Juliana LeRoy of Windsor

Some of you may be familiar with the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. The idea is there is a small elf doll that appears in your home the month before Christmas, and each night he reports back to Santa on the naughty or nice behavior in your home. You know he went to the North Pole because he is in a different place each morning. It’s magic!

You can tell the families that have adopted this elf tradition, because they might reflexively remind their children, “Remember! Elfie (or Chippy or Snowball or whatever your elf is named) is watching!” They might have long, involved Pinterest boards with ideas for mischief elves can get into—like making snow angels in flour on the kitchen counter, or getting trapped in a canning jar or drawing mustaches on a family picture. Or they might be exhausted after startling awake at 4 a.m. in a dread-filled panic: “Oh, no! Did YOU move the elf?”
Our elf is named Chippy, because that was his name in the movie. He doesn’t do a whole lot besides move from the mantle to the bookshelf to the tree, but we enjoy him. (He has caused a few 4 a.m. panic attacks, but no more than the other items on my mental to-do lists, so I guess I can’t really blame Chippy.) I freely admit that I love the magic, and I’m willing to put in the extra effort for the results. (Okay–maybe not quite so much in the pre-dawn.)
A recent post on Facebook asked people to post pictures of their elves, with their names and some of their funny escapades. I’m just going to say, some families have very naughty elves, and some families have really involved elven adventures. My hat is off to the elves that do things like bake cookies, bungee jump from Christmas lights or take selfies on Mom’s phone. You helpers put ours to shame. (The families whose elves take hot tubs in the crock pot with Barbie or get caught nipping a little much at the egg nog may have some explaining to do, come Christmas morning.)
Some of the more elaborate scenes reminded me of a very special Christmas tableau we came across one night when the kids were really, really little.
We have several Fisher-Price Little People play scenes in our Christmas decorations. There is a train set, a little village set and a sleigh, chimney and tree with presents. Because the sets came separately, we also have an elf or two, a reindeer, two Mrs. Clauses, and three Santas…which, strangely, never even provoked one question, now that I think about it. We also have a very kid-friendly plastic nativity scene, with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the three wise men and three barn animals.
The toys have always been available for play for all of December, so over the course of the month we’d sometimes see things like Santa hanging out with wise men, or baby Jesus riding on the Santa train with a donkey or a Happy Meal toy randomly stuck in the plastic chimney. Baby dolls and Barbies and Woody from Toy Story appeared here and there, too. Basically, if it was a toy, it had a fighting chance to take place in some sort of Christmas Story.
One night, after I had put the kids to bed, I came downstairs to do a last-minute sweep of the room, tidying it up for the next day’s chaos. On the shelf by the fireplace, a toy police car had pulled up to the Christmas tree. Mary and Santa were knocked over, a sheep was standing close by, and in the background were Joseph, a reindeer and the wise men, just sort of looking on. It looked like something you’d see on COPS—a holiday-themed 911 call gone wrong. I stood there, blinking, and then went into Scrapbook Mom Mode, and took a picture. I don’t know where the actual photo went, but I have a very clear mental image to this day.
May your holiday be full of magic and memories, and may you find all you could ever hope for under the tree.
Juliana LeRoy wears many hats, including wife, mother, paraeducator and writer. She can be spotted around Windsor gathering material, or reached at [email protected].

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