This is a long one, so grab some eggnog and a blanket!
I’m pretty certain that most of you out there have seen these cute little elves, especially if you have children in this day and age. I’m also certain that there are many of you out there who actually have one or more of these crazy little characters kicking around your house right now. And I’m also certain, that the many of you out there who’ve had an up-close encounter with these little elves have also experienced what Clem and I refer to as Forgot to Move the Fucking Elf Before Going to Bed Anxiety Disorder or FMFEBGBAD.
If you’re sitting there nodding your head in agreement as you read this, please know that you are not alone. If you are unsure if you have this very serious and life-altering affliction (I’m sorry, I’m laughing so hard right now!), these are the telltale signs that you may be experiencing FMFEBGBAD. As always, signs and symptoms may vary.
It could be classified as a disorder
If you have one of these cute little elves, and you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, from nightmares that you have forgotten to move the elf, and it’s the middle of July, you may be suffering from FMFEBGBAD. If you’ve had severe anxiety arise from your children questioning you about the actions of, or perhaps the very narrative surrounding your elf, you may be suffering from FMFEBGBAD. If you suffer emotional breakdowns because you’ve run out of ideas for Skippy the Elf to emulate, or spend countless hours searching the inter-web for new and grandiose ideas to knock your full elfin’ experience out of the park, you too may suffer from FMFEBGBAD.
If your kid comes home proclaiming that little Billy from school’s elf does extreme sports like jumping from kitchen cupboard to kitchen cupboard on a mini elf dirt bike, eliciting a response of desperation and jealousy from you that usually leads to you sitting on the floor of your closet while drinking Vodka straight out of the bottle because you cannot face your own kid because you just can’t one-up little Billy’s elf, you too may have FMFEBGBAD. If you consider making the insane purchase of any more of these elves, just to keep your lone elf company, or merely to have the option of doing more elaborate scenes with your lone elf, you may be suffering from FMFEBGBAD. If your loved ones think you’re a total nut job for going completely all out on creating outrageous scenarios for your elf to play in, causing you severe sleep deprivation, you too may be suffering from FMFEBGBAD.
If you need help, there is no one to call and nowhere to run, unfortunately. As it stands, there is no viable or effective treatment, and unfortunately, nature has to run its course until the holiday season is over. If you or anyone you know suffers from this disorder, you’re just gonna have to put on your big boy panties and tough it out you weenie. I’m kidding, but seriously, I’m also not!
Call me stupid
All I can say is oh my gourd. Clem and I were persuaded to bring one of these little cuties home quite a few years ago because Lola’s teacher had one in her classroom. We thought it’d be fun (famous last words) to indulge in the holiday spirit that is The Elf on the Shelf and nothing has ever been the same since. These little guys are quite the clever invention, and if used appropriately, can be a fun and entertaining experience…the first holiday season you have them.
After that, it all depends on how you set the pace. I’ll never forget the first year that we brought home our first…yup, you read that right, first…elf and have many a story and a nightmare to accompany the experience. What the hell were we thinking?
I’d like to say that the first year that we had our little elf was fun and memorable, but by the end of the holiday season, we were fried. I know what you’re thinking, it’s only for 24 or 25 days, suck it up Buttercup, but the reality is, Clem and I never do things small. Oooh nooo, never, and that usually ruins any and all fun forever, if I may say.
Christmas…let’s add to the stress, shall we?
Yeah, we were idiots, and of course, I’m going to indulge you as to why I say that…willingly. As you may or may not know, Caelan’s birthday is at the end of October…getting my drift already, aren’t ya…and we stupidly decided that the wonderful little elf that we’d purchased, was going to make her first appearance on Caelan’s birthday. Yes, we are gluttons for punishment.
Now, normally (which we aren’t normal…as you know), most of these elves make their appearance on the first day of December, and they like to wreak havoc all over your house, all the way up until Christmas. Basically, these little guys are supposed to assist in keeping your children tame and compliant all throughout the holiday season, which I figure, is to help deal with the insanity that is Christmas while doing fun things and keeping the wonder and magic in the holiday season. As any parent that has one of these knows, you must move these elves around after your children go to bed at night, making the magic of Christmas appear real. I think you get the gist, and if you want more information just look them up, they’re called The Elf on the Shelf.
