Who is this crazed monster wreaking havoc in my house? He’s about twelve inches tall, dressed head-to-toe in red, and goes by the name of Alfonzo. He made his grand entrance into our lives last December (uninvited, I might add) by showing up in a box on our doorstep, accompanied by a charming book and an overpriced DVD explaining his story. He supposedly descends from the North Pole and is here on strict orders from St. Nick to watch over my children and report back nightly on their daily levels of naughty and nice. I’ll admit, his presence does make for an easier bedtime.
This is only his second season with our family and already my children are taken by his charm and look forward to his escapades. They race down the stairs each morning crying out, “Alfonzo, Alfonzo, where are you Alfonzo?” They run circles around the house, searching for his latest hiding spot. When they finally find him, they stand together in awe, marveling at his latest bout of mischief. When he wrote a note to them on the bathroom mirror using my new tube of red lipstick, they howled with laughter. When they found him zip lining from the second-floor balcony, they couldn’t contain their giggles. When the fresh bag of marshmallows was found ripped open and he was caught holding the bag, they cheered at the puffy white sugar he spilled on the counter and stuffed the cylinder shaped treats in their mouths before breakfast. He is a menace and a miscreant and I’m always the one left to clean up his mess.
Okay, sure, he does make their little faces light up with excitement for 24 consecutive mornings in December. And, he does project a cheerful countenance with his unchanging expression of joy and permanently affixed grin. It’s true that he can regularly be counted on for a cheap threat (“Brush your teeth or Alfonzo will tell Santa. Eat your green beans or Alfonzo won’t be happy!”). And his arms always appear ready for a hug. Yes, it’s certainly hard to deny the love that my children have for their little elf. One only needs to look at yesterday’s crayon-drawn picture of our family to find that my daughter included a wee sixth member to our brood—a tiny red-suited man encircled by a giant red heart.
I guess there really is no harm in his presence, no deviance in his destruction. Perhaps his visit provides an opportunity for the big kids—those who are too tired for visions of sugarplums and too old for Red Rider BB guns—to take part in the wonder of Christmas again. Maybe the elf on my shelf isn’t just for the littlest of believers. Maybe he is a tiny plush message from Santa himself to replace the end of the year stress and anxiety, hallmarks of our modern day holiday, with a spoonful of magic and a sprinkle of mischief.
I just wish he’d clean up after himself. And if he could remember to move BEFORE I get all comfy and cozy in bed, that’d be great too.
About the Author
Stacey Carlin is a lifelong Buchanan resident and a wife, teacher, and mother of three little Bucks. She is the author of a popular online blog titled “Layin’ Down Roots.” You can read more of her essays on life, love, and hometown pride by following her blog on Facebook or by picking up a copy of the Berrien County Record or the South Bend Tribune.