Apparently, all the kids had one. And of course they did. My son’s little friends were showing up at school flush with stories of their elves who were making mischief all throughout their homes and leaving their enchanting wee footprints in a trail of pixie dust.
I had heard about the elf through the mom network, but I hoped that word would not leak to my kids. This new-fangled imp shows up in December — because goodness knows, there is not already enough going on during that month – and he messes up the house. So, he is sort of like a stealth dog … that is made in China. But I did not understand the point of an elf whose primary appeal was that he would trash our den. I mean — who could tell?
What truly boggled my mind was that apparently some mother out there had kids who were not doing their jobs, so she actually invented a creature to wreak havoc in her household. But my four kids were certainly up to that task and were managing the havoc wreaking quite handily, so we did not need to invite someone else in to do that for us. What I really wanted (still want!) is an elf that sneaks into the house at the end of the Christmas season and packs up all the decorations. In fact, he can come here right now and mail my Christmas cards … and make dinner while he is at it. Why doesn’t someone invent an elf that does that?
But I gave into childhood innocence, and one traffic-clogged pre-Christmas Saturday I drove deep into the wilds of the neighboring county, tracking down the last remaining elf within a 200-mile radius, alternately thinking, “I am such a good mother!” and “What in the world am I doing?”
I returned home with a rather tame and un-ambitious elf who basically sits around. When he first came to our home, he would move from place to place during the magical hours of after-they’ve-gone-to-bed, to be found the next morning sitting on a package of red and green M&Ms, silently announcing with his plastic smile: I’ve brought you a gift! Sometimes he would appear with a practical present — a reindeer nightlight or even (seriously) a tube of toothpaste. There was charm in his magical mystery movement and in what treats or forbidden sweets he managed to sneak into the house.
Years have passed, and although my sons are now teens, they do maintain a soft spot for our docile elf because he typically brings them things that their mother will not. Elf does not get around like he used to (he is getting older too, you know), but every so often he will hide under the dining room table next to a tin of peppermint cookies, or snuggle amongst the garland with a box of chocolates.
He still moves slyly about the house with his impish grin, jaunty pose and implied statements. He can be found on the decorated mantle (“Look! Your mother decorated again this year — appreciate that!”), or on a plate of cookies (“All the rest are for the cookie exchange, but you can eat these five.”)
And this year, confident that I can put his elfin proclamations to better use, I have decided to try something new. I am going to sit him on the vacuum cleaner (“Can you find the ON switch?”), on the wad of dirty clothes on the floor of my boys’ room (“Pick it up, already!”) and in the refrigerator (“How about you guys making dinner tonight?”)
Maybe he can still work some magic.
Robin Jean Marie is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody, at peace with her elf. She shares “Traditions and Tidbits from the Continent to the States” in her blog, www.BringingEuropeHome.com.