Anyway, the most important component besides the children not handling the elves and making sure they’re nice because the elves are watching and reporting to Santa, is you. As the responsible adult you are, you, yes you have to move these guys every night, just to keep the kiddos believing. Honestly, this can get as wild and crazy as you want it to be, look no further than Pinterest. As you will see, adults and kids absolutely love it.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
We certainly had a lot of fun with it too…for the first while. As I said above, we stupidly decided that 24 days wasn’t going to be enough elfin’ Christmas fun for Clem and me, so we decided to go balls walls and bring her out early…at the end of October. Ugh, the horror.
I so wanna kick myself in the ass right now. Anyway, ’twas the night before Caelan’s 3rd birthday, and all through the house, not a child was stirring (finally), and we decided to blow it all out and place our newfound elf where the girls would see her. I think we just left her on the kitchen table with the book and DVD she came with and excitedly watched as the kids discovered her the next morning. And boy were they excited….and boy were we excited!
The flurry of Christmas excitement was instantly ignited (Halloween hadn’t even happened yet) and Caelan’s birthday was shoved by the wayside…for the moment. Clem and I were pumped. I’d made a huge spreadsheet, detailing all of the fun scenarios this little elf was going play a central part in on whatever day, with instructions and drawings to help pull off the entire event…all 50 something nights of elfin’ glory. I even made and purchased props and everything…go big or go home people, that’s the motto. My own family thought we were fucking nuts…because we were…sorry…are.
That same evening, after Caelan had eaten her cake and opened her presents, we decided that it was time to name our newest little addition. As we’d had our dog before we had the kids, we had no idea how difficult choosing a name with 2 children was going to be…for the love of all things hairy, it’s just a name for fuck sakes. After some squabbling and serious debate, we finally chose the name…Sparkles…what do you expect? They were just 3 and 5!
Anyway, I’ll spare you all the gory details and just say that Clem and I created the most outrageous scenes for our elf to partake in every night, some taking 2+ hours to construct…yeah, stupid right? We had Nerf gun wars with Barbie and her friends, zip lines running throughout the house, extravagant winter scenes with castles and snowflakes, and a whole host of other craftily created backdrops full of themes with corresponding storylines. All I am going to say is this, Clem and I probably sacrificed 10 years of our lives from a lack of sleep those first couple of years, due to strategic elf positioning and the massive bringing of Christmas magic and mastery in the dead of night.
After the first 5 weeks of this utter fucking nonsense, Clem and I were so bloody exhausted, that one night after the girls finally fell asleep, we hauled ourselves off to bed without a second thought. And wouldn’t you know it, we forgot to move the fucking elf before going to bed. Enter FMFEBGBAD.
When my alarm went off the next morning, I sat up with a jolt and smacked Clem out of his peaceful slumber because I knew we’d forgotten to do up the damn elfin’ montage we’d planned. And holy shit was I ever panicked. Clem wasn’t too far behind. As we ran down the stairs in the hopes of sneakily moving our elf before the girls noticed (they were already awake), we were met with disappointed and heartbroken wails, followed by some of the worst ugliness I’d ever witnessed.
It was ugly. They began to interrogate one another as to who touched the elf and made it too sick to fly home to the North Pole followed by some hefty shit throwing as to who was lying. As they began to pick at one another physically, Clem and I intervened, and that’s where the stuttering and bullshitting began. He and I are horribly shitty at improvisation, and thankfully our kids were young enough at the time to buy our pile of steaming utter bullshit.
I believe we indulged in the most astronomical bullshit story about us tossing Sparkles gleefully through the air to one another, like a football, due to sheer happiness the night before and that was the reason she couldn’t fly home (even though we could touch her without ill will). As soon as we knew the kids bought it, we shifted their attention and moved on with our day, laughing that the little buggers bought it. That was short-lived, and any time the kids walked past her, they started in on us about killing her. You can’t win, what more can I say?
