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My darling oldest daughter,
I never wanted an elf. I was very against the idea of the elf. I thought I didn’t need it in order to bribe you into good behavior for the month of December. I thought it was just going to add ONE MORE THING I had to do at the end of everyday – after dishes, lunches, getting you two to finally go to bed, laundry, writing, blog work, whatever else I was chasing after that particular day. I thought I could get away with just telling you that you’re good kids and don’t need an elf. I didn’t think you needed it. Isn’t this season magical enough what with Santa and flying reindeer? I got you an advent calendar, doesn’t that cover us on the daily Christmas cheer tasks?
But I was wrong. Oh girls, I was so wrong.
And you know I’m not good at admitting that.
You kept talking about how you don’t have an elf, and you really wanted one, and you wondered when Santa was going to send you one. Sure, you had Elfie at school, but I could tell that just wasn’t the same.
I consulted Facebook groups. ‘Do I HAVE to you guys?!’. The resounding answer was: it’s worth it. Not one person talked about how it helped their kids behavior better. Nearly everyone talked about how fun it is, how the joy their kids got from it was completely worth it. And how they only believe for so long, to enjoy it while it lasted.
I didn’t want to set up elaborate scenes or have him make yet another mess I’d have to clean up later. But… I thought, I can handle moving a small doll to different spots in my house. I guess.
I still wasn’t convinced but Christmas snuck closer and closer. The Christmas spirit had invaded our house, we’d bought piles of gifts for the giving tree in town, we’d attended multiple Christmas parties, you’d seen Santa a few times, and been singing Christmas carols for at least three months. Honey, you’d worn that god-awful so-ugly-I-can’t-believe-I-bought-it-for-you night gown for three weeks straight.
But something was still missing for me.
I was sitting in your bed, as I did every night, scrolling through my phone as she wiggled yourself to sleep. I pulled up the Amazon app, which I’d only reinstalled to be able to stay on top of the lightening deals for the holidays. I would delete it later, I swear.
I searched for Elf on the Shelf. We’re certainly not broke, but $30 dollars on something I really didn’t want seemed ridiculous. And I really didn’t need it rubbed in my face every time you would make me read the book.
But then I saw him. The book-less Elf dressed in camo. Now that is an elf that could fit in our family. Your dad said sure, and within moments he was on his way to our house.
This morning you ran downstairs to grab something for me. I will never forget your voice or your face when you came back up – I totally forgot the Elf was down there.
“Mom! Mom! I found something downstairs I really wanted!” you said as you burst back into my room as I got dressed for work.
You were so happy. So insanely happy and excited and couldn’t wait to show us and your sister. My heart about exploded.
You named him Ornament… probably because he was sitting on your advent calendar where we put up an ornament for each day. I think it’s a perfect name.
You ran into school and told everyone. I think you were that happiest girl in the world that morning, that Santa had sent you an elf, finally.
I might have felt like I was going against some belief I had, rooted in cynicism and wanting you to
just enjoy the holiday for what it was. I might have thought I was betraying myself, like when I got an iPhone after talking for years about how I hated all things Apple (except iPods. I’ve always been on the iPod train). But I was wrong.
And this right. The elf is right. You won’t stay little long. I already see it in the way you talk about the world, the stories you tell me, the way you worry about others. You won’t believe forever and my heart will break that day. But until then, I will look forward to Ornament’s appearance each year.
But he better not make a mess or that elf is out on his ass and sleeping in the barn.