Last December I was introduced to something totally foreign to my previous experiences with the holiday season. It came with the kid we took in, and turned out to be far more irritating. And now it's back, and I'm already pissed...
When it became obvious that my lovely (and dangerous) wife's mom was going to succumb to her cancer, we brought our (then) nine year-old niece to our house for a "couple of weeks." Since then, we've been named Sarah's legal guardians, in charge of all of the happiness and headaches that entails. And don't misunderstand me... there have been an infinite number of happy moments since those fateful first days last winter. But... when you're in your sixties and someone leaves you a 4th grader to raise, your life changes in a million ways.
Almost immediately upon her arrival here at Chateau Squatlo, Sarah began to ask the whereabouts of "Candycane." I was informed that Candycane was the name Sarah had given something called an Elf on a Shelf, and it was supposed to be living with us, too. She seemed distraught that it wasn't in our living room after her first night here. We retrieved the missing Elf figure from her Nannie's house the following day, and the rules were carefully explained to me by my (L&D) wife.
"The Elf has to be moved every night after Sarah goes to bed. And whatever you do, don't touch it if she's watching!"
Apparently, a human touching an Elf figure while the Elf's kid is watching ruins the magic, or some such shit. The one time I acted like I might be about to touch the damn thing, Sarah shrieked like a mad dog had broken into the house. Scared the shit outta me!
So every night we'd wait for the child to doze off, then we'd move "Candycane" to another spot in the living room, trying not to repeat ourselves with the new location. And every morning Sarah would dash into the living room wide-eyed in search of the Elf, and then come running back down the hall to announce the doll's new perch, as if this miraculous happening was something we were unaware of. I'm not a total Grinch, folks. I love Christmas. Some of my happiest moments in my childhood involved the Christmas hollerdaze, and I'm pretty sure my kids have some of their brightest memories from the Yuletide season, too. I even like most of the Christmas carols, as long as I'm not being forced to hear them prior to friggin' Halloween. But this Elf thing... shit!
The one night we forgot to move the little bastard resulted in a panic stricken child rushing back to our bedroom to announce that something was terribly wrong with Candycane. I tried to alibi it off as motion sickness and fatigue.
"Maybe he's tired?"
And that answer just wouldn't do. The Elf must move. It's a rule.
Earlier today I was stretched out on the couch with a Kindle reader in hand, re-reading Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions," a book I originally read by in the '70s. I accidentally ordered the Kindle download in an effort to sync my PC with the Kindle, and figured since it was on the device I might as well check it out again. And it's still funny as hell, if you've not read it lately.
Anyway, I was comfortable. The kid was at school, I was under a blanket reading, and my wife was preparing to leave for work. Peace and quiet was in the immediate forecast. I even had a plan to mix up a small batch of Bloody Marys to complete the morning vibe. But women seem to hate seeing a man lying on his ass under a blanket doing nothing. Or at least all of the women I've met seem to have a problem with it. Maybe it's me.
As she went through the living room on her way out of the house, the woman of my dreams looked back at me and said, "Do me a favor. Look for the Elf on a Shelf today. It's supposed to be up in the living room tomorrow morning, the first day of December."
I think I groaned aloud, because she smiled as she closed the door.
And that's how I came to spend most of the morning out in a storage shed going through boxes of Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, lights, ceramic trees, figurines, and other assorted holiday crap looking for the most stupid fucking holiday tradition EVER, instead of reading Vonnegut under fleece. And to make things worse, I couldn't find the damn thing. My wife has come home, searched, and she can't find it, either. She tells me they cost thirty or forty dollars. And we simply must have one. It's important, she says.
I suggested we replace Candycane, but with another figure.
"Instead of Elf on a Shelf, why can't we have Whore in a Drawer?"
She didn't find that funny, even a little bitty bit.