Cole grew up with the Brownies, small sprites that do helpful work while the household is asleep and enjoy small gifts of food. Cole’s Waldorf teachers introduced him to gnomes, elves, and fairies; and, of course, St. Nicholas, Santa, the Easter Bunny, and fall, winter, spring, and summer fairies all visit our home—but no Elf on the Shelf.
Surely you’ve heard of this elf? Maybe not. Let me explain. The Elf on the Shelf story was written by Carol Aebersold and co-authored by her daughter Chanda Bell. The book set comes with a pixie elf that you’re invited to adopt and name. At the start of each Christmas season, an elf appears in each home every day to serve as Santa’s eyes and ears. After the family goes to bed, the elf uses his (or her) magical Christmas powers to fly back to the North Pole, where he makes his (or her) daily report to Santa. The elves also use this time to visit with elf friends, when they tell stories about their beloved families, play with the reindeer, and of course, sneak some of Mrs. Claus’s cookies! Before the family awakens each morning, the elves fly back to their homes from the North Pole. However, since these elves like to play games, they never come back to same spot! While some like to hide in the freezer (probably because it reminds them of the North Pole), and others prefer to sit on the fireplace mantle or hang from the chandelier, all of them love to play hide-and-seek with their families. The children’s job is to find the elves and greet them but never to touch them since magic is very fragile and they can easily lose it. On Christmas Eve the elves’ jobs are done and they travel back to the North Pole, where they stay until the following year.
Some moms of a sixteen-year-old may accept that the Elf on the Shelf tradition has passed their family by, but I worried that Cole would look at me sorrowfully one day and say, “I never had an Elf on the Shelf, did I?” How could I live with that? I couldn’t, so Cole woke up on December 1 and was greeted by his Elf on the Shelf.
“Mom, do you know anything about the pixie in my room?
(Nope the Brownies brought it.) “It’s an elf.”
“No, Mom, she’s a pixie.” (Never argue with a Waldorf kid about these things; after all, the gnome Diane Divide taught him math and the winter fairies brought snow days.)
“Did you read the book that came with the Pixie?”
“Not yet.” (So I read him the book, and he inched closer to me to see the pictures.)
Despite the fact that I had his attention, I could see that he was a little reluctant to buy into Elf on the Shelf magic, so I had to sprinkle a little pixie dust …
“Cole, did you know that our pixie will bring back presents each night from the North Pole.” (Of course, I made this up. It’s not part of the story, and if you are a purist and a mother of a six-year-old, I have one word for you — SO!)
(Cole’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.) “Presents?”
(Now, here is where it gets tricky. Do I commit to 24 days of presents, along with St. Nicholas Day and Santa? Yes.) “Well it’s a little elf …”
“Pixie.” So she couldn’t bring very big gifts all the way from the North Pole, but I imagine she wouldn’t return empty handed.
“Well, I could use another tiny moleskin notebook, and some cool socks, and …” (I bet you could. I’m now thinking about lumps of coal because I realize that my teen is trying to out maneuver me.)
“Cole, you don’t want your pixie to report back to Santa that you tried to take advantage of your mother, do you? That’s naughty, not nice.”
“Tattletale pixie.” (Score one for Mom.)
Later that morning at breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, we discussed pixie names and decided on Sally. We named her after the restaurant. She got lucky — her name could have been Pancake.
Every night, Sally leaves us, and every morning she comes back and hides in a new place waiting for Cole to find her, which he usually does after school. Tonight I heard him say, “Thanks Sally” when he found the chocolate snowman she had brought back from the North Pole for him. He then walked into the kitchen munching the chocolate and gave me an impromptu hug (you didn’t think he walked into the kitchen and shared a piece of his chocolate, did you?).
Always remember, you’re never too old and it’s never too late, to toss a little pixie dust into the air, and create some magic and stir up some FUN.