Those of you who read my blog regularly (and if you don’t, why the heck not?!) know that Max plays Elf on the Shelf for me every year in December. Each morning, before I wake, he helps my elf find clever hiding places so I can play elf hide-and-seek. Up until this year, the grown-up version of the elf was very tiny- about as long as my thumb and half as wide. Kringle’s size made it possible for him to hide in a wide variety of bizarre places. Not a good option for the younger set. Most kids worth their salt would have become bored and frustrated looking for a microscopic elf. Children would have the good sense to wander off to pursue more rewarding activities. I was not so wise. I often needed multiple hints to locate him and there were some mornings I searched for a good half hour before calling “ally, ally, outs in free.” The elf would giggle maniacally when Max retrieved him from a place I either would never think to look or, embarrassingly, where I had already looked several times.
Max liked that Kringle the Elf was so small because it gave him the advantage in the game. I liked that he was small because it made him unique and interesting. On the other hand, Kringle’s size made him kind of delicate. And hiding places like a slat on a plantation shutter or in the fold of a blanket on the couch were definitely hazardous to his health. His little appendages were about as thick as toothpicks and more fragile. Over the years, bits of him kept breaking off until there was really only a torso, head, and bit of a cap left of him. It was pathetic, but I would not relent and replace him.
For one thing, my Kringle was part of a limited-edition promotion. You cannot just buy tiny elves. The elves in the stores were all much bigger than Kringle. If Kringle is the measuring stick, a regular elf on the shelf seems like a mutant. One year, Amazon gave away these mini-elves with a $100 purchase. Since spending $100 on Amazon was child’s play for my mother, she acquired several of these little guys and gave them away for Christmas of 2015. That is the other reason I was loathe to replace Kringle. My mother bought him and inspired the game of elf hide and seek that Gary plays with me each December. Kringle was part of my Christmas sentimental journey to visit my Momma.
This year, however, when Max and I were wandering around Hobby Lobby a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, we found a facsimile elf that was only slightly larger than Kringle. Max finally convinced me to let Kringle go home to the Great North Pole In The Sky and bring a new elf, Kristina, into our little family. I agreed reluctantly only on the condition that I myself had no part in disposing of our mutilated little Kringle. One day he just disappeared. I assume he is enjoying his retirement in a nice safe hiding place.
Kristina has been an excellent elf, although I still think of Kringle fondly. She is a little bigger so she is a little easier to find. However, she is easily as sneaky as Kringle. Some days, I have found her lickety-split. Other days, I have needed hints. Two days, I surrendered to her stealthfulness. She hid inside the battery compartment of my wooden Bavarian village. She hid in the paper bag that holds the Christmas card Max bought me. She hid under the edge of the Christmas tree skirt. I think my favorite place that she hid was inside the stable on my fake gingerbread nativity set. I guess she was trying to get there before the wise men.
I sometimes wonder if I am ever going to grow up. Then, I wonder if I want to.
What Christmas activities are making you jolly this year? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Love and joy come to you!