The elf is watching you

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 07:26 PM

Fa-la-la-la-la. I’ve been listening to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” at least daily on the radio since Thanksgiving. I love everything about the holidays and fully immerse myself in it, trying to savor every moment before dreary January arrives. I’ve whipped myself up into such a festive frenzy that it has put me on the fritz.
Thursday morning, I spilled a glass of milk all over the counter, dripping down the dishwasher onto the floor. I had been awake for about three minutes. Getting coffee into my system didn’t help. Getting ready, I got shower gel – full of suspicious red dye to make it the festive Christmas candy apple scent – directly in my eye. I still don’t know how that happened. I made it to work OK and then spilled a drink on my desk (not my precious coffee, at least).
I blame this on the candy cane cloud that’s swirling above me, reminding me of what needs to be done. All great things to have on a list, all about having fun and giving gifts and celebrating.
All. At. Once.
I like it all, I really do. But that hovering candy cane cloud of distraction makes me spill things. Thankfully, “Elf on the Shelf” is not hovering over me, too.
Let’s talk about that elf – the book and television show and doll that is essentially Big Brother. Think of another circumstance you’d be OK with someone watching your every move, surprising you each day in new locations in your home, smiling at you. You can’t confront him, and he’s reporting all your activities back to a big boss you rarely see. Sounds pretty Cold War era to me.
We have an “Elf on the Shelf” at my house, and my kid can play with him however he wants. The elf doesn’t watch him suspiciously, either. Wherever my son puts him down is where he stays, his secret police orders disabled. My son asked, “What if Santa sees my elf and thinks it’s his and takes him?” Not a problem, I said. Elves come and go as they please. Santa’s not taking anyone’s elf, and furthermore, elves can quit their jobs if they want.
I’ve given in to the Santa business. Going against the tide means spoiling it for other kids. But gifts from Santa Claus are few because most giving and getting needs to be between people in the spirit of sharing. There’s no other time of year when people try to please each other so much. That’s a good thing.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. Happy Hanukkah to those who are celebrating it this week. And an encompassing Happy Holidays to those who observe neither of those holidays but enjoy New Year’s or whatever else. I hope this month is a festive one for you, too.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563.