December is upon us, and with it comes the magic of anticipation.  At our house that means a certain Christmas elf is hard at work in the post-bedtime hours, creating tiny parcels and shiny notes, to be discovered by early morning sleuths.  As part of an Advent stocking exchange foursome, I’ve turned our stocking line into a way for the kids to help prepare for Christmas. Each day they find decorations, ornaments, light strings, Christmas books, or other holiday activities to do with mom, and a note from the Elf explaining it all.  Part of the fun is just the tearing of tissue paper off the mysterious item, often recognizing the object inside as familiar from Christmases past.

On the eve of December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, the kids remembered to put shoes outside their bedroom door as their dad used to do when he was little, and found them full of goodies Saturday morning.   Every year we can count on my husband’s godmother to remind us as the day approaches–just in case we happen to forget!  The boys dumped their shoes and boots to find tangerines (mistakenly called tambourines by our 3-year-old), lollipops, bundles of chocolate chips, and two ornaments each–a straw cone from Poland and a funny gray-bearded Swedish elf.  But there is nothing like the delight of chocolate before breakfast, right?!

A conversation from that morning at the breakfast table, as the boys admired our vintage plug-in tree, and carved Santa statue that appeared over night…

from the 5 year old:

“You didn’t do this, right mom?  That elf scampered all around our house.”

From his 3 year old brother,

“That elf sneaked all around our house.  It looks cleaner. ”

Then a pause,

“There’s a Christmas tree behind your head.  And Santa.  Hahaha!”

he giggles at his own sense of humor.