Ri and I walked into her classroom on Monday morning and all of the kids were in a circle screaming at one another about what their “elf on a shelf” did the night before.
“My elf’s a girl and she took clothes out of my brother’s drawers!”
“My elf swung from one side of the room to the other side with my dad’s rope!”
Maria stood outside of the circle with her mouth opened just enough to form a tiny candy square and her eyes fixated above the kids as if she was watching their words floating in the air. She shifted her piercing blue eyes onto me.
“Mom, why don’t we have an elf?”
By Tuesday we had one: Christmas Elfie, Snowy Snowbell. A girl. I didn’t run out and buy one because everyone else had one and I needed to keep up with the Jones’. I bought one because I saw the magic and wonder in Ri’s eyes when the kids were talking about the elf. She believed. After last year’s trauma with St. Nick where she refused to believe in him and broke me down to where I had to admit it was dad and me who filled her stockings, I would have bought a continent to have her believe.
When we all got home Tuesday night, I placed our elf on the mantle and yelped “Guys, did you see what’s on our mantle?” They ran in the living room and Ri screamed and immediately belted out commands to Mario.
“Don’t touch the elf; she will lose her magical powers! Don’t bother her! Write down what you want for Christmas and lay it next to her!”
He listened intently. I told them that one of their friends’ elves must have told Santa to send an elf our way. I described to them how this elf would watch over us all day and head back to the North Pole at night to deliver a report to Santa. Their eyes bulged out towards the window imagining the elf’s travels to the North Pole. They each wrote up a list of desires: Maria, a pup, American Girl doll, a Barbie; Mario, a scooter, tic tac toe game, and a laser. They set it by the elf and we all went in the family room to play.
A half hour later, Jon rushed into the room and gasped “the elf is gone!” The kids bolted into the living room and he was out of sight. The front door was ajar.
“He must have headed back to the North Pole and taken your lists!”
Mario burst through the front door and stood on the porch looking into the black sky. Pointing to the North Star, he proclaimed “I see the elf riding towards Santa’s home!” Ri stood next to him and gazed up at the crystal star.
Jon moved the elf to the kitchen bookshelf that night and the next morning the kids ran downstairs screaming “the elf didn’t come back!” Jon explained that the elf may have landed somewhere else in the house upon his return from the North Pole. They opened a hall closet and found the green exercise ball shoved in it.
“Dad, the elf shoved your ball into the closet!”
Jon had shoved the ball in there on Thanksgiving to avoid someone tripping over it but he went with it. “Oh my! Where could that elf be?”
They finally found it in the kitchen. They did not touch it because they didn’t want it to lose its magic. They just yelled “We found Elfie! We found her! She’s back!”