Last year, on December 26, the kids and I moved into this house. It was a new chapter for us–a fresh start in many ways. And it’s been a good chapter, but hard. Getting to know our neighbors, navigating the headaches associated with caring for a different house, and making new routines and traditions is accompanied with a certain level of stress and pressure.
And for many, many months, we’ve talked about getting a kitten for our new home.
Now, I take pet ownership seriously. You need to commit to an animal. You need to make sure it isn’t lonely, provide appropriate medical care, and prioritize its needs. You also need to be able to afford it.
Although my business is growing, I’ve been leery about spending money on a pet. I mean, what if my client list drops off? What if the kitten ends up having some high-maintenance medical condition? My legal bills certainly aren’t diminishing, nor are my student loans.
But a few weeks ago, I was like, “We need to do this. We need to get a kitten. We need an injection of happiness into this home.” These days, life with Drew is sickeningly toxic. Single parenting is hard, but single-parenting served with a side of active sabotage is harder. And my kids, especially Sydney, are faltering due to the strain.
So I encouraged the kids to launch a campaign to have Santa bring us a kitten. Our biggest advocate is Nick the Elf.
I know some of you think Elf on a Shelf is “creepy.” Or exhausting. Or sends the wrong message about the purpose of the holiday season.
Whatever. Then stop reading this.
I think it’s brilliant. It’s an easy way to instill the magic of Christmas while still getting to show a sense of humor and express the culture of your particular family. I think the people who post pictures of their elf doing a strip tease or writing the word “murder” on the bathroom mirror are hysterical (albeit for adult-viewing only). I think the naughty ones who eat all the cookies or shave dad’s beard while he’s sleeping are adorable. It’s a way to bring some of the surprise and delight of Christmas morning to the entire month of December.
Anyway, for the kids and me, 2013 is our year to be on a mission for a kitten. Regardless of mommy’s bank account or her need for court appearances.
And Nick the Elf is rising to the challenge. Nearly every day he leaves us a note that fills us with hope that our campaign is working.
Nick the Elf was found on the bathroom counter, reading the Elf on a Shelf book. He left a note saying:
Read this book together,
Because from this very day,
you’d better listen to your mother,
and do everything she say.
Nick the Elf
(Apparently, Nick the Elf is not that bright and struggles to rhyme. Or maybe he just didn’t think to write a note until 12 minutes before the kids woke up. Whatever. Don’t judge him.) Anyway, I used this opportunity to talk about responsibility and kitten care and being careful with delicate animals. They listened attentively.
Note #2: Found perched on a picture frame, with a note nearby:
I told Santa your story about wanting a kitten,
He gave you a task, involving a mitten,
Go to the store and buy it a collar,
Go ahead, wake mom up! Give her a holler!
Place it in a mitten outside your front door,
With this collar, Santa will gladly explore,
all the kittens in the North Pole and in the pet store
If he can find the kitten that is perfect for you,
you’ll find it on Christmas with his/her collar on too.
I’ll stay on this picture frame until you go shopping,
Because I’m so sleepy from my nighttime hopping.
Nick the Elf
Um, guess who was woken up at 7:15am and asked to bring them to Target to buy a collar?
Me, Nick. ME.
By 8:30am, the collar was tucked safely in the mitten and sitting on the front step.
Note 3#: (To put this in context, you need to know that the kids have been saving for a kitten. There is a cup on a shelf in the kitchen and they put all their lemonade-stand earnings and pay from babysitting the neighbor’s cats in there.) Nick the Elf was found on the top shelf, and this note had replaced the cup full of money.
I noticed the cup upon your white shelf,
And took it upon myself as your Elf,
to use your hard-earned cash for a treat,
or maybe some litter or something to eat.
Your kitten will love all that I find,
And be happy to live with a family so kind.
Nick the Elf
Oh, the excitement! The money from the cup is GONE and it’s going to be used to buy things for a kitten! And we already sent a collar to Santa via Nick! Surely we’re getting a kitten now!
Well, things were going along swimmingly until Nick the Elf didn’t change spots one night. Did he forget? Did we accidentally touch him and he lost his magic? Did he think the kids were too naughty and stopped searching for the right kitten? We were all mystified, but he left the a note the next night which explained. It didn’t even include the sentence, “Mom is lazy and forgetful”, thank goodness.
I didn’t move last night
because I got back too late.
The sky started to get light,
so I rushed back from my date.
We’ve seen kittens who are orange or black and gray.
but we’re keeping it a secret until Christmas Day.
Nick the Elf
Oh, thank goodness! And he’s been visiting some kittens! Hope was returned to our household. After all, names have already been brainstormed and listed on our white board.
Our most recent note was accompanied with a kitten toy and says:
Kittens are cuddly and soft as can be,
They need time to play and feel all free.
They love toys and bells and things that bounce,
But don’t look away because they’re sure to pounce!
Nick the Elf
So, basically Nick the Elf is a rock star in our house. I suspect that he spends an inordinate amount of time crafting his poems and imagining the reactions and excitement of the kids. And as a bonus, it’s super easy to get the kids out of bed for school.
Thank goodness we have Nick the Elf.
A little, creepy, person-shaped ball of hope.