Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Ralph showed up bright and early Saturday morning as he does every year in the week following Thanksgiving. He's a sneaky little guy, that elf, and we never know quite when he'll find his way home. He keeps an eye on all of us throughout the days leading up to Christmas and makes sure that we are all on our best behavior. He's kind of the best thing that happens all year and, quite frankly, we start talking about him pretty early around here.

The funny thing about Ralph and all of his elf friends is all the controversy around them. Who knew these little guys could cause such a ruckus? They are just Christmas elves, for goodness sake. I keep hearing about parents who are overly concerned about the message being sent by "lying to their kids" and by telling their kids the elf is watching them and reporting their behavior to Santa. People who find the whole idea manipulative and wrong.  I've even heard that the whole concept is outrageous because giving should not be associated with behavior. Which, in my mind, is ridiculous because giving should be directly related to behavior. Why would anyone want to reach out and give to people who are ill-behaved? And who doesn't want to go out of their way to help and reward those who are honorable, respectable, and well-mannered?  Are these people not being, perhaps, a bit over-dramatic? He's an elf. He's Santa's helper. How else can Santa "see you when you're sleeping and know when you're awake"? Or maybe these people are the same ones who don't allow their children to believe in Santa. And is there anything more sad, really?

My kids are little. They love Santa. They love everything about the Christmas. Yes, they understand it's Jesus' birthday (well, as much as they can at this age anyway, though Anderson has been singing "Happy Birthday" for a few days now to get ready for the "big party"). Yes, I teach them that is a time to give and be grateful and enjoy everything with which they have been blessed. And they also believe in Ralph, the magic Christmas elf who watches their every move and flies home to the North Pole every night to give the big guy a full report on the day's happenings. It's fun. And every morning Anderson eagerly looks for Ralph to see where he has decided to perch himself for the day. Though, sadly, there are sometimes days where Ralph doesn't move at all because maybe he just had such a great view the day before. And sometimes, just maybe, there are frantic early morning text messages confirming Ralph's arrival because it is a well-known fact that Ralph is one of Santa's lazier helpers and sometimes he just doesn't feel like making the long journey up north. Yes, that totally happens.

And so we welcome Ralph, master manipulator. Because for the 24 days leading up to Christmas there are few things that work better to straighten Anderson's attitude than the threat of walking up to Ralph and whispering in his ear. In just the same way I was afraid of Santa seeing me throw a temper tantrum, Anderson is afraid of receiving a bad report. If that makes us bad parents, so be it. I'm sure we have done worse. Magic is magic at any time of the year and maybe those parents who find such things to be detrimental and manipulative just need to remember what it is like to be little and to believe.

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