Holly Returns

On Monday, J sighed and said, “Do you think that our elf is going to come back this year?”


Holly the Elf is, like, the bane of my existence in December. I tried to find one post for a bit of back history for you, but there were tons of references to Holly the Elf, mostly my struggle to remember to move her, or my scares when J would come downstairs after bedtime and see her hanging around in my laundry basket, waiting for me to come up with something to do with her. This just isn’t one of my high-skill areas, parenting-wise. J’s still in that territory where she doesn’t quite believe in everything anymore, but she still wants to believe. And so, when she’s asking for Holly, I’m going to do my best to give her Holly.

But it ain’t easy, yo.

First, where the hell did I put the damn thing? The trouble with Holly is that she can’t be stored with all of the other Christmas decorations. She’s supposed to be at the North Pole! And sometimes J helps me unpack the storage boxes. So when J asked about Holly, already mildly disappointed that she hadn’t shown up for December 1st, the traditional first day of Household Observation, my face smiled while anxiety flooded from my heart and pooled in my abdomen. “I don’t know if she’ll come back, hon. I guess we’ll see.” I continued to pack J’s backpack while taking mental inventory of my various hidey-holes around the house.

Once she was off to school, it was time to start ransacking the house. With my enthusiasm so low, the last thing I wanted to do was buy another one of these overpriced dollies. But I knew I would. First I checked official hiding places. Then I tried to reconstruct what might have happened last year.

Usually, I reasoned, I stuff Holly into the laundry area on December 26th. Then she lounges among the miscellaneous laundry debris (pennies, hair elastics, wadded-up receipts, etc.) for a week or so before I come up with something better. But, last year, did I ever come up with anything better? Maybe not.  In which case, I would have stuffed her into a plastic bag and flung her up somewhere that was too high for J to reach. And from there I checked out the messy shelves above my washer and dryer . . .



. . . and moved that crate filled with the iron that only comes out for crafting projects because I don’t actually iron clothes; as well as a gallon of distilled water that I bought for something–maybe the iron, once?–and kept in case I’d need it for something else, then forgot about for three or four years;  along with miscellaneous rags, which tend to gather because I am far better at putting holes in socks than I am at cleaning the house with spare rags. And once I’d moved all that aside,


there she was! Nestled between the cheap plastic deli platter I think I might use someday and the bleach that lasts months at our house because I seem to be incapable of doing a bleach wash without putting a spot somewhere in the breast vicinity of whatever top I’m wearing. Hooray for Holly!

Now, in the process of dismantling my piles of junk in the name of Elf Excavation, I managed both to re-discover and to puncture the gallon of distilled water. So my moment of triumph was marred by the epic spill all over myself and my immediate vicinity before I put the leaky gallon container into a large bowl.

Then, I had to come up with someplace to put Holly so that it would appear as if Holly were in the house this morning and no one had found her. I helped her build a small fort with the tree skirt that’s awaiting our tree


and tucked her into it with a board book, so she could read up on her Elfin Duties.


Crap. According to the literature, apparently she and I are going to have to make some Christmas balls to hang on the tree. Add it to my “to do” list, I guess.

J was excited to stumble upon her later that evening, even if she didn’t arrive bearing gifts.

Then yesterday, I set Holly the Elf next to our spider plant, because I wanted J to notice that we’re actually getting flowers or spider babies or something.

Holly on lamp

The plant success is amazing, because we’ve had this plant for years, and it’s always been somewhat sickly. It had brown leaves and it always looked droopy. Recently I trimmed it and put it somewhere else, and it’s suddenly revitalized. In fact, I was looking into exactly what was going on with this plant the other day, and I found an encyclopedic page full of questions and answers about the care of spider plants. You will never guess what the cure for brown-tipped leaves is! Switch from regular water to distilled for watering!  I am not even kidding. All of this actually happened. So I salvaged that last cup of distilled water and put it in a new container, which I then tossed up into that crate, where I may or may not forget it.

And then, this morning, guess where Holly appeared?

. . . . .

Sitting on the lamp, next to the spider plant. That’s right, folks. It’s only December 3rd, and I’ve already forgotten to move the damn elf. Do you know how it feels to wake up all snuggly in your bed ten minutes before you actually have to get out of the bed, and you’re excited that you’ve got a little extra snoozing time and you start pondering your day and then you realize that YOU’VE ALREADY FAILED TODAY’S PARENTING without even having gotten out of bed or interacted with anyone?!?!

I will tell you.

It feels bad.

Cute W has now set a daily alarm on his watch to help with the Holly effort, but meanwhile, of course, people who are much better and more enthusiastic parents than I am have taken pictures of their clever Elf High Jinks and posted them on Facebook and no matter how lovely these people are, if they were actually in my presence, I’d have to restrain myself from pinching them very, very hard. Because, this morning, they brought their children Joy and Wonder and I brought my child Low-Level Disappointment and Resignation.

Meanwhile, all of those parents who were feeling so self-satisfied about their Fabulous Elf Antics have been knocked off of the Most Awesome Parent podium because all the truly cool parents have moved on to Kindness Elves. I mean, come on. If the Kindness Elves weren’t so kind, they might tell those stupid elves who spent last night toilet-papering their host kids’ bathroom to go suck it. The Kindness Elves appear to be composed entirely of organic materials, and they do wonderful things like  successfully move every night, traveling in a festive group, bringing inspiration for thoughtfully planned little projects to spread love and good cheer to others, all assigned with long, adorable notes so that the entire family can bond with each other while laboring to make the world a better place with their own small efforts. Surely such elves will cultivate the best possible human beings in whatever household they visit. I mean, it’s a wonderful, wonderful idea.

But that won’t happen here. I can barely manage to move my trendy, self-absorbed, materialistic elf.

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