I did something yesterday. Something I never thought I would do. I drove to our local toy store (shop small when possible people, it’s what all the cool kids are doing), walked straight to the display by the register, and grabbed one square white box with red writing. You all know the box. We all know the box. Anyone that has parented, grandparented, and taught children since 2005 knows the box. The guy at the register said, “That will be $33.47” and I cringed a little but still managed to run my card. It’s for the greater good, Copper. Said box was tossed in the back and off I went to run the rest of my errands.
If you haven’t guessed, I bought an Elf. He comes up every year but we have never done one. Truth be told, I think he is cute. And while I don’t care for the “Be good or the elf will tell on you” aspect, you should be good to be good, I think it is done in fun and has become a great tradition for many people. I love seeing all the posts about his adventures in different homes. Even more so, I love it when he gets into naughty PG-13 trouble.
We haven’t not done it because of the effort. In my book, if something is too much work then don’t do it. Who cares? Your kids will still have a wonderful holiday. My kids certainly have. This stuffed doll isn’t going to make or break that. So, why are you making yourself as miserable as you keep telling everyone you are? Honestly, we have never gotten around to doing it because of the money. Every year I have looked at those boxes and almost grabbed one but haven’t. I am a little tight in the wallet department and 30 bucks is a lot. Frankly, for a few years there, we didn’t always have a spare 30 bucks. When you make midlife u-turns, extra cash doesn’t always flow and often we had only a small amount to make our holidays what they were. To spend a portion of that on a doll seemed wrong. In hindsight, I probably should have just done it but oh well.
So what changed, you ask? The answer is a little sad. Inevitable but sad. The answer is Blondie. Blondie is 9 and she still believes. She is still my little girl. She talks about making her list for Santa and loves putting out decorations. She keeps talking about what we are going to bake and “Can we hand it out to our neighbors, mama?” She started requesting the holiday station in the car and has listened to the Christmas CD I brought back from the Home Free concert at least a dozen times in the last 3 days. I see her looking over every single ornament on the tree. She checks the little Santa countdown in the morning and can’t wait to do her Advent puzzle book. She still has that magic of Christmas in her that only a child can. But again…she is 9.
She listens to pop and country music for hours in her room, with the door shut. Her book choices are sliding into the young adult category. Her brothers have become less and less her best friends and more of a nuisance. Her clothes are no long frilly and don’t you dare suggest piggy tails or a ribbon for her hair. She has crushes. No longer is everyone her BFF, her friend circle has grown tighter and smaller as her interests become more defined. She is still a wonderful girl but I catch glimpses of eyerolls and sighs of “OMG mother.”. She becomes mopey at the drop of a hat but doesn’t know why. I can smell the preteen on her. Literally sometimes, hormones smell.
I know this may be her last year of sprinkling reindeer food outside on Christmas Eve without knowingly winking at me. I know this may the last year she asks to see Santa. I know this may the last year that she is truly shocked to see that the cookie plate is empty, covered in crumbs. I know that her tradition of writing him a note, leaving it by the fireplace and getting a response is coming to an end. Maybe this won’t be her last year but I know it could be. And while I know she will still play along for the sake of her brothers, it will never be the same.
My friend Missy posted a picture a couple of weeks ago of her daughter and the 2nd elf they added to their family this year. Her point was more or less, “Who knows how long we will have this stage, I am embracing it as long as I can.” That struck a nerve with me. I can see the end of the tunnel with Maggie. I don’t know how close I am but I can see it and it breaks my heart a little. And I am determined to make it as magical as I can for her and her brothers. If this is her last year of believing then it will be a grand finale. We will watch all the Christmas movies 100 times, EVEN the dreaded Santa Buddies. Hot cocoa will be available at all times. We will eat buckeyes until our tummies hurt. We will have our friends over to decorate cookies. We will get our pictures taken with Santa and make lists and decorate the house in paper chains. We will drive around and look at lights until they all pass out. And we will welcome the Elf on the Shelf into our home, finally, after all the years of asking.
And if he manages to keep the magic going a little longer, he can stay as long as he wants.