We are pleased to announce the impending arrival of a new little member of the family, as of Friday, December 1. Don’t break out the Mazels quite yet; I should clarify that his name is Bubbles and he’s only here for a few weeks.
Bubbles, aka Bat Elf, watches out for mischief from his spot on the shelf.
Yes, Bubbles is our Elf on the Shelf.
Before you roll your eyes and tell me I’ve given in to commercialism and that the Elf is creepy and possessed and nobody has time to do One More Thing over the holiday season anyway and it’s all about Mom shaming, just don’t. I know all of those things may be true (well, not the possession thing but he does have sort of an evil-eye going on sometimes) but I don’t care.
Yeah, it IS one more thing to do and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I have a Post-it note on my bathroom mirror that says BUBBLES!!! More than once in the next 24 days or so, I will look wearily into that bathroom mirror and see that note and break out a few Naughty Words before I head back downstairs to think of some sort of interesting scenario/spot for the guy to be found in the next morning.
But my boys love it.
They are counting down the days this week until Bubbles returns from the North Pole, and almost every morning from December 1 to the 24th they are brimming with excitement, jumping up and down in their footed Christmas pajamas, begging to go find what that little Elf has been up to overnight.
Sometimes he just sits high up on a picture frame, maybe with a fellow toy friend or two for company. Other times he may be stirring up a big bowl of Starlite mints with a giant whisk from the kitchen. Or he may spell out a message in tiny marshmallows that, by the way, also make a perfect pre-breakfast snack. Occasionally he may bring a small present or even a note from Santa himself! You never know what that elf might be up to next, thanks to Pinterest and a lot of Dollar Tree and Target $1/$3 bin supplies.
In one of his more complicated, but fabulously successful, scenes, Bubbles donned a tiny (custom made!) Batman cape and mask and swung from a grapple hook below the staircase. Another time, he built a tall building with blocks on the coffee table and created a complex battle scene with all the stuffed animals from the boys’ rooms. They roared with laughter and delight.
Yeah, I see what I did. I anthropomorphized this doll into a sentient being who has some sort of plan for creating merriment and mischief in the wee-hours of the night. I know he’s not real. I do.
But he’s really fun.
Some people think, that in a season with so much to do, adding Just One More Thing is some sick form of self-abuse. They may be right. But I also find it brings me lots of joy. Many nights I am working away at my weird idea for what to do that evening, and I will giggle with excitement and my husband will look up from his reading and ask, “Are you cracking yourself up?” Yes, I say, because LOOK he’s in the clock or ha, ha, he’s gotten onto the light fixture by flying a toy plane up there. He shakes his head and laughs, I like to think with me, not at me.
We do occasionally use him as a spy for Santa, which I feel is a touch cruel, if effective, in reigning in some behavior issues in this potentially Naughty time of year. Part of the mythology is that kids are not allowed to touch him, lest his magic be rendered null and void. But he does sit up there (hence the name, Elf on the Shelf) and watch for offenses when Mom leaves the room. Leading to the inevitable, “MOM! Davey touched the elf!” or “MOM! Lucas hit me but Bubbles saw him so he gets no toys, right?”
So the bad with the good, as in all things.
Like most Moms of little people, by the end of the day I’m really tired. And by end of the day I mean 8 pm. So taking on yet another holiday project (are my Christmas stockings done yet? Nope. Going on year 7, thank you very much.) is probably not my smartest move.
I remind myself that there are only so many Christmases where wonder and the magic are so real to my little boys. They are six and four now, still wide-eyed with love for Santa Claus and now our own little visitor from the North Pole, Bubbles. Last year, my youngest boy was a little hesitant to sit on Santa’s lap, but with the elf (and his big brother) by his side, he bravely snuggled in and even smiled.
It’s depressing to realize that you only have a handful of years with your Little Kids before doubt and cynicism kick in. With the Internet and Mean Kids with Big Brothers around, it’s not long before the questions start.
“Mom why do those pillows say ‘Believe’?” my older son asks. “Believe in what?”
“Uh, the magic of Christmas I guess.” I stammer.
He doesn’t know yet that he is supposed to believe in anything. He just does.
My Dad really loved Christmas. He was terrible about keeping secrets or waiting until the actual day to give what he’d chosen, especially for my Mom, but he loved the whole season. He covered our mantle with poinsettias, bought huge holiday roast beasts, and made all of our Christmas dreams come true. On many years, we’d be done opening presents and eating our traditional cinnamon rolls when suddenly he’d proclaim, oh wow, I just noticed a few other things that Santa must have forgotten… Miraculously a few more gifts would appear, often the very most-wanted thing on our lists. One year I got a basketball, another I received a camera. “Santa” always saved the best for last and the magic seemed almost palpable around our lovely tree with our whole family there together, peaceful (for the moment) and thankful.
I do the same thing on Christmas morning, too. After we are done opening gifts and the boys are playing in the piles, I sneak to the kitchen, place two more packages outside the porch door, and ring the back doorbell. “What was that?” we exclaim, and the boys run to the front door and then to the back, squealing with delight at new-found bounty discovered out there in the cold.
“Santa must have forgotten those earlier! Wow! How lucky you are!”
How lucky, indeed.
I honestly dread the time when the boys start to eye-roll and tell me they are too big for all of this Elf nonsense. They know the truth, they will tell me. And maybe even they will fake it a few more years but they will know that I know that they know. And I will be sad, as I am sometimes now when I spot a milestone of Little Kid life making way for Big Kid ways.
But until then, we count down with an Advent calendar or two full of treats, and I’ll lose a little sleep and flex a few creative muscles after dark and Bubbles and I will try to come up with some new elf adventures for my boys to come across every morning. Each year when that elf leaves to go back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve, there are usually a few tears (not from me, by then I’m usually out of ideas). But we know he’ll be back on December 1, with treats and mischief and fun. At least for me.
Because I still believe.