I am a fiercely nostalgic person. Christmas is the hub of tradition and nostalgia for me. There are things that just absolutely have to happen during my holiday season or it just doesn’t feel right.
Putting the tree up on Black Friday.
Filling our wooden Santa Claus advent calendar with caramel Hershey’s kisses.
Getting a new holiday book each year to add to the ever-growing collection.
Christmas music! Lots and LOTS of Christmas music.
Just the scent of pine transports me back to my childhood and the feeling of Christmas. That, to me, is what it’s all about; My long-dead childhood and rekindling as many experiences as possible.
One thing I can never get back, however, is my sense of wonder.
That twinkle in my eye and the butterflies in my stomach. The magic. It’s something that is in each of us as children and at some point, it fades. Though my sense of wonder is gone, I see it now most clearly through my eight-year-old son.
With my little man getting older and entering school, I fear he’ll come home to tell me someone said Santa wasn’t real. Or maybe he’ll see something on TV, or overhear an adult conversation. The older he gets, the easier it is for him to happen upon the truth. The childhood-snuffing, wonder-killing, magic-less truth. I knew I had to get ahead of this and intervene before catastrophe struck.
Enter the elves.
I was turned onto the Elf on the Shelf by a family friend when little man was only three or four. Through that tiny stuffed elf, I saw pure magic beaming out of every stitch. I had to have one. More appropriately, my child had to have one.
I introduced our elf, Buddy, to my son. (Yes, after Buddy the elf in the holiday classic Elf). We read the book and we learned the rules. I set the little red-suited guy to work, magically bouncing around our house from day to day. Immediately, I saw the effect Buddy had on my son, and I ate it up like homemade holiday spritzes. This was it. An object that could help cement my son in his own state of wonder.
A monster was born. I have evolved into one of those crazy Elf on the Shelf moms.
I am more than dedicated to the secret role. It includes playing puppeteer, making special shopping trips to get elf supplies, and making elaborate and time-consuming scenes to be discovered each morning. Buddy was once frozen by the evil Mr. Freeze and was later rescued by Batman. Buddy has traveled to Grandma and Grandpa’s houses for extended holiday weekends. He’s been captured by a hoard of ravenous knights and was nearly ran over by Grandpa’s Polar Express toy train. He has floated in a ‘boat’ in our kitchen sink, and rolled down our stairs from the inside of a toilet paper roll. He’s left notes from Santa, and even stole my son’s tooth before the Tooth Fairy could get to it! (The Tooth Fairy promptly put him in cheeky elf jail the next day.)
What’s more, with the arrival of my daughter three years ago, we introduced the kids to Buddy’s sister, Jovi. (Again, a nod to Elf). So now I have two elves to orchestrate. And my job as conductor has never felt more important. Not only do I have to protect my little man’s delicate sense of wonder, but I have a new era of magic to keep alive through my daughter.
The stakes have never been higher.
While idea of Santa Claus is controversial to some parents and the fact that for nearly a whole month of the year, I am openly and theatrically lying to my children, I see it as so much more. Childhood seems like a delicacy these days. Kids as young as two have learned to master electronics. They are exposed to adult-themes in the real world all day long.
Unfortunately, you never know how precious your childhood is until it’s gone. I see it as one of the most important jobs as a mother to fight, with all the tactics possible – no matter how dirty or deceitful – to keep my children standing with two feet firmly in the very middle of their childhoods for as long as possible.
If I can buy a book and a stuffed elf to help in that mission, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
Making this charade seem even more important, through my children, I get a glimpse into the childhood I used to call my own. In the morning when my kids discover the trouble the elves have gotten into, I can feel it. Even if just for a moment, even if it’s only a small taste, I can feel my childhood right alongside theirs.
For just a moment, the magic lives on inside me, too.
For those of you who would like to see shenanigans Buddy and Jovi get themselves into, feel free to hop on over to Instagram and follow us @buddyandjovielf.