Parenting and family, served with a shot of vodka
This is not a your usual rant about how tedious it is to do the Elf on the Shelf every holiday season. (Although I do believe that the Elf is a giant pain.)
This is a story about unconditional love, and the preposterous things parents do to make the holidays merry and bright for their children. The tale just so happens to revolve around our Elf, Bonky Bonk (named by my son many moons ago).
Last Christmas, just like every other year, my husband and I put Bonky Bonk away in safe place, where the kids would never accidentally come across him during the off-season. It was such a safe place, in fact, that we couldn’t find him this year.
We spent days searching bureaus, closets, underwear drawers, tippy-top shelves of everything in the house. No Elf.
Meanwhile, days ticked by. My kids came home from school every day, reporting all the friends whose elves had touched down. Each morning, the first words out of their mouths: “Is Bonky Bonk here?”
At the very least, I was able to practice my improv and buy myself more time. “Oh kids, maybe Bonky Bonk got a promotion at the North Pole! He must be super busy helping Santa. Maybe he’ll come on Dec. 1.”
Finally, Dec. 1 rolled around and it had already been a long-ass week. My husband was traveling for work. Several other things had gone wrong. And my kids were expecting that FOR SURE Bonky Bonk was gonna be here because … December. When he wasn’t there that morning they were not only shocked, they CRIED, y’all.
The writing was on the wall. We needed a replacement Elf, like, yesterday.
Since the hubs was gone, I couldn’t just run to Target without kids, so I issued a call for help.
I sent a text to my awesome neighborhood moms, explaining my dilemma. “If anyone happens to be going to Target today,” I wrote, “perhaps you could grab me a replacement elf (brown skin, brown eyes) and I can pay you back. I am so sick of this GD elf!”
They all commiserated about the Elf being a parental nightmare in general, but nobody was going to Target. However, one friend, had our exact brown-skin elf she could loan me for a few days, since her kiddos were too young to notice the timing of his arrival.
Alison walked him down to me that very morning, her newborn daughter sleeping peacefully on her chest in a Moby. (ALISON IS MY NEW FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD, BY THE WAY.) Alison stealthily slipped the elf out of her coat pocket. I shoved it under my tunic, like a freakin’ mythical creature drug deal. Next, I hid him on top of the medicine cabinet, like he’d been chillin’ there all morning.
The kids later found him, and the joy eruption of joy could likely be heard all the way to the North Pole. Mission accomplished.
Except, it wasn’t. I still needed to find a new elf in order to return Alison’s in a timely fashion.
I opened my Amazon app, only to discover the brown-skin boy elf was SOLD OUT (unless I wanted to pay $60, which I did not). It wasn’t going to be available again until Dec. 10.
So I had to find one in real life. My husband came home Dec. 2 for one day before he had to travel again. We had a full docket of events for the day, so grabbing an elf was gonna be dicey. A friend reminded me that a gift shop half a mile from our house usually carried the elves. So I ran over there real quick.
There was brown skin boy elf left. Yaaaaassssss!
I took it to cash register to pay, and opened the box to peek at the guy who’d been making my life hell since the day after Thanksgiving. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a *stolen* elf and then my bucket of tears.
I told the cashier a two-sentence version of my story, and she felt awful that the last elf had been stolen. Then she told me she bought a boy elf for her grandkids, but they weren’t interested, so she had it out on her sun porch to be picked up for donation. She thought he had tan skin.
She gave me her address, and told me I could go by and grab it.
Was I desperate enough to go to complete stranger’s house in the next town over, rifle through her donations to find an elf immediately?
Yes. Yes, I was. Time was of the essence, and I was already fried after several days worth of various stressful events.
As I drove over there, I was overwhelmed by her kindness and trust, and I got a little teary-eyed. Some asshole steals an elf from a store, then some beautiful, sweet woman with a heart of gold makes a frazzled mom’s day so much easier. It all evens out.
I pulled into her driveway, found her enclosed porch and found the elf. Except… it was a stuffy, not THE Elf. My daughter would love to play with this little guy, but the kids are old enough to know that this was not Bonky Bonk.
Shiiiiiit. I rushed home to go to my son’s basketball game, and then my daughter and I blazed out of there to go to a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer musical. It was dinnertime when we got home, but this was my last chance to replace the elf before my husband left again.
So I crammed down some food and ran to Target. But not the Target closest to my house, because … wait for it … they didn’t have the son of a bitch either. But then, at the second closest Target, I finally found him.
And I have to admit, I have never been so happy to lay eyes on a creepy-eyed, overpriced piece of felt in my life.
It’s been a week now, and I’m still OK with the Bonky Bonk. Sure, I’m still forgetting to move him, instead waking up at 3am and mumbling about that goddamn elf as I stumble downstairs. But I’m relieved that he’s here to make my kids happy, and Alison’s elf could go home to make her toddler happy.
I’ve seen the alternative (worried, crying, disappointed kids) and it’s not pretty. And besides, my son is nine. My kids aren’t going to believe in this kind of magic forever.
And to our original Bonky Bonk, I’m sorry you’re lost. I hope you wound up somewhere good, like the liquor cabinet.