Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Elf on the Shelf, but not for myself.....

     Please don't be offended if you are an "Elf on the Shelf" family reading this.  This blog is meant as more of a primer on what I could have done better in celebrating this holiday with my family and not to chastise any family on their own traditions.   I fully believe in creating Christmas traditions in fact, and compliment any family that spends this much time and creativity to foster one.  Not too many years ago I could have seen me being an "Elf on the Shelf" family too, but I've had more time to reflect on the messages that I wanted to send more clearly as a father and as a Catholic.  Being as old as dirt and having your kids largely out of the house will do that for you.  

     I have to admit that prior to this year, the Elf on the Shelf thing went unnoticed by me.  This year,
The Elf on the Shelf balloon
 however, I started to see mention of him popping up at Thanksgiving.  He had his own balloon in the Macy's parade and I saw it that morning and again over the next few days as some adult shows poked some fun at it.  His appearance there wasn't enough for me to be motivated to go look up the story, at my age a lot of what others call "culturally significant" passes unnoticed by me, and I'm ok with that.  A few weeks later though, it became a lot harder to not notice.  Several Facebook friends of mine decided to "adopt" an elf and for the next 3 weeks it co-opted their status updates.  I'm not saying that it was pervasive on my page, but it almost made me miss Pinterest and cute cat pictures.  Most mornings I was treated to pictures of the unique position of the elf by multiple friends, the rest of my friends, thankfully, were still bit-stripping themselves in their statuses.   Point is, it gave me a lot of time to ponder this phenomenon.  It was around the same time that I heard that only
25% of my fellow Catholics were attending church on a weekly basis.  I found the number astounding, I would have thought it was closer to 40% and I know that in the 50's we hovered around 80% but I was saddened by this and I had to blame someone, and the elf was pretty handy (he was right there on the shelf), so....

     In a crisis of faith I always go to my roots and I only had to ponder the question shortly "What would my mother do?"  I realized that my mother had always done her version of elf on the shelf as I'll bet a lot of Catholic families did, but they used the journey of the Wise Men to do it.  For those
I swear my blog idea came first, it's only the calendar that disagrees
 that knew my mother, and before they fall down laughing, I am not suggesting that she arose before the household each morning to place the Wise Men, or 3 Kings, or Magi, on the toilet tank or in the fridge, however as Advent started and over the month of December they would systematically make their way around our living room, getting ever closer to the nativity and would finally arrive on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.  There was no Christmas Magic associated with their moving and if we touched them they didn't go back to Santa to tattle on us, but nevertheless, it was a tradition that my mother kept up.  I do remember doing this with our own nativity here at home over a long period of time, and I honestly can't say why or when I stopped doing it.  That is how traditions get lost though.  I also recall quizzing the kids on the names of the 3 Kings, can you name them?  The accepted names are Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, however, in the gospel of

Matthew, the only gospel to mention the visit of the Kings, they are neither named nor numbered.  It also doesn't mention if their camels were any happier on Wednesdays than the other days, but you can't get all the details all the time.  The gifts that they brought were though and that's how they surmised the number of Kings who visited Jesus.  Can you name the 3 gifts?  I'll bet more people can do this one than name the Kings, they are Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.  I'd give you more trivia, but it will be more fun if you go and read or re-read up on the Kings yourselves.

     So what am I going to do with all these thoughts?  As I had said, my current household is a little beyond either the elf or the journey of the Kings thing, but I can start to prepare for any grand-kids that I might have.  Heck, I can even Snapchat pictures of my traveling Wisemen to people (note to self, download Snapchat app).  I can talk with my son who's still at  home about the 3 Kings, but he does go to church each week, so he probably knows as much as me.  I'll do what I always do though, I'll take my best shot at this idea of re-centering my Christmas around Christ and I'll stick with it, if it 
works.  For your house, feel free to do the same.  For what it's worth though, I'm a poker player and 3 Kings always beats a single joker (or even an elf). 

1 comment:

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