December is here and with it comes an annual visitor to my household. No, I don’t mean Santa (although he’ll be making a stop there, too). I mean Christina, my daughter, Nola’s, Elf on the Shelf.

We came to the Elf on the Shelf tradition a bit later than some. Nola got her elf for Christmas only two years ago, so last year was the first series of “visits.” And it was at that point that I realized I’d screwed myself with holiday duties.

You see, we already had three advent calendars going: an elaborate and awesome one on the computer (designed by the incredible Jacquie Lawson and gifted to us annually by the equally awesome Kristine Kathryn Rusch), one with magnets that simply mark the days, and a more traditional door-opening kind). And we also have a Northpole Communicator, with which Nola can speak daily directly to the North Pole and, sometimes, Santa (and which now requires more prep work to find the no-longer-made cartridges so the messages are different every year). And then, we have Christina.

I love the holidays, but that’s a lot of daily upkeep to keep the magic alive. In hindsight, I overdid it (duh). But there we are.

You see, the premise of the elf is that she (or he) flies off to the North Pole every night and reports back to Santa whether the child was naughty or nice that day, then returns in the wee hours to a different position than the previous day. Many folks, as I see on Facebook, create elaborate scenes for their child’s elf: fishing for Cheerios in the toilet, skiing across the room to the tree, having a dance party with Barbie…the list goes on. Nola’s elf is more introverted, like John and me. She does her job and settles in for a day of quiet observation.

Even with a low-maintenance elf, I had trouble last year remembering to move the damned thing. By the end of the day, I’ve been going nonstop since 6 a.m., so once Nola goes to bed, I’m not much good for anything.

This year, gratefully, John has taken over Christina duty. He moves her around in clever and creative (although simple) ways.

And I’ve discovered an unexpected benefit to that wonderful man’s helpful act: Now, I get to look for Christina, too, and share in my daughter’s joy when she finds her.

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that mean the most.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.


Image copyright starlight789/Depositphotos.