That “Elf on the Shelf” thing seemed like a great idea a couple of years ago, back when Plum was living with us all the time. My need to create magic and joy to cast out some of the hurt and anxiety was in overdrive, Christmas was just the way to bring the sparkle back to his eyes. I sent away for our own elf, scoured Pinterest for ideas, created elaborate scenarios each night after he went to sleep. It was wonderful. Chef and I took pictures each evening, proud parents documenting the birth of elf activities. We all had sparkling eyes.
Life has since stabilized for my Plum, he no longer needs me to create his magic, bring back sparkle. Yet I am still stuck with this damn elf and I have to admit I am over it. I feel guilty writing that, I know this is very likely our last year in which he will believe such nonsense. I should be going all out. Still, the elf has about run its course, I am broke, exhausted and fully aware that any vista I create I have to clean up as well. Ho Ho Ho, merry Christmas.
Because Plum is only here a few nights a week, I could conceivably manage this. Yet he is so excited to see what “Elfie” has done that he wakes up several times throughout the night asking if he can get up. The beasts wake up, the cats run through the hallways, I say no and try to go back to sleep. Plum has my sleep patterns unfortunately, when he wakes it takes him forever to go back to sleep. We both look like hell at this point. I have explained that I am ready to contact Santa to see if Elfie can go back, Plum is calling my bluff. Is there an elf-recall hotline? I put a digital clock in Plum’s room, taught him that the 6 has to be the in the first place before he can get up. This helps, he knows he can’t go downstairs. Now we need something that reminds him he can’t lay in bed and holler for me until the clock says 6 also. Or we need an Avenger, Captain America or Hawkeye, to come rescue us from the evil elf. I’m getting desperate, Elfie is no longer bringing joy.
I do have really cool ideas for the elf this year, I just don’t have the motivation by the time he goes to sleep and I am free to set things up. I am done by then, I am ready to sit for 5 minutes and then go to bed myself. Last night I was actually in bed when I remembered the elf, remembered he was waiting for his adventure. A certain level of denial is necessary for all of us to get through the holidays, suspending logic, relying on faith. I prayed for the strength to get out of my warm bed, back into the cold air, head downstairs, rousing the beasts, firing up the cats, all to set up the scene. A lame scene by Pinterest standards but Plum doesn’t scroll through that site yet. I am still only compared to myself, maybe memories of last year, but those are hazy in a child’s mind. I think. Elfie made it through another night, we barely did. “Gran, I’m thirsty.” “Gran, my tummy hurts.” “Gran, will you put the dog on my bed?” Each of these requests come about 2 hours apart, I am not equipped to deal with 2 hour wakings anymore. The Elf is going in time out, on strike, wicked away by reindeer, God help me, something.
I have at most 8 more attempts to make this elf rock, 8 more nights to reinforce the magic. We are completely invested in telling the real story of Christmas, Plum is rooted in the faith. But just for a bit longer, I want to keep some magic for a little boy who hasn’t always had much to believe in. So today we are going to have a very serious discussion about sleep. A talk about waiting, about advent, about longing for things to come. We are going to remember all the people who waited for the Christ child, who walked and roamed and followed the star. We are going to consider how tired they were, how much they longed to rest. We will wonder what they did to prepare for the coming of the oh so special babe. Then we may just take a nap. Holidays are rough, elves are not so helpful, but the star is always leading to our true sparkle.