Years ago, when it became apparent that my grandmother could no longer live in her home, my sister and I made the arrangements to settle her in a new living situation and then turned our attention on the home she had lived in for nearly 50 years. What we found could fill a book, but this time of year I’m always grateful for Gramsie’s elf.
He pre-dates the whole “Elf on a Shelf” phenomenon by decades, although I don’t know exactly how old he is. His feet are weighted with lead, and his body feels as though he has a wire frame. Because of those weights, he doesn’t sit on the shelf very well, but he always comes out for Christmas in my house and finds a comfy place to watch all the proceedings.
This isn’t his usual spot, but there was too much light on the glass shelf where he has been sitting this year for me to capture his charm. I’m kind of grateful that we bypassed the Elf on the Shelf tradition, because December with three children was always so busy that I’m sure I would have failed the test.
This charming fellow reminds me of my grandmother, and when I catch sight of him throughout the month I think of all the different family celebrations I’ve been privileged to share. I didn’t have a large extended family growing up, and our celebrations were always rich in tradition but relatively quiet. I vividly remember my first Christmas with Mr. Maui Stamper. He comes from an enormous extended family and there was a lot of laughter, teasing, hugging, and pandemonium. It was a big change for me, but I learned to love it just as much as the traditions I had grown up with.
When we moved to Hawaii, our celebrations involved just our immediate family. Once there were three little stampers running around on Christmas Eve, we parents were desperate to get them to bed so that we could finish all the wrapping, assembling and staging. There were a number of years where it seemed we had barely put our heads on the pillow before we were awakened by excited little voices proclaiming that Santa had come. Our oldest daughter figured out how to brew a pot of coffee, and one memorable year the three children appeared pre-dawn with fresh java – who could resist that?
This year the newlyweds are spending Christmas with his family in Mauritius. We have our middle daughter and our son at home, and our traditions are changing again. They’ve decided we should exchange our gifts of Christmas Eve so that we won’t be in such a rush to get to Mass in the morning. I’ve got my fingers crossed that there will still be a fresh pot of coffee.
Merry Christmas, and if you celebrate something else, Merry That to you too.