A new form of anxiety
It was a long bloody day I tell ya, and one that I never wanted to repeat. They laid into me all day, and as many parents know, any day with children can be busy, but this was over the top madness. This was where the anxiety really hit us in the face. Thus, FMFEBGBAD was discovered.
It was after that night that we realized we couldn’t let our A-game slip ever again. The cost was much too high, in fact, the kids began questioning whether Santa was real and we just couldn’t have that. I admit I wasn’t proud, but over time, it didn’t end up being all bad.
In addition to all of the insanity that Clem and I put ourselves through, this little elf reinforced our Christmas ideals in a big way. I love to give and Christmas is the only time that I seem to be able to give without getting weird looks when I give someone something. I love the fact that our kids have always been just as excited about giving as they have about receiving and our little elf helped instill those values in our kids.
Sparkles the messenger
In fact, I’ll never forget the morning that Sparkles brought an important message to the girls about needing their help with bringing joy to the students of their elementary school. I think this was the third year we had our elf, and she sure came in handy when we needed her most. Thank goodness for her.
Clem and I volunteer any chance we can with our daughters’ school and any others that have ever needed an extra hand. In this case, Clem was asked to dress as Santa on the last day of school before winter break and hand out candy canes to the kids. The problem was, our kids would know their father immediately, and we needed them to play along. So, we used Sparkles as the messenger.
She was found that morning with a Santa suit for Clem and a note explaining the meaning of Christmas, highlighting that the best part of it all, is giving to others wherever and whenever they could. Santa asked the girls to play along, knowing that Dad was doing a favor for him because he was just too darn busy to get to the school so close to Christmas. Santa often asked others for the same help in malls, parades, hospitals, and other places when he couldn’t make it, the note explained, and our kids completely understood. To see our kids immediately on board was an awesome thing to see.
They were so excited to be a part of something bigger than themselves. For them to be willing to play the part for other kids, was heartwarming to witness. I’m proud of them for that.
Inspiration and exhaustion
In addition to all of these crazy moments of understanding, Caelan began to create herself a new persona, as an elf. She so loved Christmas that she decided that she was an elf who went to The Pole every night, after we went to bed, to help the elves prepare for Christmas by making toys. I love her imagination! So, she and Sparkles were best friends and the stories she’d tell me were priceless…I miss those days.
In effect, this little doll, although much more taxing than what we originally thought, was worth all that pain in the end. As we got closer to Christmas the first year we had our elf, Clem and I managed to finish strong and stumble across the finish line. We couldn’t wait for the elf to make her way back to The Pole on the night of December the 24th, and end the agonizing late nights of insanity.
I admit, that although fun, we had to be more realistic in the years to come (we weren’t). We noted this when the kids would return home from school and tell us that the other kids in their class were jealous because our elf just did it all better. That was the signal that we’d gone way too far over the top. Yay for us, but seriously, it was killing us.
Goodbyes are hard
I’ll never forget that first Christmas Eve with the elf, however. When it came time to say goodbye to Sparkles for a year, it was heartbreaking. To hear our girls cry and say how much they were going to miss her, tugged at our heartstrings. Hell, they even had us crying, bunch of softies we are.
She did manage to make her way back home that year, and for days after, all the girls could talk about was how much fun they had and how much they missed her. It was like a close family member had died. Who knew?
As I mentioned above, this little doll has given Clem and I quite the complex, and I often wonder how many others have been affected the same way. We laugh, but it’s really screwed us up over the years, ha! I still awaken in the middle of the night, drenched in a cold sweat, in the middle of July, shaking the ever-loving shit out of Clem while yelling did you remember to move the elves? Ah, good times.
Now for the real reason I wanted to write this
I apologize for the long telling, but the reason I wanted to share about our first elf and our experiences with her, we have 3 now…yeah I know, is because whoever invented this crazy phenomenon, deserves our heartfelt thanks. Not for the fucking FMFEBGBAD it’s caused Clem and I, but for creating something that became invaluable and much bigger than I ever thought it would. What our elf meant to our daughters when our youngest went through her cancer treatments, is difficult to explain.
