If you aren’t familiar with Elf on a Shelf you might think this picture is a little odd. The idea is that you use the elf doll and tell your children that the elf is watching good boys and girls for Santa. Now the elf moves at night to a different location to further convince your kids he is real. Sometimes this little elf will even play tricks at night while children are asleep. An example would be you find him on the kitchen table with your cereal ready, or maybe he picked out your clothes while you slept. You get the idea.
Now this sounds like great fun BUT most parents start this little game around Thanksgiving and it’s played up and until Christmas. This can be troublesome in many ways. Trying to come up with different ideas as to where to put the elf while the kids are asleep and what trick or new discovery the elf might create. That’s a lot of work! Or heaven forbid the parent is to tired to do the elf relocation one night, then you have to come up with why the elf did not move. The worst or maybe best idea is the elf is partially eaten by the dog, hence the picture.
I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.
These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.
At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.
If you have lost of loved one whether it be years ago or as recent as this past year then you know how difficult the holidays are. You might even have some well meaning person to remind you of how hard holidays are without a loved one , as if you didn’t understand.
I lost many loved ones on special or holidays, New Years Eve-brother, Christmastime- brother, stepfather- my wedding anniversary, 4th of July- mother, my birthday- brother. Although this is an unusual amount of loved ones to lose by the age of 40 , it is also an odd number of celebrations to loose loved ones on. I decided i needed to embrace these holidays which is how my business FloralMemorials came about. My husband was a contractor and often had wooden stakes and the idea came to me to paint and decorate them so I could have something to decorate the graves for any holiday or celebration. This need to celebrate has been an amazing experience for me and one that I am most grateful for.
Those deaths have been 20-30 years ago and I have found that those days in between holidays have brought me the most comfort, understanding, clarity, and peace. Every single day a thought drifts through my mind or I drive by a part of town that sparks my memory but always with a smile and no longer with a tear or lump in my throat. Those days in between are just as important if not more than the few holidays we share. Own those days they can’t be given back to you and they are amazing.
I took this cross to baby Paul’s grave today for Christmas. Below is my original post from 2016 about baby Paul.
Can’t see the forest through the trees.🌳
I tell myself that starting with the New Year I will learn to slow down and take a moment to see what is in the world around me. Living in the present is what it’s called, to take note and of what is around you and learn from it, value it, an awareness of time.
Now there are two things I have learned about living in the present. The first is if you are a parent raising children you are living in the moment ALL the time, the only problem is you are so busy that you barely have time to appreciate a shower much less “the moment”. The second it is so much easier to live in the now and appreciate the world around you when you are older and have finished raising your kids.I experienced one small example of this the other day.
Two of my brothers, my stepfather , and stepbrother are all buried in a small area of a local cemetery. I have been visiting and decorating their graves for various holidays for over 20 years. I know every section of that cemetery, every tree, every new grave. When I visited the cemetery with a friend to place some of my holiday memorial crosses on the graves my friend ask me if this baby’s grave was a relative. Baby grave? What? I looked at the stone that was inches away from my family and read the dates; birth June 16 1895, death July 6, 1895. It’s not that I hadn’t noticed the grave before. I noticed it was old, alone, and it had a male name inscribed. I had also noticed how close it was to my family graves. In 20 years I had never stopped once to actually read the marker. I was somewhat embarrassed to admit to my friend that I had never noticed it. My mother would call that not being able to see the forest through the trees. In other words, we are so busy with our own little world that we don’t acknowledge what is around us.
The next time I go I think I will bring along an extra cross for that baby I never knew or took a moment to see.