The holidays are still hard for all of us. By nature they are full of tradition and tradition is something you share that form bonds that root themselves into your very heart. Being both our favorite holiday meant it was a big deal. Despite deployments and trainings man I married was always home for Christmas. I remember the first one when we kept it a secret he was coming home and woke the boys with him there. Seeing my son cry and hold the man he knew as dad is a memory I’ll never shake. We used to all get matching PJs or have me make them since it’s hard to outfit a whole family on a budget. We’d all hike out together and cut down a tree then make hot cocoa and decorate. He and I would stay up late together on Christmas Eve and wrap all the presents and then realize we both went overboard and there was a look of “we always do this” shared across paper and tape. Like so many conversations we had without ever saying a word. Kissing under the mistletoe dozens of times a day and then leaving it up for months after just because. Decorating the house to rival the Griswolds, you could see it from several streets over. Our older boys will believe in Santa forever because they’ve seen him (daddy in a suit I got him) in the middle of the night sneaking into their room and leaving their yearly animal. In their mostly asleep awareness they caught a glimpse of the jolly ole fellow. He ended up with the costume and I wish I could make that memory for my younger boys too.
It’s hard to get back into the spirit, to go through the motions without being weighted down by the past. So this year I’ve decided to make some new traditions things that aren’t tainted, things that aren’t shared, things that canb’t be taken, things that are all our own and there’s no room for anyone else. One of those things is “Elf on a Shelf”. I love the idea of the little elf come to visit and keep an eye on little boys to report back to Santa. However, I thought the real “Elf on a Shelf” was a bit creepy and then I found Christopher Pop-in-kins. He’s so much cuter!
We read his story on Nov. 30 and then the boys found him on Dec, 1. The turkey loves him. He calls him Popinkins, midkid calls him Oliver, but it’s only been a few days and I just love it; watching as the boys find him in the morning, and thinking up ideas for him are part of the joy. I used this stationary from Santa to type up a letter to the boys and it just gives them a sense of magic, refilling places in their hearts that have been a little empty.
I’ll be editing this blog over the month to share the fun we’ve been having with our guest elf this year.
Day 1: He arrives and during dinner the turkey decides he needs rice.
Day 2: He is a little vandal. Turkey says “Popinkins ruined my pictures he’s naughty.”
Day 3: Snow angels in rice.
Day 4: Making like Tarzan on the Advent rings, with a little imp who likes to have his picture taken.
Day 5: He got caught in the blinds. Not sure if he was trying to escape or if he’s reminding me it’s time to dust.