A Christmas miracle occurred right inside the confines of my own grinchy self.
(Ok, that’s dramatic. I’m not at all grinchy but I have nursed a long and resentful grudge against the Elf-On-The-Shelf.) I've hated it with a fierce eye-rolling passion.
Somehow, this year, that little bastard won me over. Allow me to tell you why.
There was a moment this December when my 7-year-old burst through the door at 8:30pm on a Tuesday night, looking every bit his own person. He was decked out in his cub scout uniform after all…so manly and grown-up.
It hit me. He looks like his own person because he in fact, is. My little guy isn't so little anymore.
He has his own life to attend to. His own responsibilities, interests, and friends. And it’s going oh-so-fast. Gone is that chubby little toddler that squeezed my hand tight and wandered the neighborhood with me for hours studying anthills. (This is what the ladies in the grocery store are always talking about isn’t it? Now I am really starting to get it.)
He went to bed that night and I found myself wondering (as I set up a date night scene with the elf and Tinkerbell) - how many more magical Christmases are left for him? And for me with him? They are surely slipping away.
For now, he adores that elf. Both of my children do. With a mighty passion. They sprint downstairs looking for it every morning and belly laugh in delight at whatever antics that little pain-in-the-ass has been up to all night.
They will sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn and leave cookies and carrots out on the hearth on Christmas Eve.
They mailed their letters to Santa as we always do, in the special mailbox that we visit downtown. It’s red and says The North Pole in big, scrolly letters.
They believe in Santa. In all of it. They believe in this one miraculous time of year where the world around them becomes the stuff of dreams. It becomes a living childhood fantasy. They buzz with the mystery and excitement of it all.
They still have the incredible ability to believe in impossible things.
This year, after that moment of seeing my son standing in his little cub scout ensemble, something clicked. I heard the Who’s down in Whoville singing loud and clear.
I felt an unmistakable relief for that fact that he still loves that elf so damn much.
Seeing him fall under the spell of the season, seeing his ability to believe in the absolutely impossible….that creates its own kind of magic.
So, I will hide that pain-in-the-ass elf every night, inventing ridiculous scenes of "mischief", for as long as my children will have him. And I won’t even flip him off or swear at him anymore. (Or at least not as often.)
Elf is my partner in crime now...I think I might even like him.
For another year, at least.