Many commented very kindly last week about the lovely green decorations that the resident teenagers created for our porch, and after I had tried to assure one commentator that not all of our decorating is up to that standard, she basically challenged me to show her the goods. So, Union Homestead – this is for you:
This charming decoration has been a family tradition for about 14 years. Bruce sings Jingle Bells at a fast pace in a tinny sort of Dean Martin voice. He is motion activated and in the beginning the girls took great delight in ambushing anyone – parents, the cat, the dog, visitors, etc by placing Bruce in strategic locations around the house. That all stopped when I used the same tactic to ambush any nighttime/early morning visitors to the Christmas stockings. I am told those flashing eyes are “freaky” when in a pitch dark room. Frankly, I find the whole idea of a singing flashing Christmas tree with a name a little freaky, but that’s just me.
I just found out this year about the Elf on a Shelf fad going on these days, and I’m thankful at least that we created our own tradition without help from a DVD, a website, or a game, and that even though it involves a freaky flashing fir, it does not require me to buy any other “stuff” to make the tradition work. To be fair, some people have been very creative in how they make the whole Elf thing work. Our 16 yr old babysat for a household recently where a visiting youngster had accidentally left a toy behind. The family gave the toy to their elf upon going to bed, in the hopes that it would be communing with the elf residing in their little friend’s house, and lo and behold, the next day at school it transpired that yes indeed, the child had her toy back, thanks to the busy little elves. I mean, that’s pretty creative stuff. I would have just packed it in my daughter’s backpack to take to school the next day, but there you go – our creativity clearly peaked with the arrival of Bruce in our home more than a decade ago.
It might be unfair to sneer at the Elf thing. Advent calendars were once all the rage, from my childhood ones depicting a sunny sandy looking Bethlehem with windows opening onto a paper background with a little picture of a candy cane or a candle, to the Spiderman and Dora chocolate calendars currently popular.
Then there’s the Pickle tradition I only learned about last week.
For lots of people this time of year is being marked by Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas, or maybe some other cultural celebration I’ve not heard of. Though I’m Christian, and therefore for me, this is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ, for many, it’s simply a time to gather family together, to feast and have some fun. That’s awesome. But regardless of the why for celebration, it seems to me that we should be a little choosier about what we decide to make a tradition. I mean, a pickle??? And doesn’t anyone else find this elf concept a little close to spying? And while we’re on the topic, why DO I have those lights up on the outside of the house? What possible tie in to Christmas made us all buy into that tradition? I think I should maybe not do them next year, and save myself hours of ladder work, not to mention sanity…maybe I’ll leave a note for a Christmas elf to find asking him(are there female elves?) to hang pickles from my eaves next year, thereby starting a new tradition.