The other day, I was standing in the kitchen making dinner when my son uttered words which drove a dagger of fear into my heart. “Mom,” he said, “Avery has an elf that visits her every Christmas and lives on a shelf in her house. Do you think an elf might come live with us?”
I mumbled something noncommittal about elves being unpredictable and changed the subject, hoping he would show the same persistence with the elf idea that he applied to his spelling homework.
I had heard bits here and there about the whole elf-on-a-shelf thing, but chose to turn a deaf ear as (a) elves are once-removed from clowns in the creepy doll department, and (b) I already celebrate time-honored and non-pathological Christmas traditions, such as hanging stockings and burning sugar cookies and reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in front of the fire (like normal people).
But later that evening, he brought a cardboard box up from the basement. I looked at him quizzically and asked what he was up to. “I’m building a house for our elf,” he answered.
He cut a door and windows into the box. He then disappeared upstairs and came back with the lid to a shoebox (which became an elf bed), a soft cloth (elf mattress) and a button (elf wall clock). I felt my heart sink.
At this point I was consulting Facebook to find out more about this elf tradition. As it turns out, it was worse than I thought. This was not simply a doll that sat on a shelf and looked at you like it would kill you after dark. No, this elf was expected to do fun and elfish things during the night to delight the children in the morning. Things like leaving gifts or writing riddles or “baking” cookies and strewing flour all over the kitchen floor (when I envisioned this last scenario, I inadvertently added the sound of a trigger being cocked).
I also discovered that there is a time-honored tradition of bloggers hating on elves, which, while it didn’t help me out of my predicament, did at least make me feel a sense of cosmic oneness with the invisible fabric of mankind through shared elf-contempt.
At this point, however, I resolved that no elf would cross the threshold of our home. Perhaps I could find him a stuffed reindeer to live in his house, or a Christmas cat, or (said in a whisper) buy him off with a new Lego. But no elf. Never an elf. Nope, I am strong.
I began researching alternative traditions which might make him forget the elf.
So preoccupied was I in my elf-thwarting plans, that I didn’t notice my son was standing right next to me, holding a fabric remnant he had dug up from the depths of my closet. “Mom, I think the elf will need a blanket. You’re a good sewer. Can you sew him a blanket?”
I am weak.
Today he built the elf a table and attached a perfectly pitched roof to his house. I sighed inwardly, knowing I was beaten. I could find a cute elf, right? They do make elves that look like something other than Chuckie’s little green brother, right?
I googled “cute elf”. Nothing.
“When do you think the elf will come?” he asked. I told him that no self-respecting elf would show up to anyone’s house until after Thanksgiving, if he knew anything about tradition (which, obviously, he doesn’t).
It is four days until Thanksgiving. If you find me wandering the aisles of Wal-mart, muttering to myself and passive-aggressively nicking the sides of towering Christmas displays with my cart, you won’t even have to ask.