From the Publisher - December 2015
“Don’t worry; Be happy.”
My childhood memories of the holidays are fond ones. My mother always filled the house with Christmas decorations. We had a small silver tree in the den that had a color light wheel that changed the tree to green, blue and red as it spun. It was mesmerizing to my younger self, as I would lie on the couch and get totally lost in the wonderment of the holidays, while staring at that tree.
In the formal living room, we had a bigger tree—still artificial, albeit green—decorated perfectly with white lights, gold garland and red and gold satin balls. All the bedrooms had professional, florist-made arrangements placed in them to waft the spirit of the holidays throughout the house. The arrangement in my room, which I was allowed to pick out, had three big, pastel-colored, Styrofoam lollipops in it, which was perfect for evoking visions of sugarplums and Candy Land. My favorite arrangement, however, was not in my room; it was in the den. What made it my favorite was the elf who sat in it. He was always smiling and looking at me cock-eyed, and somehow I just knew he had a connection with Santa. My mom still puts that arrangement out after all these years. Those now antique elves have made a resurgence through the storybook toy set called Elf on the Shelf.
The premise behind Elf on the Shelf is these “vintage” elves actually do have a connection to Santa, and they sit on the shelf to make sure all the boys and girls behave. Rumor has it, these guys report to Santa on a daily basis. I still love these elves, especially my one, real, antique elf that my mother so graciously shared with me. However, my elf is different. He doesn’t sit on the shelf with his arms tightly wrapped around his folded legs, casting a judging eye down on me. He actually holds his arms outstretched, both welcoming and protective at the same time, depending on how you want to view it. As usual, it is simply about what you choose to focus on.
When I look at my elf sitting on the shelf with his arms outstretched, I respect his strength and willingness to hold back and block what is behind him so my holidays can be filled with peace and joy. Then I realize there’s a whole host of possibilities of what lies behind him: betrayal; sadness; stress; worry; anger; loneliness; longing, hate and fear, to name a few. It’s a tall order for the elf, but he is willing to hold steadfast and take the hit in order for the holidays to be happy, as they should be. He has the magic to hold these dreadful emotions at bay, if only we all allow him. In order to do so, we must take all of these stormy elements and “put them on the shelf.” Then put the elf guard in front of them so he can do his job.
Now, on the flip side, pull your perspective back into focus. Quit looking at the baggage behind him. He’s got it. Look at what is in front of the elf with his outstretched arms, which happens to be the universal sign for hugging, welcoming, and opening to the possibilities of life. Have you ever noticed that it is difficult to outstretch your arms in a “come give me a big hug” range and not smile. The effect is not same when you hold your arms straight up, or close to your body. Outstretched arms mean bring on the magic; I’m ready, I’m willing and I’m going to embrace it.
Not one of my childhood holiday memories includes worry, hatred, betrayal, loneliness or anything like that. It is because I saw Christmas from a child’s eyes with a child’s heart. I realize we are no longer children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t experience the magic of the holidays.
If you’re worried about all those ugly emotions the elf is guarding us from, don’t be. Sure, he will return to the attic and live as quiet as a mouse for 11 full months. His arms won’t be barricading all those things from you; but you have the choice to pick them back up from the shelf, or not. Could it be that if they sit there for 30 days, they possibly could stay?
From my heart to yours, I wish you the wondrous joy of the holidays. May your best gift this year be the strength to entrust your burdens to the elf and not pick them up again. Don’t worry, you can dust around them and, eventually, they will fade and no longer have a purpose. Then you can throw them away for good. Now that, my friends, is the real magic of the season. Blessings...