I know that I haven’t finished telling Caelan’s story, but because it’s Christmas, I really wanted to share this. If you haven’t read and you’d like to read, you can catch up here, here, here, here, here, and here or under Caelan’s Story on my homepage. As it is the elfin’ season, and our little Sparkles has come out to play for what could be our last season of having a youngin’ who still believes in Santa, it hit me about the significance of this little plush toy and what she truly means to our family. I know, it’s just a kid’s toy but as I’d like to share, she means more to us than just that.
As I have been saying since my daughter became ill, I’ll never apologize for what I’ve had to do to survive and I think it’s ingrained in each of us to do certain things in order to do so. Also, as I will continue to say, no 2 people are alike and experiences vary. I hope that this inspires someone who truly needs some sort of magic in their lives right now or perhaps in the future.
In the beginning…
Around 4 p.m. in the late spring of 2016, we received a call to go to the hospital to be admitted so we could start Caelan’s first round of chemotherapy (they hospitalize on the first round, just in case and neither of our kids had ever stayed in a hospital, let alone Clem and I, aside from having the girls). After running around frantically to pack her up in the very short amount of time they gave us, I ripped apart the Christmas boxes to include Sparkles in the journey. Don’t ask me why I stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of packing her clothes, I was just compelled to do so. I had a million other things I needed to be doing, while I was running around, scared shitless and in shock, with no rhyme nor reason, but I knew Caelan needed her.
Of course, she needed many things, but I knew this wasn’t going to be a picnic. It’s not that we needed this doll to be persuasive, it’s that Caelan needed a glimmer of hope and something to remind her of the good. I worried that this would attach a bad stigma to the little elf but I wondered if after all of the tearful goodbyes at Christmas and with the admissions of how much the girls needed their elf, that if this was ever a time that Santa needed to be real enough to reach out and truly care to help a child in need, now would be the time. In our home, Santa means so much more than just presents, he is the symbol of humanity and kindness.
I clearly remember ripping through the countless Christmas décor boxes, almost hysterically, trying to find that bloody elf. I remember digging desperately and pulling shit out, and cussing and sweating, and then wondering just where the hell we stashed her. I felt like I was going to have a breakdown if I had to give the idea up, I was bound and determined.
When I finally found Sparkles at the very bottom of the very last Christmas décor box, I silently fist pumped in the air and danced triumphantly so that no one could hear. With time running out before Clem and Caelan’s departure, I was cutting it close. Clem absolutely insisted on staying with her, and I knew that that was a war I wasn’t going to win.
Clem and I were gutted when she was diagnosed and I found that we latched on to anything and everything we thought we could do or say that we felt we had some sort of control over, in an attempt to try and quell our own fears. I saw the protective fatherly instinct kick into overdrive, which was a force to be reckoned with, and I just didn’t have the strength to fight Clem about who was going to stay with Caelan. We’ve always both been there for our kids, but Clem absolutely needed to be there, and as only one parent could go, we decided he would. I cannot explain how difficult it was to let my child go without me, but I knew that I would be there every single day for as long as I could to support Caelan while also being there for Lola.
Clem is an amazing father, and I knew Caelan would be more than okay with him there. It’s amazing what we can do as parents, isn’t it? I still can’t believe we survived this. Anyway, I remember finding the elf and shoving her under my t-shirt to get her up to my room to sneak her into Clem’s bag. If there was anything that I could control, it was this.
I may be out of my mind, but I have no regrets
I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen on the way up to my room because Sparkles wasn’t going to be able to be her usual Christmas elf self and needed a whole new set of rules. I remember writing a quick note saying that Santa sent her to be there with her while she went through all of this and that this was an exception, in that Caelan could touch and hold her any time she wanted without hurting her magical ability. I didn’t want Caelan to have to be around her in that small space and not be able to handle her because I know Caelan would’ve felt nothing but guilt if she’d accidentally touched her. I slipped the note in between Sparkles’ arms, above her sewn hands, and slipped her into Clem’s bag before going back downstairs to be with Caelan.
