Edward The Elf Part 1

I first heard about the American Elf on a Shelf tradition this year.  In a nutshell: you buy an expensive doll, register it online, then spend Advent threatening your kids that the elf is grassing them up to Santa, and every evening posing the elf in increasingly imaginative hiding / posing places.  Apparently it’s very popular.  Although there’s a lot about that tradition that I personally don’t like, I felt that there were a few things that I’d like to incorporate in our Christmas for this year and this year only.

What kicked it off? Well, it occurred to me that now Maxi Minx is 6, it’s possible that this Christmas will be our last where all 3 girls whole-heartedly believe that Santa Claus is rewarding their good behaviour with presents; when Christmas is still utterly magical and mystical to them.  Based on me and my siblings, we learned and understood the awful truth about Santa sometime between the ages of 5 and 8.  Although I know that Maxi will be happy to join the team and promote Santa’s magic to her little sisters, I want to prolong the innocence and downright fun of all their childhoods as long as I can.

So… we’ve been using the free PNP (Portable North Pole) service for 3 (4?) years, now – you upload details and photos of your child and ‘Santa’ emails them a personal, fun video.  Me and The Boss absolutely love watching the girls’ expressions and reactions when they get their video at the beginning of December, after they’ve written their letters to Santa.  It’s been the same actor all this time, so Maxi and Midi absolutely, categorically believe that THIS is Santa.  The annual video message from Santa makes Maxi’s eyes sparkle like no other event.

This year I felt that I wanted something a bit more long-lasting than that 3 or 4 minute message; something that would keep that magic at home with us.  I thought that an adaptation of the Elf on a Shelf tradition might work.  A fortnight in, I have to say that it’s been a bigger success than I’d hoped.  Here’s what I did:

Edward the Elf

Edward the Elf

I want this to be a one-off, so decided to knit a little elf, rather than buy one or make a huge fancy one.  I wanted to make it myself, knitting every stitch full of love for my daughters.  This free Tiny Elf knitting pattern from Spud fitted the bill.  Then I wrote a letter from Santa to the girls.  It would have been easy to fill it full of warnings and threats about bad behaviour consequences, but do you know what?  My wee minxes are good little girls; they frequently show each other lots of care and love.  What a brilliant opportunity to acknowledge that!  So Santa introduced Edward to them as an elf who worked on the chocolate orange factory line who wasn’t getting along with the other little elves.  Santa wanted Edward to learn by watching my minxes in action to see how well they got along together (none of them spotted the throwaway line that he’d also be telling Santa how they were behaving).

On Sat 1 Dec, while everyone was busy helping The Boss make pancakes for breakfast, I sneaked Edward to the front door, holding the letter, and let the girls find him.  Maxi read out the letter to her sisters.  Mini just chuckled and wanted to waggle his bell; Midi’s eyes got rounder and rounder.  They were instantly convinced that he’d come from Santa.  Hehehehe!

From that night, he got up to little pranks.  Within a few days he’d transformed mornings in our house – instead of having to haul the girls out of bed, they wanted to immediately bound downstairs to see what Edward had been up to.  Even better, they wanted to gather together as a trio to go see, together.  It’s been working better than an Advent calendar!

Dec 2: he was obviously missing his chocolate oranges, because he was found with his nose buried in oranges

Dec 2: he was obviously missing his chocolate oranges, because he was found with his nose buried in oranges

Dec 3: making snow angels in the flour

Dec 3: making snow angels in the flour

Dec 4: spelling his name out in sultanas

Dec 4: spelling his name out in sultanas

Dec 5: Santa sent a chocolate orange and a letter of praise to the girls

Dec 5: Santa sent a chocolate orange and a letter of praise to the girls

Dec 6: getting to know the other toys

Dec 6: getting to know the other toys

Dec 7: hiding in the wreath

Dec 7: hiding in the wreath

Dec 8: re-decorating the tree then hiding under the star

Dec 8: re-decorating the tree then hiding under the star

Dec 9: what the kids think happened (the trail of flour leads to the fridge, with a big jug of pancake batter inside)

Dec 9: what the kids think happened (the trail of flour leads to the fridge, with a big jug of pancake batter inside)

Dec 9: what actually happened..!

Dec 9: what actually happened..!

Dec 10: fun with soap

Dec 10: fun with soap

Dec 11: getting to know (!) the doll's house doll. Watched by a pair of smiling OAPs...

Dec 11: getting to know (!) the doll’s house doll. Watched by a pair of smiling OAPs…

Dec 12: more toilet roll fun

Dec 12: more toilet roll fun

Dec 13: a letter from Santa congratulating them on their gymnastics competition and some special good-sister efforts. A new leotard for Maxi and Midi, and paints for Mini

Dec 13: a letter from Santa congratulating them on their gymnastics competition and some special good-sister efforts. A new leotard for Maxi and Midi, and paints for Mini

Christmas Decorations

It’s that time of year again when we put up the Christmas decorations. The Boss brought down the 2 boxes from the loft that we’d packed up carefully 11 months ago.  We 5 settled into our annual decorating traditions: I hauled out as much mess as I physically could to make space for the tree and madly washed the windows and net curtains; The Boss blinked at all the mess and studiously tweaked every bulb in the light strings; the minxes paused briefly for breath then dived headlong into the boxes, shrieking, tearing, shaking, pulling, crushing, breaking.

As usual, I tried not to yell at them. As usual, I tried not to get stressy at them putting the tree decorations wherever they wanted (50 on one branch, 3 on the other side). As usual that lasted no more than 15 seconds. Midi Minx was banished to the living room on a Time Out within 3 minutes. Mini was physically restrained from chomping the plastic tree. Maxi made a beeline for the most delicate and glitter-shedding home-made decorations from last year and got yelled at as a cloud of golden glitter wafted up my nose and settled in my lungs. Again. (Well, it’s really not fun to cough out gold shiny stuff; it plays havoc with my teeth).

Some things never change, like my stash of booze-sloppy Christmas cakes, festering away in the garage.

Some things never change, like my stash of booze-sloppy Christmas cakes, festering away in the garage.

I don’t even dream of having a chocolate-box family as in the adverts. You know the kind: all dreamily smiling, passing ornaments to each other with a tinkling laugh and throbbing eyes, shiny clean house in the background, Christmas muzak playing, as the snow falls… Yuck. Barf. Probably all stoned out their minds. Give me my noisy, messy, riotous family anytime. The family who learned to pull Christmas crackers when one sister tried to snatch the cracker from another. The family who shake out the hand-made tatty snowflakes and bashed, crushed paper chains from the poly bag that they’ve been smudged into all year and drape any surviving ones over the tree. The family who’re still young enough to believe whole-heartedly in Santa, for perhaps the last year, now that Maxi’s 6? The family who’re still innocent enough to ask Santa for chocolate oranges, a fairy wand and a wooden recorder, again probably for the last year ever.

My kids drive me bonkers often (why can’t you come with adjustable volume controls?! And ears which are permanently switched to ‘on’? Then I’d we’d all be so much happier!) But this year I’m so painfully aware that they’re growing up quickly and won’t be little children for much longer. Christmas will always be fun (and noisy, smelly and chaotic) but it won’t be the same when one or more minxes no longer Believe.