Wondering where to find
What you truly miss
Well maybe all those things
That you love so
Are waiting in the place
Where the lost things go..."
–The Place Where Lost Things Go, Mary Poppins Returns
Yes, she still holds on; our oldest Beatrice believes in the Christmas magic. She's 10 and believes in the Santa and the shelf elves, something we've only gotten into the past year. Our youngest Bryce, who's 8, is definitely still all in, complete with a splash of Baby Jesus and the message of hope and love.
The advent calendar action we provide every year -- aspirational notes in each daily pocket plus a trinket or a candy -- is something they look forward to every year. Although this year they both know it's us filling the calendar pockets and not the shelf elves.
And they're okay with that. Phew.
Bryce is the one who wanted a shelf elf in the first place. Never a tradition for me or the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife), Bryce first saw them on one of her kids' YouTube channel shows and immediately shouted from the rooftops for one. So we ordered one for five dollars and girls tracked its travels via USPS from China, an adventure all its own. The day it was supposed to be delivered, it wasn't, and we thought it lost forever. So we ordered another, and then they both arrived.
They were named Pinky and Cotton Candy. And then within months the two became six:
- Cotton candy
- Peppermint (who you can't touch with your hands or you'll have to place her in a pan and surround her with cinnamon; the girls have special gloves to handle her)
- Angel Cakes (who you also can't touch with your hands or you'll have to place him in a pan and surround him with cinnamon; the girls have special gloves to handle him)
Plus, add in the shelf elf reindeer their grandma Nonna just got them: Cocoa Chestnut.
Every night starting on December 1, our shelf-elfing shenanigans have them moving around and doing fun things every night, a little light mischief without compromising their elven integrity like some do on the world wide interwebs these days. Plus, there's been the occasional note from the girls to the elves, asking them for things, and then the elves writing back, sometimes complying.
The girls are convinced that Santa will take the elves away on Christmas and won't return again until the following December 1. I didn't realize this was part of shelf elven lore. Who knew?
The girls wanted the shelf elves to create a treasure hunt of sorts before they left at Christmas, so they wrote them a note -- and presto! -- a treasure hunt.
The girls woke up and found a note on the elves in front of the fireplace.
"Do you see that note?" said Beatrice.
"Dang, it's in cursive," said Bryce.
Beatrice read the note aloud:
Look on our shelf to start the hunt! --Pinky
One of the bookshelves in our living room has a shelf dedicated to the elves, of course. From there, the treasure hunt continued.
This is where you keep your musical instrument. -- Peppermint
"How does he know where it is?" said Beatrice, talking about her trombone.
"Because he watches you," said Bryce.
"Oh, that's creepy," said Beatrice.
The treasure hunt led to the place where we bake cookies.
"It might be the oven," said Bryce.
And sure enough, it was. What was in the oven, you ask? Four pairs of elf outfits -- one for each of us, of course.
"Yeah!" the girls shouted.
"Let's wear them!" said the Mama.
"But they were supposed to do this on Christmas Eve. It's early. But, I guess that's okay," said Beatrice.
The Mama and I smiled at each other. Within minutes we were all dressed in our new elven garb, and of course, that's when I sat everyone down for a family picture, for posterity.
And for Instagram and Facebook, of course.
I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. In fact, as I write this, Beatrice is setting up a Santa trap that will wake them up so they can see him when he arrives. The trap prototype includes string "trip-wires" that will ring a bell upstairs in their room, and we'll run down to the hardware store later for some fishing line for the final trap. We ain't playin' at our house.
I too hold on with all my might, over half a century in on this wonderful life I've been blessed with. I've never lost the love and hope of my childhood, even through the dark times. It's alive and well deep in my still beating heart, where Santa and Baby Jesus and Snoopy and Luke Skywalker and Mary Poppins sing Grown-up Christmas List day after day after day:
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list
This is my only lifelong wish
This is my grown up Christmas list
Merry Christmas World. I believe in you, too.