Clem arrived in a flurry shortly thereafter, and I ran back up to our room behind him before he packed his bag. I wanted to be with Caelan as long as I could before they left, but I felt that this was beyond important. As I closed the bedroom door behind us, I pulled Clem in front of me and whispered to him that I had snuck Sparkles into his bag and asked if he could set her out the next day, so she was the first thing Caelan saw when she awoke.
I know the look he gave me was one of, are you out of your ever-loving mind? but I asked that he humor me. As he went back to packing, I went to try and ease my daughter’s anxiety and let her know that everything was going to be alright. It was only a few minutes later that Clem had everything thrown in the car and they were gone. That is one goodbye that I’ll never forget.
Home didn’t feel like home
As I’ll write later on, the silence that filled our home that afternoon, evening, and every day following when Clem and Caelan weren’t there, never felt right and I never became accustomed to it. It was just wrong if you know what I mean. Not hearing Caelan’s little chipper voice and Clem’s usual motoring around, changed the feel of our home drastically.
I tried to keep Lola and myself busy until bedtime, so we didn’t have to sit and experience the abrupt and cold change in the now unfamiliar atmosphere that was our home. I remember calling Clem before turning in for the night (yeah right, I’ll be honest, I didn’t sleep much during this time and that was especially a night that I didn’t get one wink of sleep) and I reminded him about Sparkles and being sure Caelan saw that she was there. He assured me he wouldn’t forget, and set his alarm to wake himself up ahead of Caelan.
I usually shut my cell phone off at night and keep it in the kitchen to charge, but any time Clem is away (rarely) or the girls, I keep it next to my bed and turned on, just in case. I don’t like to do that, but in these instances, they’re the exception. The next morning, after I got up and was getting ready to head to the hospital, I remember my phone dinging to signal that a new text message had just arrived. It was around 8 a.m. and it was a photo.
A welcome surprise
Clem sent me a photo to show where and how he placed Sparkles at the end of Caelan’s hospital bed. Clem, you’re The Best Dad Ever. About 20 minutes later, when Caelan awoke, Clem said that it was like Christmas morning.
Despite all of the shit and horror she’d gone through and was in the middle of, she was beyond excited to see her little elf friend. In fact, she insisted on taking her father’s phone and called me immediately. She was ecstatic.
I could hear the smile beaming across her face as she asked me in her cute little voice who I thought had come to see her. I was on the verge of tears but was thrilled by her happiness. Of course, I played dumb and listed a whole number of outrageous names as she giggled and told me no, getting louder with each name I threw out. Clearly, she was enjoying the fact that I was stumped.
Sparkles to the rescue
After my final guess of The Queen, she laughed and blurted out Sparkles! She began to eagerly fill me in on how she opened her eyes and Sparkles was the first thing she saw at the end of her bed, it was magic. As she was terrified to touch her at first, Clem pulled the little note from Sparkles’ arms and read it to Caelan, who excitedly told me that she could hold her and it wouldn’t hurt her. Caelan was over the moon and I felt a moment of relief that she was happy that her elf was there for her.
I know that there aren’t many in the world who’ve experienced these kinds of things with their child, but sometimes it feels like everything gets pulled out from under you (and your child), and there’s nothing but air and freefall beneath. To have something, anything really, to be able to reach out and hold on to, sometimes makes all the difference you need to survive in whatever way you need in those moments. This little elf, she was Caelan’s rope, and at the other end, hope. Hope on a rope I guess you’d say.
As I’ll write about later on, Caelan ended up in the hospital for more than the time allotted, and having Sparkles there to help pass the time was a true gift. Clem was up every morning before Caelan to ensure she had something to look forward to each day, the hunt for the elf. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference, never underestimate that.
A permanent fixture
As it was, that little elf went everywhere with Caelan during her cancer journey, and when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. She stayed in the hospital with her, she went to appointments, she was there every day when we flushed Caelan’s PICC line and she stayed with her every single night. Other kids would often question Caelan about her elf and the fact that she was handling her, and she’d happily explain that Sparkles was there for as long as she needed, Santa’s orders…hopefully, we didn’t screw that up for anyone! If we did, we’re sorry!
