Charley the Elf

Dear Kids,

One day in early December Marshall asked, “Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf? It’s a book!”

I had heard of the Elf on the Shelf. I had been introduced to the idea by Auntie Jeanne, and frankly I wasn’t sure that I wanted one. But when Marshall mentioned it, I asked if he wanted one. He said yes, so I told him I’d call up Santa and make arrangements.

Santa sure acted fast. The next morning we were greeted by this sight:


The elf was sitting atop a cabinet in the kitchen. His bright red clothes and merry smile stood out against the light colors of the cabinet and walls. You noticed him immediately.

As the book told us, the first thing to do was to give the elf a name. I started to rattle off a list of boy names for you to choose from. The first name I thought of was Charley. As soon as I said it, Livia cooed the name with such obvious adoration that I never got to the rest of the list. Marshall agreed, and so Charley the elf became.

Marshall was quiet that first morning, seemingly conscious that Big Brother was in the house. He kept whispering. After a while he got used to Charley and spoke at a normal volume, but still he struggled with the idea of the elf. He told his father, “He doesn’t look real. But he’s real.”

As the days passed, Marshall grew fonder and fonder of the elf. And you both came to enjoy the game of finding him each morning. Because that’s part of how the elf works. Every night he goes to the North Pole to make his report to Santa, then he flies back here and picks a new place to sit for the day.

Charley appeared in many locations over the course of the month, including Marshall’s backpack, the Christmas tree, and the light in the dining room. One morning he was holding a marker and a piece of paper with your names on it! He kept to the high places mostly, probably so that there was no chance of you touching him, because one of the rules it that you can’t touch the elf (it might make his magic go!).

We did have one difficult moment. Charley had chosen to perch on a cabinet knob. I opened the cabinet next to it and suddenly he was hanging upside down! Well, you father is a quick thinker, thank goodness. He took us all into the other room so that we could send wishes to Santa for help. When we got back to the kitchen, Charley had sorted himself out again. Whew!

I admit that your father and I sometimes used Charley to help control your behavior. If you were being naughty, we’d threaten to tell Charley. I’d feel bad about it except that it worked so well. And I made up for it by praising your good behavior at the end of every day. Believe me when I say that Santa always got a balanced report!

Charley chose to take his leave on Christmas Eve while we were at your vovĂ´s’ house. He left you each a book as a gift. Marshall got The Polar Express and Livia got How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My guess is that Charley wanted you to keep Christmas in your hearts throughout the year. That was nice of him.

You miss Charley. You’ve asked me about him every morning since Christmas. I feel so bad for you that I’m thinking of inviting him to Livia’s birthday party. There’s no harm in asking, anyway. It’s up to Santa to say yes or no. So I think we’ll send Charley an invitation and see what happens. I hope that he can come to the party!

Either way, you can rest assured that Charley will be back for Christmas. I am surprised to find that I’m looking forward to it. I guess Charley managed to work his way into my heart, too.



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