When Dude 3 came home in kindergarten lamenting is life without an Elf on the Shelf, I realistically, for the first time in life, thought about homeschooling.
Stupid school and stupid school kids with their influence and pressure to conform and junk. We aren’t lemmings! I DO WHAT I WANT! THE MAN DOESN’T OWN ME!
I went to Target the next day and dropped forty American dollars on that red capped demon spawn with the creepy eyes and the scalloped collar that won’t lay flat to save it’s life. Because he deserved it.
He didn’t deserve to question his goodness or his enoughness over some scrappy little elf. Sure, sure, we talked through how he’s a good person no matter what anyone, man, woman, or elf says, and we reminded him that Santa thinks he’s a good boy because HE IS. But, we’d committed to the Santa magic and because according to his friends/teachers/etc at school the Elf was a part of that magic now, we wanted him to have one.
Sebastian rode in on a white horse that night (like an actual toy horse) and saved the day, simultaneously changing Christmas traditions for our family for good.
The first year I was one of those parents moaning about Elf on the Shelf duty wholeheartedly –I don’t need another thing to remember, why do I have to be so inventive, I’d rather eat cookie dough and sleep, waaaaah the Elf is stupid and ugly and annoying and weird. Why the side eyes? What is he looking at? Me? He better not be looking at me!
I’d forget to move the little punk and I’d have to weave an intricate web of lies about how Seb fell asleep waiting for us to go to bed or some such nonsense fit for a five year old to believe.
On those mornings, his disappointment over my failure was evident, and that disappointment was enough to make me get my game face on. At least until I forgot again.
The thing about it though was that for every dumb and annoying thought I had about the Elf and all it stood for, Dude 3 had all of the joyfully wonderful thoughts about him.
That kid fell head over heels in love with his Sebastian. He woke up enthusiastically every morning of life, scampered out of bed, and searched the house with his face splitting grin on to discover his friend’s new hiding place. He would enlist his reluctant-to-participate older siblings for help. And, when he discovered him, his joy was enough to fill a salty room of people grumpy to be up five minutes early and barefoot on the cold floors with happiness (it was fleeting, and the moaning about all of the things would reignite shortly thereafter, but still, moments of joy, no matter their brevity, count!).
When we sent Seb home on December 24th of that year, I was secretly sad to say goodbye. Not sad like, wooohooo can’t wait until next year, but sad like, gosh I hope he enjoys that still when he’s 6.
And even this year, as he approaches his 8th year of life Sebastian continues to mean something special to him.
His faith in all things magical is as strong as it is beautiful. His excitement over the holiday season is palpable. Watching him experience the magic of Christmas (from the birth of baby Jesus to the magic of Santa) brings tears to my eyes. He is so happy and eager and excited and sparkly. Dude 3 is like my Christmas Luke Skywalker –the force is strong with that one and, even in a house where teenaged testosterone has infected most of the other inhabitants with cynicism and the desire to sleep until noon, it’s contagious.
Far be it from me to destroy that.
Or, to be so busy, annoyed, overwhelmed, or uninterested that I can’t possibly take a moment to indulge the joy of my 7 year old who will soon want to ignore me and my holiday shenanigans, scratch that ALL of my shenanigans, entirely.
I know of this time in the not so distant future when our holiday discussions will be largely one sided and soundtracked with sighs and grunts because Mom is silly and sometimes embarrassing in her holiday hat and her Christmas sweater. My 14 year old can tell you all about it (only he won’t bother because, even though I am insanely lucky in the teenager department, talking to you about me is not something he cares to do).
Not having to remember would be easier. Not having to awake with a start, slink out of bed, and be the magic while he is distracted with brushing his teeth would be simpler. Not ever spending an evening coming up with something fun and funny that will make him giggle and hop up and down with glee would free me up for more cookie dough eating and additional sleeping.
I’ll sleep when I’m dead because none of that would be worth this…
And I want this for as long as possible.
See you next year Seb.