wakes up each morning, the elf flies back from the North Pole and hides. By hiding in a new spot each morning, the elf and the family play an on-going game of hide and seek.
The Elf on The Shelf “tradition” was invented in the 1960s and shared with the world around the mid 1980s when I was about the same age as my daughter is now. As a kid, we had two “knee hugger” elves at our house, appropriately called “The Jinglies,” because when you shook them they jingled. Nine years ago, when my daughter was born just a few days before Christmas, my mother brought The Jinglies to my home. It is unfortunate, but The Jinglies are no longer with us.
Maybe I was cranky to see our new elf arrive, because it reminded me of times in my childhood I had since forgotten. Maybe it was because, with all the things I have on my plate, I didn’t want to stress another. Maybe because The Jinglies are gone. Who knows? I will say this: It shouldn’t have made me upset at all, because this elf has provided my daughter, and myself especially, a renewed sense of the magic that this season brings.
As my little girl grows, it’s getting harder and harder to get her up in the morning. Since the elf arrived, she can’t wait to run downstairs and look for him! The expression on her face when she finds him is absolutely priceless. He has returned to our house and sat on picture frames high up on the wall, in a hanging ladle, and one morning last week, we found him riding on the back of a chicken that stands by our front door.
When I watch my daughter screech with laughter and beam with joy as soon as she spots him, it is the most childlike I have seen her in what feels like a long time. It is a reminder each morning that our children grow up quickly, and I need make sure she keeps her childlike innocence as long as is possible.
Her days of believing in Santa Claus will soon come to an end, which will mean we may only have this year enjoying the magic that the elf on the shelf has given her, and renewed in me. These are memories with her that I will treasure, that she will share with her sisters and hopefully someday with children of her own.
Far too often I catch myself “too busy” to stop and really enjoy the gifts in my life. So thanks to my Mom for sending a package that not only has made the last couple weeks incredibly fun for Sophia and I, it’s reminded me to slow down a bit and enjoy everything that is wondrous about being a mother and sharing in your child’s happiness.