I’m not typically one to get swept up into the saccharine sentimentality of the season. I tend to enjoy skewering the more Halmark moments. So when the Elf on the Shelf first entered our lives, I grumbled and groused and admitted him begrudgingly. The Elf, which I had no intention of ever mentioning to my children let alone buying, was foist upon me by my sister who had snapped up one for her own kids and was not going to allow mine to miss out on any of the fantasies or gimmicks or marketing ploys the holiday season had to offer.
At first I despised our elf. Fred was just one more responsibility for me, and I was having a hard enough time keeping up with Santa. What sadistic, perverse person came up with this goddamn Elf? And why did my sister have to ruin my life with this handless, footless, smug little creature? Then there were the rules. Oh, the rules, rules, rules, rules.
I could never remember any of them. He’s not supposed to be touched by human hands. Oh, Jesus Christ. He should aways sit in a new spot upon his return from the North Pole each night. I can’t even manage the Tooth Fairy, and that’s only one night of remembering. And new rules kept popping up all the time. All of the sudden after years of elf visitation I was informed the Elf was to make his annual appearance the day after Thanksgiving. When did this happen? Is he now the Black Friday Elf, too?
The rules seemed to be so haphazard and spontaneous that I often countered with my own. Like me, our elf was often fashionably late. Fred usually didn’t show until December. He was busy on the production line – sometimes pulling 14 hour shifts in Santa’s sweat shop – what, with all the toys and goodies he had to produce. He couldn’t visit until he met his quota.
Still, the instant the Thanksgiving meal concluded, talk immediately turned to Fred. “He’s coming tonight! Right, Mom? He’s coming from the North Pole tonight?”
Could we not make it through one holiday before rushing head-long into the next? The kids were jumping around the dining room table shouting and flailing and they hadn’t even gobbled up all the chocolate pudding pie yet.
“Oh, alright,” I snapped.
Over time, though, I did come to see Fred’s positive attributes. He provided the perfect threat to Crazy and The Kid. I guess when a iPod Touch or Nintendo Wii are on the line, my kids are actually capable of good behavior. And that’s mostly what I liked about Fred – until last week.
Late Sunday night on the weekend of Fred’s reappearance, Crazy had a lengthy chat with our elf. While Fred didn’t say much, I overheard the sweetest words to have ever passed a child’s lips. The child just happened to be my own. I wrote it all down right here in my piece that was published in the The Huffington Post.
Sometimes the season can be truly magical.
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