Christmas Magic and The Elf on A Shelf

I read this article that appeared on my email sign-in screen this morning about an 8-year old girl who no longer believed in Santa  Claus, and how the The Elf on A Shelf saved Christmas for her.  We sold these little guys like crazy when I worked at Hallmark.  In fact, we couldn’t keep them in the store.  I was so excited when we got them in the first time.  My folks have a bunch of these elves from 45+ years ago, in different sizes and colours, in their Christmas decorations.  I thought this was a really neat idea, and what made it even better was that it was a mom and her daughter who thought of it and created the story together.  But the most important thing is the magic.

From our 2010 Christmas decor… the cardboard and coat hanger sleigh Dad made in 1965 with elves from around the same time.

I’m a fairy, I just know it.  I cannot imagine a world without magic- how sad would a world like that be?!  Magic is a way to escape, a dream, a wish, a feeling of hope.  To believe in miracles, to have faith, to know that good always triumphs over evil, to see your garden blossom because the fairies tend it every night, to swerve in the right direction at the right second to avoid that car skidding out of control on the ice because there is an angel on your shoulder…

To see your child’s eyes light up when she sees the toys under the tree, not because she wanted those toys, but because she knows that the wonderful, jolly, magical old elf himself was in her very own house.

Too many children lose the magic in their lives too early. Now, some parents will say that they need to.  It doesn’t do them any good to believe in Santa.  They should know the truth and not be led to believe that the world and life is all rosy and wonderful.  Rubbish, I say!  What is wrong with allowing children to be children?  When I was a kid, you didn’t start doubting Santa until you were about 12.  Maybe what’s wrong with the world today is that we take the innocence of being a child away too early.

I once asked a child from a well-to-do family who was having her 6th birthday at the weekend what she wanted for her special day.  Her answer:  clothes.

“Doll clothes?” I asked.

“No.  Clothes for me.”

“What about toys?  Is there a doll you’re hoping for?”

I was devastated to hear these words come from such a wee child:  “I’m too old for toys and dolls.”

The first year I was Santa for Shooshie was sad for me.  The magic was gone.  Now it was *me* behind the scenes, privy to all the secrets.  She was only 6 months old that year, but there were toys under the tree and a stocking full of teething biscuits for her to find.  I know she didn’t understand any of it, but she liked the sound the wrapping paper made and the pretty colours.  Christmas is Christmas, after all.   Yet, I didn’t get much out of that year as Santa.  It was just sticking gifts under the tree.

The following year was my big debut, though.  Shoosh was old enough to understand the something BIG that was going on.  There was this Santa fellow we’d met at the mall whom all the other little kids and mummy were very excited to talk to, decorations and special baking at home that she got to help with, and shopping and making gifts for our friends and family.  The pressure was on.  This had to be good.  I couldn’t blow it, lest I ruin Christmas for her forever!  I was excited despite the sadness of knowing the secrets that still haunted me.

I could not have been more wrong about the magic.  Christmas Magic is a strong thing.

And now, because she knew the secrets, Mummy was magic, too.  Knowing the insides of Christmas did not dim the flame of magical light.  In fact, it was even brighter!  I was the one creating Christmas for my child.  I was the one responsible for her wonder, her absolute delight, her belief in The Magic.

All Christmases following “That Christmas”, like some kids (and grown-ups) start planning their Halloween costumes in July, I worked it all out by Thanksgiving to make sure I had enough time to have everything I needed, stopping just short of creating blueprints for the toy displays.

The lady in the aforementioned article wasn’t too smart about Christmas, though.  “…when one of the boys pointed out to her that the Santa gifts and the gifts from us were wrapped in the same paper…”

She wrapped presents from Santa in the same paper she used for presents from her?  DUH LADY!!!  Santa always has special paper NOT found where Mummy bought hers.  I figured out the secret of the wrapping paper that 2nd Chirstmas.  Shoosh and I would buy our paper together during the current season, but *I* bought Santa’s paper on clearance the previous year in a store that we did not normally shop in so that Shooshie would never have seen his paper before.  Santa has a print shop and makes his own paper, of course.  Not everything from Santa is wrapped, though; he loves to set up great displays of toys under the tree.

Cookies and egg nog and the fruit- Santa should have something nutritious for his long journey- Shooshie left for Santa had to be reduced to a plate of crumbs and some orange peel every year.  I dare not put them back because she would know if there were the wrong number of goodies in the tins.  Every Christmas Eve, just before bed, we would write a note to Santa and his elves to leave with the snack, thanking them for their wonderful work and her toys, and hoping they had a safe trip with good weather, and please do take some tangerines for the reindeer, and say hello to Mrs. Claus and thank her for her patience when you have to be out so long on Christmas, and please do take some goodies to her, too.  Santa always left her a note in return in his own hand-writing (I had to remember every year which penmanship was the Easter bunny and which was Santa) thanking her for the goodies, for being such a kind girl, answering any questions she may have asked, telling her how much he and the elves enjoyed coming to her house and her grandparents’ house (he left a few gifts there because Grandma and Grandpa liked him to visit them, too) to see all the decorations, and how his reindeer always appreciated the tangerines.

I wait for the day to come when I can make the magic again and pass the secrets along to Shooshie.  There will be Elf on A Shelf.  There will be Easter eggs.  Flowers will blossom and vegetables will grow with the help of the nature fairies.  There will be fairy doors.

Oh, and as for the inevitable question:  “How did Santa get in?  We don’t have a chimney.”

Simple.  Santa is magic.

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