The 9 weeks of treatment felt like they’d never end, but as you’ll read later on, we managed. It wasn’t easy and we had no other choice, but we made it. And along for the ride, the whole entire time was Sparkles the Elf. If she wasn’t front and center, she was always close at hand.
Only a short while (2 months) following Caelan’s completion of treatment, and subsequent clear PET scan, my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A week or so after that (in November), Lea and her family moved into our home while they attempted to figure out what was going on and our family was once again, immersed in chaos. As the insanity engulfed us, Sparkles was thrust back into the limelight.
We believe in elves
Every night we had to make sure she was firmly tucked in beside Caelan, and we often heard Lola asking if she could have a word with Sparkles in private. I’m certain many of us have had a conversation or 2 with a deity, the universe, or something bigger than ourselves at some point, and for our kids, it was our elf. It was then that I’d realized, that she was more than just a doll, she was the girls’ confidante and talisman.
This put us into a pickle-y situation. We knew that Sparkles was going to have to go home eventually, but how to convince Caelan and Lola, was going to be a problem. We told Caelan that eventually she’d have to go back to The Pole, especially after Christmas and we tried to prepare her because that’s what the elves do, right? We all have to say goodbye sometime, don’t we?
I wasn’t fully in agreement with Clem because of what I had been witnessing about the elf having to leave (Clem works outside our home and being that I was a stay-at-home mom I saw more of this than him). I felt that that could be very damaging, but as Clem pointed out, we all have to say goodbye at some time in our lives. For me, it just wasn’t the right time. With everything that had happened and everything that was happening, I wasn’t convinced it was the right time to take the elf away.
Seeing as how this little elf kept our kids afloat, we decided to adopt 2 more for the impending holiday season and give Lola the chance to have another elf to call her own. Aren’t we dumb? As our view on life had changed, we’d decided to do everything at high volume and that Christmas was going to be awesome after the shit year we’d had, so it was bring on the elves!
3 elves meant 3 times the fun, but Clem and I were smarter and began December 1st, and not at the end of October. We had a lot of fun with the 3 but tried to keep things a little more realistic this time. As it was, we were trying to juggle some serious life shit again and were still exhausted from Caelan’s ordeal.
Clem and I did have some serious burnout and suffered FMFEBGBAD 3 times worse, but we managed to hold out until Christmas. The girls really enjoyed that round of crazy elfin’ fun and it will be a holiday season we’ll never forget, BUT, the girls had questioned every single day if the elves really had to go. This overshadowed much of the joy that season and I must admit, added to all of our anxiety. We knew that they’d need to go back eventually and attempted to try and prepare the girls for their Christmas Eve departure, but something I’d never thought of before, hit us between the eyes.
She’s more than just an elf
What we encountered, wasn’t expected. In fact, it wasn’t until this point that we’d realized the impact that these elves had made in our children’s lives. As I’d mentioned earlier, these little dolls had become integral to our kids’ wellbeing. I know, it sounds dramatic, but that year, on Christmas Eve, not one of us was able to let them go.
I know, it’s just a doll but that first little elf and now the 2 others, were a part of the intricate system that made up our little parachute. If we cut those strings, the parachute wouldn’t be as effective or perhaps wouldn’t open. We’d been tossed from one fire and immediately into another, was this really the time to be doing this?
It was Christmas Eve and it was supposed to be a happy time. We’d gone through so much that year and desperately needed to just be. As we’d just finished our ritual of tucking the girls into bed and reading The Night Before Christmas after an emotional evening at my sister’s new house with my side of the family, we attempted to say our goodbyes to the elves. Not surprisingly, it was just too painful and after a while, I finally got up and asked Clem to meet me outside of Caelan’s bedroom.
Choosing our battles wisely
Once Clem shut the door, he and I had a moment. After I finally stopped sniffling, I started by saying that I felt like a momster for trying to take these dolls away when our kids clearly needed them most. He admitted that he finally saw what I had been saying about the significance of these elves in our kids’ lives and we both agreed that we needed to do something. They weren’t things that were just tied to Christmas anymore, they were tied to a great many other things as well.
