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We should have named the elf Joy-Stealer

December 24, 2013 - Betsy Bethel
Sometimes, the words just don't come. I want to be eloquent, but my brain is stuck in pedestrian mode. Today is one of those days, so I will make it brief.

I never liked the elf, never wanted an elf, resisted the elf for two Christmases, finally caved and now hate the elf more than ever.

Hate is a strong word, I know. In fact, it's considered off limits in our house. But when I woke up this morning and went downstairs to find my daughter sitting on the couch sad and grumpy because "Ginger leaves tonight," I wanted to strangle someone. I wanted to toss the stupid (another "bad" word at home) elf into the fireplace and incinerate her. How dare she steal my daughter's Christmas joy!? How dare she cause me to succumb to such base hostility?

The only reason I agreed to get the elf in the first place was to make my elf-crazed Emma happy — with the possible side benefit of giving my girl a daily reminder that kindness, cooperation and respect are what's expected of her this time of year, just like they are all year-round.

She WAS happy. She enjoyed looking for Ginger each morning. She talked to Ginger as if she were a real person. She made things for Ginger. She emailed Ginger, and Ginger emailed back every few days, commenting on the goings-on of the household and answering Emma's numerous questions (she's 120 years old, wants a Geronimo Stilton book and new mittens for Christmas, and she loooovvess zebra cakes.)

As for the kindness and respect aspect, Ginger was a zero motivator. At this point, I think Emma is pretty certain she could be the worst behaved child in the world and Santa would still come.

While snuggling with my distraught daughter on the couch this morning, I told her that maybe Ginger would email her throughout the year, from time to time, just to check in. That perked her up slightly. And, thank goodness, by the time I left for work, thanks to the Wild Kratts and a nice long bath, Emma's depression seemed to have lifted. But I know it's only temporary. I dread the "goodbye" scene tonight.

I read on a friend's Facebook this morning that their elves (they have one for each child) bring the kids presents on Christmas eve morning. That actually would be perfect — something Emma could treasure throughout the year. Why didn't I think of that? I guess Ginger could still leave her a parting gift tonight. But what? It will have to be something I already have because darned if I am going to any store today!

The sun is shining, there's a light snow cover on the ground, my work day is winding down before three days off, and Christmas is tomorrow. I am looking forward to church this afternoon, our annual steak and tater-tot dinner at my house, egg nog and a fire in the fireplace later. I have many things for which to be thankful.

The elf, however, is not among them.


ADDENDUM: When Emma went to bed on Christmas eve, full of anticipation and excitement because Santa Claus, according to the NORAD tracker, was starting across the Atlantic Ocean and would be in the U.S. in no time, she said simply: "I'm sad but I'm happy." I asked why she was sad. "Because Ginger is gone." Wait for it ... Then, "But, oh well! I'll see her after Thanksgiving!" And that was that.

So here, friends, we have yet another case of Mommy making a giant out of an elf!

(And thank you to a good friend who provided me with a gift from Ginger so I didn't have to go to the store. It made her, and me, very happy!)


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