Three days before Thanksgiving, I sent a text to my best friend. She has four kids, ages 14 to 2. Besides my own mom, she’s my best parenting resource.

Me: I’m thinking this would be a good year to get an Elf on the Shelf!

Her:

Me: Come on! It can’t be that bad. It seems like so much fun!Her: Nope. Don’t do it. Wait as long as you possibly can. You’ll see.

Me: Nonsense! (followed by a series of happy faced emojis)

What a Scrooge! – I think to myself as I pull up the Amazon app on my phone. Oh look, they come with a little book and collector’s box! Done.

Two days later the package arrives. Ninja Turtle pajamas on, teeth brushed, I plant my son on the couch. “Guess what?” I say gleefully.  “Santa sent you a package today!”

We open the box and he stares in amazement. He wants to know what it is. I tell him it’s an elf from the North Pole and we have to read the book to know what to do next. We gently open the box, careful not to touch the elf, and retrieve the book.

Page one instructs us to give the elf a name. Actually, the child has to give the elf a name. I ask my son what he wants to call the elf. He’s at a loss. I want to name the elf Griswold, but the elf is not mine to name. To inspire ideas, I ask my two-year-old son what he likes, who his favorite characters are, and where he likes to go.

“How about Piggly Wiggly McDonald’s?”

Rules are rules. I am guessing, with certainly, that our Elf on the Shelf is the only one of Santa’s elves with a personalized adoption certificate that reads “Piggly Wiggly McDonald’s”. We decide to call him Donald for short.

The book goes on to explain that the elf’s mission is to fly to the North Pole to report to Santa the activities, good and bad, that have taken place throughout the day. Before the family wakes up each morning, the little elf flies back from the North Pole and hides.

I put my son to bed. I place Donald beside me on the sofa and set about my quest for elf ideas on Pinterest. Two hours, a half block of cheese and a box of Wheat Thins later, I am ready for bed.

At 3:00 a.m. I wake up and realize that Donald is still sitting on the sofa where I left him. Oh well, I think. That’s as good a place as any. I’ll be more creative tomorrow.

Morning comes and my son is none too impressed with Donald’s hiding efforts.

“Mommy” he says, “I thought you said I was going have to LOOK for the elf every morning? Him’s just sitting on the couch.”

Night Two: It’s 2:00 a.m. Donald is still on the sofa. I get up, snarl at Donald and place him in my son’s stocking. I position the elf so that his smug little grin is visible from the doorway.

Night Three: My 5-year-old niece joins my son and me for a sleepover. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and realize that Donald is still in the stocking. A child on either side of me, I slink to the foot of my bed and tiptoe through the house. I move the arrogant little elf to the light fixture in the kitchen. I crawl back into my crowded bed and set a recurring alarm called “Move Donald” on my phone.

_____

 

Now, several days later and thanks to the reminder on my phone, things with Donald have improved. Sure there are still nights when I forget to move him. For example, one morning I hastily tossed him in the dishwasher while my son wasn’t looking. I told my son that perhaps Donald got stuck at the North Pole due to bad weather.  Poor Donald received a good rinsing later that day.

But there are also nights when I am able to put my Pinterest finds into action.

 

On many mornings my son chuckles and cheers at Donald’s imagination and ingenuity and because of this, I have developed a love and appreciation for Donald. Not only is he a good bargaining tool and motivator for good behavior, he is actually pretty cute and I like having him around when I need to have a one-sided conversation with an inanimate object…which happens more often than I’d like to admit.

This little elf has also given me something new to observe. Each morning I hear my son open his bedroom door and creep around quietly, searching for his little elf. I sit in bed pretending to sleep and listen as his diaper makes swooshing noises as he walks – his footed pajamas gripping the hardwoods. He won’t come and wake me until his elf-finding mission is fulfilled.

As I reflect on these last few weeks, it occurs to me these moments are limited.

Is this little elf an inconvenience? Sure. Have I questioned my decision to bring him into my home? At times. Would I do anything differently? Absolutely not.

The holiday season is soon coming to an end. I am sad it’s almost over, but I am also very grateful it happened. I try to look at life the same way.

In many ways, the phases of life can be described as seasons. Some are stormy, some are breezy, but seasons are always opportunities for us to grow and learn.

Are there some seasons in my life I wish I didn’t have to endure? Sure. Have I questioned some of my decisions along the way? At times. Would I do anything differently? Absolutely not.

With only a few more days until Donald leaves us for his long-term stay at the North Pole, I find that I’m going to miss the little sprite. I am not ready to banish him to the red and green storage tote in the garage. Maybe when the time comes, I’ll find a place for him in the back of my closet, near a sachet or something soft. Until then, I will treasure Donald and the time my son and I get to spend with him.

Today’s thought: Cherish the seasons. Good or bad, seasons are learning experiences. With learning comes growth. With growth comes healing. With healing comes peace. With peace comes joy.

Wishing you peace and joy this holiday season,