Like many parents, I introduced the Elf on the Shelf to my family years ago. Every year, he flew in on December first and brought treats to my boys. Sometimes he did silly things and sometimes he was too tired to bother and would just perch himself on a nearby object trying to look peppy. I envied him because, even in his stillness, he brought joy. Meanwhile, spinning like a rogue top from the Island of Misfit Toys, I was doing everything possible to make each moment merry. Yet, no one thought I was cute or clever or fun. Still, moving the elf each night made me feel purposeful about making the season joyful.
This year, the elf is laying face down in my dresser drawer between my camisoles and fuzzy socks.
Like the tape when I sit down to wrap presents, my Christmas spirit is lost. Besides the missing elf, I have maintained the same traditions, attended the same parties, and surrounded myself with the same fa-la-la-la-la that suddenly feels more flat than festive. It bothers me because I know the reason for the season. I have even been mindful about spending more time with God, doing something every day to reflect on the joy of our savior. I figured eventually the Christmas spirit would find me. I would even pull that abandoned elf out of my drawer and spin an elaborate story for my teenage boys, explaining how the elf had been injured in a sledding accident and could no longer fly to the North Pole every night. As such, he became a truck driver who sleeps in highway rest stations leaving treats for weary travelers. My kids would roll their eyes. I would roll out the Christmas cheer, and all would be right with the world.
Yet, each day felt like the one before. Busy, but no genuine excitement for all the bustling.
Then I realized that maybe things don’t need to feel different. After all, we are encouraged to keep Christmas in our hearts year-round. More than anything, what embodies that for me are the people in my life. They are my gifts. Despite all the minutia that fills my day, they fill me with gratitude, laughter, and hope. It’s the simple moments of mercy they offer through kind words, concern, and unconditional love that keeps the contentment of a newborn king in my heart. Their presence is a preeminent present I unwrap on ordinary days, moments that don’t typically have the pomp of the season that shines. Yet they light my way with a steady glow that glimmers with the love of a baby born with a singular purpose, to save.
The Christmas spirit isn’t going to be found under the tree or from my semi-truck driving elf. It is going to be where it has always been, in the light and love of my neighbor. May you realize the power of your own light, because when the glittery garland is put away the world will still need your shine.
The frenzy of the holiday season is in full gear and while I have been overwhelmed with to-do lists and to buy-lists and to-bring-me-closer-to-Jesus lists, it occurs to me that as scattered as I feel and as hectic as it all seems – how absolutely beautiful it is that we all stretch and strive so hard to celebrate the birth of Christ. And, I know all of the items on the to-do and to-buy lists are unnecessary and I know the meaning of the season is grossly commercialized.
Still, what a season of evangelization it is for all of us. To know and celebrate the joy of a newborn King and to want to share the joy with others is truly the most beautiful gift we have and the most beautiful gift we can share. So, do all of the things you think you need to do, and do all of the things you want to do, just through it all, try to remember HIS joy. It makes everything worthwhile. ~ love, Lara and her truck-driving elf
P.S. – Signed copies of Simple Mercies are still available for purchase for $15 each if you buy two or more and are local. Shipped copies are $20. Please email me if you are interested at [email protected]