The elf on the shelf--it began easily enough: a flurry of imagination and excitement, visions of a new avenue to pave with fond family memories. And so year after year, this delightful little visitor would show up to make mirth, merriment and messes in my home during the busiest of seasons. His antics were great fun, and all of the labor that went into his amusing tableaus was absolutely worth the joy it brought.
Eventually, it was less fun though.
So many December nights of sleep interrupted with a start--had he moved? What would he do next? Did he have to?
So many tired mornings where his creativity was awarded with a cursory glance and barely a comment before the day began.
So many craft supplies. Glitter can kiss my ass, for real, yo.
And so this year, when thinking of Christmas, Harold Hubert Piggybottom was no longer a tradition that made me light up with holiday excitement. At all. There was some mention of his possible arrival from my 8-year-old and I listened with trepidation to these requests, and tried to gauge their sincerity. My 11-year-old was media blackout-style quiet at any mention of Santa or elves, his silence saying more than words could.
I wondered if the ELFS program was a good idea. I wondered if we could un-enroll. I wondered if our Christmas tradition had the potential to ruin Christmas for one of us. I wondered if Santa answered adult wishes, namely the one where he doesn't send a miniature terrorist to my home to create more work for me every single night. I wondered so many things because that is what my brain does, wonders and wonders and wonders.
And then Christmas magic happened.
We arrived home from having after school ice cream to find a package on our doorstep.
Both kids started cheering that it must be Harold, since the package was so festive and had his name on it, and I was really nervous for what was to come next.
Once the sack was opened, a balloon floated out with a scroll tied to its end. The scroll said:
Season's greetings! For years now, you have been outstanding
members of the E.L.F.S (Elf Live-in Foster Service) program: always willing to share your home,
accepting and patient even with one of our more challenging elves, and a
shining example of good behavior to Harold Hubert Piggybottom, aforementioned
challenging elf. We are so fortunate to have children like you welcoming the
magic of Christmas in such an intrusive, and often messy, way. We have learned
so much about your family, culture, and the lives of modern children through
your participation--and, let's face it, we got a lot done without Harold
around. If you think he's challenging for a few weeks, imagine what we deal
with the rest of the year! You have been amazing hosts.
Anyway, we are honoured and excited to announce that this
year marks a very special occasion for the McCann brothers. Due to your
kindness, diligence, respect for others, and believing natures, you have both been
awarded an honorary elfship and have graduated from the ELFS program. What does
this mean, you ask?
Well, in order to qualify, nominees had to be in the top 5%
of children for good behavior this year. That's WORLDWIDE! You scored in the 96.7
percentile collectively, which is extraordinary. Congratulations on your
secured places on the nice list!
(Please open the enclosed gifts before continuing.)
At this point they paused and opened the boxes.
found silver coins nestled within (within Easter grass, which is
STRICTLY forbidden in this house, even more so than glitter. Seriously,
There was some hushed awe as they flipped them over in their hands and marveled at the weight. I continued reading:
These silver coins
are tokens from Saint Nicholas himself (currently known as Santa Claus--modern
times forced an image re-branding). In the days of olde, he used to leave tokens
like these in the shoes of children to spread the spirit of magic, joy, and
love every Christmas Eve. Your job as honorary elves is to continue to practice
the spirit of kindness and giving to spread peace on earth. It is essential
that the children on the good list help establish our future through their
strong leadership skills and we know the McCann brothers are up to the job.
(Yes, it's real silver. Try not to pawn the spirit of Christmas,
though, okay? Santa hates seeing these things on ebay.)
Your honorary elf names are Tippy Tannerick Trueluck and
Chip Chaseton Chariot. We don't expect you to put that on your driver's license
or anything; it's a designation similar to when the Queen of England knights
rock stars, and does not afford you lodging or employment at the North Pole.
I'm sure you are wondering what this means for your friend
Harold Hubert. Well, we are also proud to announce that other than an
"accidental" incident with a silly string machine (please note: we
are no longer gifting silly string or any variation thereof due to its high
flammability rating), his behavior has been exemplary. He has been nominated as
community leader and will be the co-pilot for this year's present drop, which
is a great honor. His excitement is infectious, we are all hopeful and
optimistic about his new role!
Harold loves you both and has vowed to verify your names on
the nice list each year, but I have to confess that as of now, Harold isn't
allowed near the lists so I'm not sure why he promised that. But maybe one day,
right? (Note to self: double check the security of the list vault.)
One last thing, your confidentiality in this matter is of
the utmost importance. If other children knew about this honor, their behavior
may be influenced for the sake of a prize which is not true niceness, so we ask
that you not share this exciting news with your classmates or online. You may
tell adults, as most have lost their magic and may not believe you anyway,
which is an unfortunate symptom of growing up. As honorary elves, we know that
you will become the type of adults who help keep magic alive.
Thank you for inviting us into your
delightful home. Please continue to make life magical. Harold Hubert
Piggybottom will always live on in your hearts and will be watching...from a
safe distance. Have the merriest of Christmases, this year and always.
"Wow," I concluded. "This is insane, I've never heard of anything like it. The top 5%? Wow, you guys, congratulations. That silver coin is amazing."
"I'm pawning mine on eBay," Big Kid stated, as I gave him a look he ignored.
"Dude, this is a collectible. You sell it on eBay and you'll get the value of the silver but if you hold on to this thing, bro, it's gonna be worth a ton of cash some day. I wonder when our elf is coming?" little kid said.
My heart sunk a bit. I thought the message had been clear. "Uh, I don't think an elf is coming," I picked up the scroll again. "It says you've graduated, I think that indicates that you've moved beyond needing an elf--"
"Well, that's sad." His face fell.
"But you got the silver," I reminded him.
"Yes!!" His smile returned. "Now I will get silver every year, probably with a different design on it. That's a pretty good deal."
"Well, I don't know. I'm not sure you get the silver every year."
"Oh, I'm sure that I do. It's like a special club. Where you get silver every year."
"Hmm." Okay, I reminded myself, it's a small price to pay.
"I'll sell mine on eBay every year," Big Kid said again.
"Then I bet you won't get more than one because it said not to sell them on eBay," I said, with a hard edge in my voice. He smirked at me.
"Now I KNOW Santa is real because there is no way parents could get their hands on a collectible like this," little kid said with wonder in his voice, turning the coin over in his hand again before shining it on his shirt. "It's going to be so hard not to tell the other kids but I don't think we should, bro. But I don't think anyone in my class is in the club, because they would've told me. Mom, can I write Santa a thank you note?"
I told him he could. I wanted to write him one as well.
Neither child liked their honorary elf name. The silver has been mentioned a few times since the arrival of the package, but the elf has not.
And that's how we broke up with our elf on the shelf. Our time with Harold was magical and I don't regret it--I'm just happy the relationship ended before the magic did.
Click here to read more about our life with Harold Hubert Piggybottom.