Dad On A Shelf

Safe to say that Christmas gets bigger and bigger every year. When I was growing up, it seemed simple, but now the season has been drastically extended and there are more and more traditions to keep up with as we all work to experience Christmas Magic.

The Elf On A Shelf, being an amazing example of this phenomenon. The only problem is everyone’s elf is a little different. I think we got a little lazy with our elf. I am pretty sure at one point when Nolin was little before Grace was born, we named our elf, but we never wrote it down. The next year our elf had a new name. By the following year, we had forgotten that one too.

Now we have resided to calling our elf “Elfie” or “Elf”…not too original.

Last year, Elfie needed a little assistance from Jenn’s parents to ensure he made it back to the North Pole during our trip to Virginia. Luckily my parents were able to provide an elf stand-in, so that Elfie did not need to make the journey with us.

However, this could have created a problem if we walked in after Christmas, and Elfie was magically sitting exactly where he had been when we walked out the door to the airport.

That’s where Jenn’s parents came in.

This year between the move and all the other chaos, we realized as everyone else’s elves were emerging from their hibernation, we had no idea where Elfie had been vacationing nor any way to contact him so that he could visit once again. Luckily, after a few days, I remembered last year’s top secret mission, and Elfie was located. Unfortunately, his hat was not.

This created a whole new level of complexity to Elfie’s midnight moves. This year, our elf decided that every night he would wear a different hat (because no one wants to host a balding elf).

As a side note, it may be good to really think plot lines like this through before over committing yourself at the start of an elf season…

While both Grace and Nolin were excited for his return and the idea of new objects adorning his head, Grace was pretty upset the first day that Elfie would be taking one of her socks back to the North Pole and she would no longer have it. Luckily Elfie isn’t a thief and returned the sock before moving on to other items like a cup or a lemon.

One day he even wore one of our Hamster Sniffy’s (again, apparently we are not super creative when it comes to naming things in our house) treats as a festive holiday hat.

All of that aside…this story is really about Christmas Magic and the desire to believe and my hope to hold on to that for as long as we can.

We have figured that this would probably be Nolin’s “last Christmas”, and Jenn and I had agreed that should Nolin ask (when Grace is not around), we would not lie to him. All I wanted though, was for this to happen after Christmas, and if I was the one explaining, to have enough advance notice to be able to write out a full (entirely too long and wordy) explanation so that I didn’t mess anything up.

Flash forward to last Sunday.

I am mowing the lawn, and Jenn and Grace are walking out to the car for Grace’s basketball game when Nolin approaches Jenn and asks “Is the elf real?”

She realized that this was a long conversation that you don’t just answer as you are pulling out of the driveway, however, dad could certainly answer his questions…record scratch.What?!

I quickly wondered, how I got picked. We all know what a disaster my on the fly Where do babies come from? conversation went. Realizing I would not have time to organize my thoughts and come up with something amazing, we sat on the garage floor as Nolin repeated his question.

Is the elf real?

With a bit of sigh and a deep breath, I answered honestly. No, buddy he is not real.

Then how does Santa know who has been naughty or nice?

OK, this was good, I am still working with some belief, so I replied that Santa has a lot of people who are able to help him determine who has been naughty or nice so that he doesn’t simply need to rely on one elf.

Then came the crusher…Well, if the elf isn’t real, is Christmas? Yep, this is exactly where I knew the conversation would be going. This time I wouldn’t have a bunch of fancy medical terms to thoroughly confuse him, makes us both uncomfortable, and eventually, make him realize that this was not a conversation he wanted to be having.

Once again, I sighed a bit, smiled and nervously replied, Christmas Magic is absolutely real.

As if simply speaking the words was enough…Christmas Magic immediately presented itself when our neighbor came running up at that moment to see if Nolin could play. The conversation ended with Nolin giving me a smile (as if to say thank you for being honest with me), and said Dad, I still love Christmas.

I felt, I had escaped that one fairly unscathed, but totally expected a deeper conversation that night when I was putting him to bed. This time with more forwarning, I started to prepare for a conversation that never happened.

The next morning as I was driving to school Nolin proudly announced from the backseat. Dad, I know you told me the elf isn’t real, but I still think he is because I have never seen him around the house after Christmas and I have never seen you or mommy moving him. Do you believe the elf is real?

I realized at this moment that I had already crafted the perfect response.

I believe Christmas magic is real.

Sometimes, less is more.

However, I wasn’t fully sure if Nolin was basically letting me know that he thinks I am completely untrustworthy or he was just letting me know, he isn’t quite ready to grow up yet.

I am banking (and hoping) on the later.

Grace, on the other hand…I think we have several more years with her. This year in some of my many missed evenings of helping Elfie find new strategic locations (and hats), Grace would wake up early and let me know the Elf had not moved. My typical response was it was so cold outside, that he had decided to stay put.

Then when her back was turned I would feverishly move Elfie somewhere else. Yes, I know this totally doesn’t make sense with Elfie’s backstory, but it worked. She would then be absolutely amazed that she had just seen the elf move and proceed to tell me that Elfie had also winked just to her.

This led me to wonder if Grace is completely untrustworthy, or if once again…Christmas Magic had prevailed.

One thought

  1. Beautiful story. Much less traumatizing than my response to Happy who hit me with both the Easter Bunny and Santa at the same time. There is Christmas magic and there is time to learn what Christmas is truly about

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