As mums, we share in a sisterhood. Women who have been there, who know what you are going through – sometimes shared in a look; that knowing glance between mums in a supermarket in the midst of a show-stopping, toddler tantrum. This sisterhood is particularly important at Christmas time. On a local mum’s Facebook forum, one mum professed the rocky ground of engaging an Elf on The Shelf, referencing the one night (or many) when having a glass of wine takes precedence (as it should) over relocating an elf.
‘Mum!’ My eldest son comes barrelling into our bedroom, one mid-December morning. ‘Elf hasn’t moved!’
Now enslaved by this tradition of Elving, I am compelled to explain myself to a five-year-old; to explain Elf’s inactivity, his doll-like stillness. Unable to cite the many valid reasons for this shortfall, to avoid cataclysmic disaster, I must remain covert. Identify simply as ‘Mummy’ – not a superhuman wonder-woman bringing Christmas joy to all. And when I asked my son, ‘What does Mrs Claus do?’ His response –‘bake cookies.’
‘Why did you move Elf there, Mummy?’ our pre-schooler asks, pointing to the elf clinging to the top of a lampshade.
The next morning, ‘Why did you move Elf there, Mummy?’ our pre-schooler asks again, pointing to the elf peering out of the wine rack.
Day three. Finally, the penny drops as intended. ‘Mummy! This one’s a magic Elf. It moved itself there!’ he says, excitedly, gesturing to the elf partially sticking out of an empty box of mince-tarts.
Cheeky, cheeky Elf.
I am a candle burning at both ends. Not only must I oversee Elf relocation, nightly, I must also rise early every morning to engage in a non-threatening (despite the name) Elf Hunt. Bleary eyed, I slide into my slippers, careful not to wake the toddler-baby in the hope I may return to bed. Engaging in the hunt, I must mirror the children’s excitement (and disguise my own sense of relief) at discovering that Elf has, in fact, moved.
But, mostly, I think, the pressure to make Christmas magical is self-imposed. I am reminded of this at our Play Group Christmas Party, the thought for the day being that the First Christmas was not perfect. Joseph had to decide whether to stick with Mary after news of the Immaculate Conception – that can’t have been easy to get his head around. Jesus was born in a manger – not quite the level of comfort Mary had hoped for. Christmas is not about achieving perfection. Nor, is it about carefully orchestrating the relocation of elves.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.