I asked him what he thought about letting the girls keep the elves because they needed them and he agreed. He and I weren’t ready for them to go because we couldn’t fill the void that they filled for our kids. Why cause more damage.
We quickly devised a plan (our improvisation had obviously improved, thanks to the elves) to tell the girls to write a note to Santa, asking if the elves could stay because we still needed them. As Clem and I dried our tears, we went back into the room and shared the idea, to which Lola and Caelan excitedly and immediately agreed. They hopped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to write their heartfelt letter before climbing back into bed 45 minutes later. They were in much better shape after that and full of hope that Santa would once again deliver.
Growing up too fast
We again tucked the girls back in and re-read our Christmas story, this time not dwelling on the stress of saying goodbye to the elves. We kissed them goodnight and wished them a merry Christmas before walking into the kitchen to decompress. Neither of us could bring ourselves to read the letter the girls left, so we sort of mulled around the kitchen while gussying up the nerves to do it.
I know I have the letter put away in a box somewhere, but I’m not ready to bring it out and read it again quite yet. For being 7 and 9 years old at the time, our girls were quite aware and getting good at asking for and taking what they needed to cope in life. All I’ll say is that the letter exemplified just that, and we were not going to deny their needs. Tissue, please…
Clem and I set out the gifts under our tree and placed our crazy little elves out front and center to welcome the girls on Christmas morning. Santa replied to the letter, of course, granting them their wish and indulged in his pile of cookies and milk. Once everything was all said and done for the holidays, Clem and I took a moment to sit and reflect.
We finally sat together on the couch and talked about all the hopes and dreams we had for the following year (the last time we’d done that, we were awaiting our daughter’s cancer diagnosis and talking about what we’d do if we’d lost her) while eyeing the elves lovingly. They’re some amazing little helpers when they put their minds to it and I’m grateful to have them. They may just be dolls to many, but for us, they are a lifesaver.
Part of the family
As I write this, they’re terrorizing a few of my other cute Christmas decorations in the living room and Caelan is terrified that they’re going to draw on her face with Sharpie markers, ha! Talk about giving your kids a complex! We’ve not placed our elves back in their original boxes within the Christmas decorations since the Christmas Eve of 2015. Yes, we’re a little crazy.
From December 1st to Christmas Eve, it’s hands off the elves as they still perform their Christmas magic nightly, just nowhere near as over the top…most nights. And for every other day and night of the year, they keep watch over Caelan in her room, enjoying the occasional visit from Lola, who has obviously grown out of believing in Santa because he’s not cool anymore. We’ve enlisted her help to create elaborate elf schemes over the holidays and I think she secretly enjoys propping them up when she feels inspired (she’s a night owl so I’ll gladly accept her help).
I don’t know exactly why, but once December 1st hit, I felt compelled to share this story with you. As I believe this will be the last year that Caelan is a ‘devout’ believer in Santa (we still believe in Santa because it’s the name given to all of the things we encompass during the holidays, but the man, the myth, the legend is on his way out sadly), it’s sad to think that this chapter is about to end. She still needs her elves though, so they’ll probably be with her forever and that’s okay. Whatever she needs to feel whole is good with me, they’ll always be welcome.
Do I think that another plain old stuffed toy would’ve done the trick? Perhaps. But I think it was the magic attached to this little elf that made all the difference. There’s power in that I believe. Caelan has a ton of other stuffed animals that she packed around with her, but Sparkles seemed to be included in most everything.
I don’t know some days how it would’ve been without her, but it was an interesting facet within the many during this journey that I’ve encountered. I’m sad to see the magic go, however, and I know it sounds silly, but I owe a lot to that little elf and always will. Thank you Sparkles, I owe you a lot of eggnog and cookies and perhaps much much more.
As Christmas is only a few days away, I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a very happy holiday! To all of those elves out there working their magic, I appreciate your service and to the wonderful people supporting these elves, perhaps we should create a support group! Ha!
Be merry everyone!