My very own elf.

I have dream child. I do. I feel that when I admit this to people who don’t know me or her very well, it sounds slightly pretentious. However, after you get to know her, you start to realize this is indeed, just the plainly spoken truth. Sure she has her moments, they all do. But overall, I have been blessed with a wonderful child who is indeed dreamy.
I mention this because she turns into the most magical, helpful little elf this time of year. She loves to help with Christmas. First up is the tree.

She and her father go cut down a tree every year. They find the best one out there, cut it down and trek home with it. Once they get it inside, I put the lights on. She lets me dig out and hang the first ornament – always the Styrofoam ball and pipe cleaner beauty that my father made my parents first Christmas they were married. I always hang it on the inside, near the trunk, in a tucked away spot, just so I know it’s there. I’m pretty sure it’s the only one left out of the whole collection they made. I remember a good portion of our ornaments growing up were from that craft session and over the years, they either fell apart (My dad always commented on how surprised he was that spray paint made Styrofoam deteriorate.) or just seemed to disappear.

After that though, she gets to work. She’s not entirely comfortable hanging the vintage Shiny Brights, or any of the breakable ones for that matter. After all, she’s only 8. But she loves digging through the boxes of ornaments we’ve amassed over our lifetimes, especially the Hallmark ones we got as kids. She does a great job of decorating the tree. She has a really fantastic sense of style and proportion and design. She’s quite good at making sure the ornaments are spread out and not just all on one spot on the tree. Seriously, dream child.

Left to my own devices, I will take my time decorating the tree. I tend to get a little OCD about the placement of each and every ornament. I will hang and rearrange for days on end. She has very little patience for this and so we compromise by spending 2 days putting the tree up. And she does most of it.

I mentioned she was dreamy, yes?

Up next is the Christmas card. A few years ago, she came home from school to find cards, envelopes and mailing labels in neat piles on the dining room table. She sat down and took it upon herself to get those puppies ready to mail and has done so every Christmas since. This year though, she’s decided to seize creative control. After informing me that she was ‘not comfortable being the center of attention’, she announced that if our Christmas card was to be a picture of her, it needed to be of the entire family. I tried telling her no one wants to see me & daddy’s faces, they know what we look like, but she wouldn’t hear it. She refused to cooperate any time the camera came out, guessing that I was going to try for a sneaky photo. I really loathe having my picture taken, as does her father, so while I know she comes by it honestly, it doesn’t make it easier. I have a slew of family portraits dating since pretty much her birth, where she refuses to smile for the camera. There are the straight face pictures, the pouty pictures and then the out right scowl pictures that make me wonder what sort of teenager she’s going to turn into. A particular favorite has a 2 year old not only scowling, but curling her little fists up into balls, as if to say, get these people away from me. Of course, Pat & I are grinning quite happily into the camera in every single one. I finally caved and said fine, we’ll do it your way, but you have to smile.

Smile she did. Although when I suggested ‘outsourcing’ the card this year, both she & her father rebelled. Every year, I have designed and printed our cards in what most of our friends and family tell us is the best holiday card they get. There is a source of pride to it I suppose. But it’s also alot of work. We send an insane amount of cards and it takes an entire day of babysitting the printer to make it happen. I finally uploaded pictures to Snapfish the other day and made her a photo book. They sent coupons for a freebie, so I made another one as a gift for another family member. I got really comfortable with this, which is why I made the suggestion of perhaps having someone else print our card …..”You want our card to look like everyone elses? It won’t be handmade if you do that. It just won’t be the same. The website name will be all over the front of the card.” They had a number of arguments against this idea. In the end, I caved. I’ll do it by hand. And my little elf will help.

I love that she loves to help so much this time of year. She generally is helpful, but at Christmas, she really kicks it up a notch. I’m pretty sure she’s going to start hounding us to wrap presents soon – she always does. She encourages us to finish shopping early and then she somehow ends up wrapping every gift that’s not for her. She’s very helpful with the baking cookies part too. Every year, she takes just a little bit more on, of her own accord. Every year, I’m delighted to share these traditions. And the work. Let’s face it, Christmas is a lot of work. I’m quite grateful to my Christmas elf who works so hard to make sure we have a good one.

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